Care for the Family Launches New Course to Support Stepfamilies
Care for the Family has launched a timely resource to support newly formed stepfamilies in some of the challenges they may face as they build their new world together.
Published 17 October 2006 | Maria Mackay
National charity Care for the Family has launched a new special course designed to help engaged couples with children from previous relationships think through some of the issues that will arise as they form a stepfamily.
Stepfamilies are the fastest-growing family type in the UK, and it is predicted that by 2010 there will be more children living in a stepfamily than in a biological family.
Currently four in ten marriages is a remarriage for at least one of the adults and there are around one million dependent stepchildren under 16 years old.
The new course, From This Step Forward, has been created to make up for the lack of suitable marriage preparation material currently available in the UK that is specifically tailored for those who are starting a stepfamily.
Christine Tufnell, Care for the Family's stepfamily project manager, is delighted that From This Step Forward is now available.
"We are very aware that stepfamilies face all the challenges of regular family life with a whole lot more thrown into the mix as well," she said.
"Stepfamilies are different and mean living with other people's children. The couple relationship has to develop in front of the children and this can place enormous pressure on the partnership and directly contribute to that marriage breaking down."
According to estimates, at least 50 per cent of remarriages which form a stepfamily end in divorce, while an alarming 25 per cent of stepfamilies break down in the first year.
A recent survey carried out by Care for the Family with readers of Instep, its newsletter for stepfamilies, revealed the urgent need for From this Step Forward.
The survey found that only 7 per cent of those marrying again had received any specific guidance about marrying a new partner with children and forming a stepfamily, despite a considerable 43 per cent having received at least some marriage preparation.
Seventy-four per cent also said that life in a stepfamily had been different from their expectations before they married. Many of those preparing to form a stepfamily said they were apprehensive about living in a stepfamily situation.
David and Linda Savage have been among the first marriage counsellors to use From This Step Forward. They are both professional counsellors offering a wide range of services, and consider From This Step Forward an important part of the services they offer.
In their testimony to the effectiveness of the course, they said: "It's very good, very relevant. The couple we are doing the course with found it interesting and could identify with the issues being raised. It is helping them recognise the difference between them and they are making positive changes to their relationship as a result."
David and Linda, who have personal experience of life in a stepfamily, believe there is "a great need" for From This Step Forward.
"We personally found that it was not just discussing theory. It worked through a lot of issues we have faced, and we were able to relate to much of the material from our own experience."
From This Step Forward has been produced to be used primarily by church leaders, marriage mentors and others seeking to prepare couples with children from a previous relationship for marriage. It is also possible for the couple to work through the course by themselves.
The main modules of From This Step Forward are as follows:
1.The Couple Relationship
4.The Extended Family
From This Step Forward is available as a CD-Rom from Care for the Family, PO Box 488, Cardiff CF15 7YY, or by phoning (029) 2081 0800, and costs £19.99.
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