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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Episode 52 (Epilogue): Blended Families

To start the show we discussed next week’s WSLR membership drive. We encouraged our wonderful listeners to consider volunteering for the membership drive or to think about contributing. We also reminded everyone to listen to our special birthday show next week, where we will be hearing from some of our area midwives about their own birth stories.

We then gave an update about Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s board meeting regarding the lactation counseling program. There has been no official response from SMH or from Women and Children’s Services, but we do know that the cutting of this program was not a board decision, but instead an already approved measure on the 2013 budget. There is talk of a concession in which patients will pay a fee to receive these services. Although this may not seem like the best option, as it may lead to widening gaps in access to care based on socioeconomic position, it means not doing away we the program entirely. We ended this conversation by reminding listeners that some kind of solution must be made by October 1st, and asking if anyone in our community has any idea which may be the answer the problem.

The topic of this show was blended families, also known as stepfamilies, and the unique parenting situations which these types of families must face. To give us some perspective on the particular challenges stepfamilies deal with, we first talked to Jerold Stone. Jerry is an area Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who also works closely within the 12th Judicial Circuit as a forensic consultant, custody evaluator, parenting coordinator and mediator. Jerry focused the conversation on the challenges that children face when entering into stepfamilies. He highlighted the fact that children do not choose to enter into these new family relationships, and emphasized the need for consistency, support, and fostering trust in these children. We discussed some of the specific issues faced by children entering into blended families, such as feelings of exclusion on multiple different familial levels (“old” family, “new” family, stepparent’s extended family) and feelings of loneliness. Jerry also concentrated, however, on the ways in which parents of stepfamilies can create positive family bonds, such as working on successful co-parenting, identifying and addressing problems in the family unit, and educating themselves about issues relevant to blended families. In particular, Jerry pointed to the New York Longitudinal Study as a resource for individuals to identify their “temperament style” and learn to work with one another in parenting.

We next move to talk to some local parents about their experiences living in blended families. We spoke with Moriah Herrygers and Kim and Dustin Cooley. They discussed what they had found to be most important to creating successful stepfamilies within their own household, honing in on children’s need for consistency. These parents also talked with Jerry Stone about children’s ability to absorb negativity between their parents and partners, and the need to try to keep relationships with ex’s as stable and positive as possible for the children’s sake.

Resources from the Show:
Children First- Nurturing Dad's Initative
Stepfamily Network Forum 
Remarriage Works Online Magazine 

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