Step-Parents of Tots & Teens Support Group

Lehi Marriage Week Coverage

Articles / Town Hall
Date: Apr 21, 2005 - 12:00 AM
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Date: Every fourth Tuesday of the month

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: John Hancock Charter School, 125 N. 100 East, Pleasant Grove

Cost: There is no membership fee.

For more information about SPOT, contact Brenda Smith at 358-0583.

Brenda Armstrong

North County Staff

Local resident and stepparent of 12 years, Brenda Smith founded a stepparent support group, Stepparents of Tots/Teens (SPOT) in February. This program aims at helping local stepparents address the issues associated when raising young and teenage children.

"My main focus was to provide a group where people can obtain assistance and support," Smith said. "This support group provides and offers wonderful speakers, resources, times of sharing and experiences that really work."

SPOT currently meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month. There is no fee associated with joining the group and the next group meeting will be April 26 at 7 p.m. at the John Hancock Charter School, 125 N. 100 East, Pleasant Grove. Pleasant Grove resident Jonathan Sherman, a licensed marriage and family therapist, will be the keynote speaker.

The impact of divorce and dual parental responsibilities has put an increased amount of stress on the family unit, Smith said. Each stepfamily has many challenges.

"Stepfamily members face complicated adjustments to the new family situation," Smith said. "When a stepfamily is formed, the members have no shared family histories or shared ways of doing things."

During the group sessions, organizers hope that individuals will be able to target the unrealistic expectations associated with the stepfamily that may eventually lead to inappropriate behaviors and foster feelings of inadequacy among stepfamily members if the issues are not addressed.

"In a stepfamily, there are usually two sets of parents raising children with often times two sets of values," Smith said. "Children become confused and stepparents question the type of role they should play, their parental rights and limitations, and search for ways to facilitate honor, respect and love from a stepchild."

In addition to becoming a facilitator of support, Smith hopes that SPOT will provide a networking opportunity within the community for individuals with similar circumstances that can extend even beyond the group.

SPOT organizers also encourage both the step and biological parents to attend the support group. With the high incidence of divorce and changing patterns in the core family unit both nationally and locally, there are an increasing numbers of stepfamilies.

According to statistics from the Administrative Office of the Courts in Utah, there were 1,786 divorces filed in Utah County alone in 2004.

Past research suggests that most stepfamilies were formed following the death of a spouse. Today, studies show that most stepfamilies follow a divorce. The National Center for Health Statistics finds that roughly 70 percent of divorced American women and men remarry within 10 years. About 70 percent of these individuals are also parents.

While many family forms exist today, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2010 the family of norm will be the stepfamily.

With the number of stepfamilies steadily increasing, the availability of good parenting information becomes even more important for successful relationships, according to Smith. Until recently, stepparents in Utah Valley did not have a place to turn for support. For more information about SPOT, contact Brenda Smith at 358-0583.

"This is a dual relationship because the step parent has issues and the biological parents should be willing to help with those challenges," Smith said. "Ultimately it is the cooperation between both birth and step parents that determines how well the stepfamily will function."
This story appeared in the North County Newspapers on page A1.

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