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Stepfamilies - for children

step; family; families; sister; brother; parent; siblings; stepfamilies; stepparent; stepfather; stepmother; stepbrother; stepsister;


What is a stepfamily?

stepfamiliesSadly sometimes a family is split up. Maybe the mum and dad decide to live apart. Maybe the mum or the dad dies.

After a time, the mum or dad may start a new relationship. That may lead to the child having not just a 'new' mum or dad, but perhaps a whole new family, because the new parent in the kid's life may have kids of his or her own too.

This is having a stepfamily. The kids are not natural brothers and sisters, they are stepsiblings (sibling is a word we can use which means a brother or sister).

Good things about stepfamilies

There are lots of good things about living in a stepfamily:

  • stepfamiliesYou are part of a family again.
  • You may feel safer.
  • It's good to see mum or dad feeling happy with a new partner.
  • There's another adult to talk to or do things with.
  • There may be more money in the home, so life could be easier.
  • There may be new stepsiblings to know and play with.
  • You may have lots more relatives to care about you (and maybe even buy you presents!!)
  • You may even have a new brother or sister to love.

Not so good things about stepfamilies

Getting used to being part of a family again may sometimes be difficult.

  • stepfamiliesYou may still be feeling sad that you have lost a parent through separation or death.
  • Sometimes kids dream that their parents may get together again, and it can be hard to accept that this is not going to happen.
  • Some kids feel sad or even angry that they have to share their parent with the new partner and their kids.
  • You may have to share a room, move house or change schools, and this could be stressful.
  • You may have to learn new rules for the new family.
  • If your parents split up divorce you may not see the other parent very often, or there could be difficulties between your parents that make you feel uncomfortable. Check out When parents split up'.
  • You may not see one lot of your grandparents or cousins very often or not at all.

Inside a stepfamily

Some adults are really great with kids, some adults take no notice of kids, and some adults are sort of between the two. Here are a few ideas to think about:

  • Being a stepparent is never easy. Their new stepkids may feel that they are too strict, too easy, wanting to change everything, or don't care about them. The stepkids may believe that they only have to listen to their own parent.
  • Getting used to being part of a stepfamily is going to take time, and everyone needs to try to make things work.
  • Having stepsiblings is also not easy. You all need to learn to accept changes, get to know each other and learn to respect each other.
  • In a new stepfamily, everyone has to get used to different ways of doing things and living with new people.
  • Everyone needs to work together to make the family home a safe and happy place for everyone.

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim

Any family has problems from time to time. To work out problems everyone needs to listen to each other, be prepared to put up with some things, be prepared to give up some things, and to care for each other. That's what a family is about.

If other things are not going well in your family our topic on Family conflict - when families fight may be helpful.

Look at the Related topics on this page for more information.

Other ideas which could help

Starting out in a new family can be a bit worrying. Having to cope with changes can be difficult. Talking about the things that are worrying you can help.

  • Talk to your parent and your new parent.
  • Talk to your new siblings.
  • Talk to your trusted adults.

Maybe you could start a 'family conference' time to sit down with everyone and talk about things that each person would like to discuss.

For some topics which may help you in your situation, see the 'Related topics' list under the 'Feedback' link near the top right-hand side of this page.

If you need more help you could call the Kid's Helpline 1800 55 1800 (free call).

Or check out this site Reachout 

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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