Your Family
What is a Family? 

Different Types of Families
In the last few decades, American families have changed significantly. New combinations of family households are more common than ever before, with the increase in divorce and remarriage, adoption, foster parenting, single parenthood, kinship care and same-sex relationships. A mother and father living together with their children is now just one possibility among many. In short, a family is any group of people who live together, share with one another, work together, care and support each other, keep each other safe and love each other.

For Single Parents
If you’re a single parent, you face extra challenges that two-parent families don’t have. Here are suggestions for reducing stress, getting help and strengthening your relationship with your child.

  • Take care of yourself: make sure you eat right, rest, exercise and find time for yourself.
  • Set aside time every day to be with your child, listen to her, talk to her, encourage her and have fun.
  • Don’t take your anger and frustrations out on your child; express those feelings appropriately but not to your child.
  • Enlist the help of friends and relatives to help with child care, transportation or shopping.
  • Talk with your child and be clear about the values and principles you want to guide your family.
  • Be a positive role model and show how you live by your values and beliefs.
  • Reassure your child that she is valued, loved and that you will always love her and care for her.
  • Give children a sense of safety and security by establishing routines for dinner, homework and bedtime.

Blended Families
Blended families occur when two people marry, and each of them has children from an earlier household. Living in a blended family is common, but there can be challenges. With planning, communication, respect and a positive attitude, families can meet the challenges. Here are practical suggestions for blended families:

  • Talk to your child long before the two families move in together so he/she knows what to expect.
  • Don’t expect your stepchildren to call you “Mom” or “Dad.”
  • Spend time with each child and stepchild.
  • Make sure both parents adopt the same values, rules and ways of disciplining.
  • Don’t push children to be close to their new brothers and sisters.
  • Work together to establish new traditions and rituals that everyone is comfortable with.

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