When you hear the word "stepfamily," what do you think of first?
- The Brady Bunch, where two sets of siblings were able to come together and not just get along, but actually share a bathroom.
- Cinderella and her "wicked" stepmother and stepsisters, who totally forgot she was a family member, not a servant.
- Your own family, made up of you, your parents, your parents' new spouses and their kids, not to mention grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even pets.
If you said the last one, you're not alone! Some experts guess that almost half of today's tweens live in a stepfamily! Many of you wrote to IML to tell us about your experiences:
Aline, 11, said, "My mom died when I was eight. Four years later my dad married someone new. The problem is that I don't like it when I call her mom, because I remember my mom all the time when I talk to her."
Cecily told us: "Some of the problems I had with my stepdad was him trying to be my daddy. I was raised by a single parent all my life, so it was hard to adjust to something I wasn't used to. We bumped heads a lot but managed to work it out."
Hilary, 13, wrote about her stepbrother: "The good parts are that he loves me, helps me, and takes good care of me. The bad part is that sometimes I feel left out because he's five years older than me."
The truth is, ALL families have problems, and all families are always changing and growing. But adjusting to life with a stepparent and stepsiblings can bring a lot of special challenges. Each person's situation is unique, but there are lots of questions, problems, and solutions that are very common in stepfamilies. We put together this guide to help you understand them and make life with your stepfamily as happy and healthy as it can be.