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Stepmothers struggle to build relationships with stepchildren, survey finds

This news post is over 7 years old

Charity poll highlights pressures felt by stepfamilies with dependent children

Stepmothers find it harder to forge good relationships with stepchildren than their male equivalents, according to a new survey.

The poll of 5000 people for charities Relationships Scotland and Relate found 65% of stepfathers reported good relationships with their stepchildren compared to just 57% of stepmothers.

Overall, just 61% of step-parents reported good relationships with their children, in contrast to the 91% who reported good relationships with their biological children.

The findings come as the charities anticipate a rise in the number of people contacting them for relationship support amid the additional pressures of the Christmas period.

Stepmums can find it particularly difficult to establish a good relationship with their stepchildren and they are more likely to face rejection than stepdads

Stuart Valentine, chief executive of Relationships Scotland, said: “These findings reveal some of the challenges faced by relationship breakdown and blending families.

“It is a cause for concern when step-parents are struggling to create meaningful relationships with their stepchildren.”

Mr Valentine said 11% of families in the UK are made up of stepfamilies with dependent children

“Across the UK that’s over half a million families,” he added.

“In Scotland we need to offer more support and advice to step-parents and their families.”

Rosanne Cubitt, the charity’s head of mediation, said: “Stepmums can find it particularly difficult to establish a good relationship with their stepchildren and they are more likely to face rejection than stepdads.

“Stepchildren can feel overwhelmed and confused by an expectation that they will get on with new family members. A key piece of advice for step-parents is to build your relationships around activities and interests, and leave the 'parenting' to mum or dad.

“And be patient. Children adjust to changes at their own pace – give them plenty of time and space. Christmas can be a challenging time when issues come to the surface. It is also an opportunity to create new family traditions.”

Relationships Scotland is now urging anyone who requires support or advice on family issues to contact them via their website or by phoning 0345 119 2020.



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Craig Crosthwaite
over 7 years ago
Relationships are always fraught with difficulties but as a non-expert I can imagine why step parents are facing issues but was surprised to see it was step-mothers who had the most difficulties in being accepted. The article does not say why so I would imagine that replacing the primary Carer in the family unit is difficult. Biology rules, so non-biological family members who were strangers until the union of families must be difficult for some. I wish this support agencies work well as sustaining good relationship - in both directions - is critical for the child's development, family harmony and civic peace.
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