Sadly, sometimes a family is split up. Maybe the mum and dad decide to live apart, maybe the mum or the daddies.

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 step parent in the kid’s life may have kids of his or her own too.

This is having a stepfamily. Those kids are not natural brothers and sisters, they are stepsiblings, which means a step brother or step sister. Everyone in stepfamily needs to work together to make the family home a happy and safe place for everyone.

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

• You are part of a family again.
• You may feel safer.
• It is 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.
• You may even have a new brother or sister to love.

There are some not so good things about stepfamilies:

• Getting used to being part of a family again may sometimes be difficult.
• You 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.
• You may not see one lot of your grandparents or cousins very often or not at all.

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 step kids may feel that they are too strict, too easy, wanting to change everything, or do not care about them. The step kids may believe that they only have to listen to their own parent.
Having step siblings 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.
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 is what a family is about.