Next Steps 4 Stepfamilies



Did you know . . .

  • Nearly half of all families in Buffalo and Pepin Counties are stepfamilies.
  • Stepfamilies are more complex than first families, and operate differently in many ways.
  • New relationships among family members take time to blossom and often need education and support to make happen.
  • Stepparenting develops much differently from parenting; understanding the factors and forces helps adults and youth toward positive development.
  • Children have concerns about how a new stepparent relationship may/will affect their relationship with their original parent.
  • Children have difficulty managing one family among multiple households.
  • The marital relationship in a stepfamily is vulnerable to many forces, and requires special attention, protection and skill development in order to be strong and successful.
  • Families who participate in an education program enjoy greater overall family satisfaction, reporting less family stress and conflict with stronger, healthier relationships.
  • Stepfamily research suggests that family integration most likely takes as long as the age of the child.
  • As of 2006, there were more subsequent marriages than first-family marriages in Buffalo County.


UW-Extension is excited to offer a new program to stepfamilies in Buffalo County. This program is designed to offer:

  • Families a process to navigate change and to form a healthy identity, rules and expectations, and nurturing relationships.
  • Children skills and strategies to help contribute to a positive stepfamily experience AND manage one family among multiple households.
  • Parents skills and strategies to protect and strengthen their couple relationship AND develop positive, healthy family relationships between adults and children.
  • All family members tools for good communication, managing conflict and problem solving.

In a comfortable setting, families can expect to:

  • learn in interactive and fun ways
  • meet other stepfamilies
  • learn with peers for a part of the time and learn together with their family a part of the time
  • enjoy a family meal
  • gain skills and understanding for a healthier and stronger family

How do stepfamilies benefit from this program?

Your UW-Extension instructors have earned national certification in stepfamily education, and with their experience and training, have carefully designed a program to meet the complex and unique needs of stepfamilies in Buffalo and Pepin Counties. Materials and activities are based on research and experience from national leader in the study of stepfamily health and dynamics.

Above all else, the most important benefit of educational programming is that family members understand the fundamental characteristics of stepfamilies. This alone will increase healthy relationship development between all family members.

Families who participate report a greater overall family satisfaction with stronger and healthier relationships, and less family stress and conflict.

Couples strengthen their relationship, which increases the likelihood of a long-lasting and satisfying life together.

Children contribute in positive ways to the formation and functioning of a healthy stepfamily.

For more information, please call the Buffalo County UW-Extension Office at 608-685-6256 or email Mary Wood at



Mary Wood, M.S. ~ Buffalo & Pepin Counties Family Living Agent

Annie Lisowski, M.S. ~ Buffalo County 4-H & Youth Development Educator


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