Step families are hard. Anyone who says different doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately the Brady Bunch just isn’t a reality. Those kids didn’t have two homes they were going back and forth to. They didn’t have parents who were trying to co-parent with an ex-spouse. And amazingly enough, you never heard any sadness about the parent who had died. Sound too good to be true?? Of course it is!! That is Hollywood. You are or soon will be experiencing real life.

Let’s take a look at some of the best steps you can take to make a big mess of your step family. Knowing these common mistakes can help you to prevent them and hopefully build a stronger and healthier step family.

Treating all the kids the same – As parents you and your partner may have very different parenting styles. While this may make things more difficult when you combine your families, making DRASTIC changes once married will cause great resentment from the kids toward the new spouse. The kids aren’t stupid. They know that this new step parent is influencing the changes. The better option is to SLOWLY start making those changes BEFORE the wedding. That way after the “I do’s”, the parenting styles are similar and easier to manage as everyone comes together into one home.

Marrying too soon after a divorce – Research shows us that remarriages have the highest success rate when the individuals in the couple have waited at least 2 years after their divorce to remarry. There’s a lot of turmoil not only for yourself but for your children as well when a divorce happens. Give everyone time to adjust before you throw more changes into the loop with trying to combine families.

Assuming everyone’s traditions will be the same – This is usually one of those “big shockers” for step families. Most of us assume that everyone spends their holidays the same ways we do. WRONG!! It’s essential that step families discuss how different traditions, from the big holidays to just how the weekends, should be spent. All of us have different ideas about these. When they aren’t discussed and people feel like they are forced to follow someone else’s mold, you can count on an argument and eventually resentment.

Pushing and forcing the relationship between a step parent and children – Let the kids set the pace for how deep and close they want the relationship with their step parent to be. They really are in control of the relationship. If pushed, they will pull back. Understand their need to feel safe before allowing this new person in. Respect this need and just be present.

Assuming the family will function just like a nuclear family – These kids already have 2 parents. They are not looking for a third. The members of this family have not all known each other since birth so the relationships are NOT even. Embrace the differences and understand them so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment when your fantasy of a “Leave it To Beaver” family doesn’t happen.

If you'd like to find out more about how to successfully create a step family, remarriage or just life after divorce, please visit We offer a free 5 day e-course focusing specifically on the differences between your first marriage and a second. Knowing this information ahead of time, helps you to prepare and succeed. You can access this free e-course by visiting

Are you recently remarried and trying to figure out how best to combine families? Don't waste any time. Learn more about our latest book, "We're NOT the Brady Bunch!" Please visit,

Author's Bio: 

Alyssa is a remarriage expert. She specializes in working with divorced families who are planning to remarry.

She provides high quality resources and support to these newly emerging step families. In addition to her website, Alyssa provides remarriage and step family coaching to clients in person or on the phone.

She, along with a collegue, developed a divorce recovery class for children (FACT - Families Accepting Change Together) . Her desire is to work not only with the children, but also their parents to help everyone adequately prepare for a remarriage with the goal being to avoid a redivorce and achieve remarriage success!