Step families are the fastest growing family in America. While that may be the case, there is a lot of confusion about how they function and what they look like. This confusion, unfortunately, leads to anger and heartbreak as these new families quickly realize just how hard it is to be a step family.

Today we will continue with another list of 5 ways to mess up your step family. Learning these as what NOT to do will help you identify the right steps to take, saving you time and arguments. And, with a little luck, create the step family of your dreams.

Forcing the kids to call their new step parent ___ - Telling them that they have to use “mom”, “dad”, “step parent”, or their name takes freedom away from the kids.

*Let the kids decide what they will call their step parent. Don’t take that choice away from them. This whole step family thing is out of their control anyway, give them something to have a say in. Forcing this issue will cause the child’s relationship with their new step parent to be hindered rather than help it. Remember, what they start off calling the step parent may change over time when they get to know them better.

Trying to always be a family – Trying to do ALL activities as a family when people feel like strangers will backfire.

*Don’t rush relationships. Allow them to grow at their own pace. Your children are used to doing things with just you. Don’t stop doing that just because you’re married now. ALL families split and do different things at different times based on the family members’ preferences. Don’t change that now just because you want everyone to like each other.

Not allowing everyone enough time to get to know each other before the wedding – A step family is the combination of a lot of strangers being forced to suddenly live together. Just because this new married couple loves each other and wants to live together doesn’t mean any of the other family members are thrilled about the idea.

*Give everyone a chance to get to know each other and start to build some type of relationship together before cramming everyone under one roof.

Disciplining too soon – Just because a step parent is now in a child’s life does not give them the right to start bossing them around. For most kids they just see this person as “the one who married my parent.” There’s not an automatic authority that is gained once that ring is placed on your finger.

*Instead of the new “parent”, I encourage new step parents to see themselves as a new positive adult role model in the kid’s lives. Let the parent do the parenting. You need to focus on just building a relationship with the kids.

Not leaving enough time for the couple – Focusing all your time and attention on making a great step family makes for a lousy marriage. You are newlyweds after all.

*You need time to strengthen your relationship and commitment to one another. This can’t be done when all of your time is spent running kids here there and everywhere. Making time for the couple has to be a priority. Remember, if your marriage fails it doesn’t matter how hard you worked on the step family because it will no longer exist.

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 interested in learning 5 other traps step families frequently fall into and in-depth ways of avoiding all 10? If so, check out our book, "We're NOT the Brady Bunch! The Top 10 Ways to Ruin Your Step Family and How to Avoid Them." I invite you to get all the details on this book at

Author's Bio: 

Alyssa is a remarriage expert. She specializes in working with divorced families who are planning to remarry both online at her site , and in person.

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!