Step-parents have typically gotten a poor rap when it comes to pop-culture, movies and T.V. Like Cinderella’s evil stepmother, step parents are often portrayed as neglectful or abusive toward their stepchildren, preferring their own children over those of their spouse. Evolutionary psychologists dubbed this phenomenon the “Cinderella effect,” a theory that stepparents naturally view stepchildren as competitors of their own children and abuse and neglect them as a result. But luckily for stepparents everywhere, a recently published study by Canadian scholars challenges the theory of the “Cinderella effect,” finding that it is not an inevitable reflex of step parents.
Today, step parents are an integral part of many blended families, often playing the role of “second mom” or “third parent” more than the role of “evil stepmother.” As an important adult in a child’s life, stepparents can define the role that they will play in the family. Whether your new step children are teenagers or toddlers, how you approach your role in the family may define family dynamics for years to come. For example, if stepparents are outspoken and overly-involved in custody arrangements, it can lead to unnecessary tension between parents. It’s important for stepparents to remember that they need to take a backseat when it comes to disagreements between parents and/or former spouses. Still, in other situations, stepparents may be able to provide a much needed buffer between two parents who just can’t get along. If your spouse can’t stand being in the presence of their former spouse, maybe you can ease the tension by facilitating custody exchanges.
Approximately 65% of remarriages involve children from a prior marriage and form blended families. This means that the families torn apart by divorce are often times made to adjust to a new family dynamic when a parent re-marries. Adjustment of any sort can be difficult for children, especially those who have only recently coped with a divorce. This can create the perfect environment for children to act out, or become anxious or hostile. While step-parenting might not be the easiest job, when a blended family finds the right groove it can be extremely rewarding.
If you or your new spouse is struggling with sharing custody of your step-children, contact our office today to learn more about the child custody process in Pennsylvania. Our experienced PA child custody lawyers can help you develop a plan of action and define your role in your step-children’s lives.