(Dallas) The harmonious, quaintly comical world of The Brady Bunch may have made for a decent sitcom, but it didn't win any points for a realistic portrayal of a blended family.
Successful Step-Parenting More Art than ScienceCommunication, Patience Keys to Successful Blended Families,
According to State Bar of Texas Family Law Section
"Real step-parents have to navigate much trickier issues than Mike and Carol Brady did," says Mary Jo McCurley, the chair of the State Bar of Texas' Family Law Section and name partner in the Dallas family law boutique of McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, L.L.P "Becoming a blended family is difficult for kids and parents alike. And the only recipe for success is communication and patience."
Depending on the age of the children, they may still harbor fantasies about their parents reconciling, McCurley says. So it's crucial that step-parents tread lightly and not try to be mother or father substitutes. At the same time, she says, it's important for the biological parent to make it clear that the step-parent is to be treated with respect.
"You can't make a child fall in love with her new step-father," says McCurley, a step-mother herself for 20 years. "But you can do everything within your power to ensure that your child is respectful to him."
The Family Law Section is offering these tips for successful step-families:
Although step-families don't fit neatly into a Normal Rockwell portrait, they are becoming increasingly common as roughly half of all marriages continue to end in dissolution, McCurley says.
"Positive, nurturing step-parent relationships can provide children with a welcome dose of stability after the trauma of divorce," she says. "We may not all be The Brady Bunch. But we don't have to be Cinderella either."