'Stepfamilies are one of the fastest growing types of families in the world, but relationships are often difficult because of a lack of clear "rules", very little advice and few good role models, especially in fairy tales,' explains Regent’s University London psychology expert Dr Lisa Doodson.
According to the Office of National Statistics, nearly 1.1 million dependent children live in more than 544,000 stepfamilies across England and Wales, highlighting the urgent need for greater guidance for parents and support from family specialists.
As a result, Lisa’s new book, Understanding Stepfamilies - a practical guide for professionals working with blended families, will be launched on Thursday 5 May 2016 at Regent's University London, to help address the most important challenges facing stepfamilies.
Lisa explains: 'I found out about many of these difficulties myself as both a psychologist studying stepmothers and personally, when I met my husband who had an 18-month-old son from his previous marriage, while I had a three-year-old son and a daughter aged six.
'I went into these new circumstances thinking – "I’m already a mum, how hard can it be?"
'This turned out to be naïve. Not because I hadn’t thought it through, but because you don’t even know what the issues are until you face them.
'Being a stepmother was more difficult than I had ever imagined, and if someone had told me then that it could take seven years to build a family I would have been shocked.
'For my academic research, I interviewed 250 stepmothers and discovered they had significantly higher anxiety levels and depression than biological mothers, and they also had poorer support than biological families.
'I often see couples two years into their stepfamily experience when they’re thinking, "hang on, I didn’t sign up for this." This is why it’s vital to know what to expect as a stepparent, how to navigate the pitfalls, and above all how to be realistic in your expectations.
'No, you don’t go off immediately and live happily ever after, although there are plenty of happy endings. The rewards can be incredible in the long-term: our children are now 22, 19 and 17 and we have built a very happy family together.'
Information about the event
Thursday 5 May, 17:00 – 19:00, Regent's University London, Inner Circle, Regents Park, NW1 4NS.
The event will begin with a seminar led by Dr Doodson, followed by refreshments, networking and an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of the book.
Please RSVP Vaneeta Kaurkudha to reserve your place.