Parenting and maintaining general family relationships, under "ideal" conditions (i.e. traditional "biological & two parent" households), is difficult even at the best of times. 'Self-help' manuals, magazines, and extensive library shelves offer a varied host of publications on this subject. Generally the information is well received, with changes in trends and knowledge fueling the huge child-care industry.
There is, however, a large and ever growing segment of stepfamilies who have few assistance publications/services available to them. This segment is the Stepfamily or "blended family" as it is sometimes referred to, and to a growing degree, Single Parent families.
Statistics now report that within the next few years, Stepfamilies alone will out-number the traditional nuclear family.
Statistics also confirm yet another trend, this one alarming. While the general divorce rate now hovers at 50%, re-married couples have a divorce rate of nearly 70%, most of them involving children. From small municipalities to metropolitan cities, the swelling ranks of stepfamilies are now placing a significant strain on downsized social service agencies. Counseling is available, but generally beyond the financial reach of most. Their current unmet needs involves a legion of complex, specific issues that affect every member of a stepfamily - and beyond. Families form the foundation of our society. If (as statistics show), most are failing, then our society will become more & more unstable as well.
Enter the Ontario Stepfamily Association, at this time, the only registered stepfamily organization in Canada.
Previous Canadian Stepfamily Association
Several years past, a Mrs. Judith Collar, with the assistance of her husband and several friends, formed the then Canadian Stepfamily Association. Their vehicle for distributing information was a four page newsletter, with articles from various submissions and the current editor/publisher & Step-parent; Judith Collar. Its initial title was simply: "The Canadian Stepfamily Association". The newsletter's sole financial support was a subscription fee of $20.00/year. The newsletter was published quarterly.
A website was briefly in existence under the banner "The Canadian Stepfamily Association". Unfortunately, though the association is now inactive, the title remains listed on the 'stepfamily site', which has in the past resulted in some understandable confusion. That site is quite dead, though this is only apparent when access is attempted. Regrettably to date, repeated requests to Mrs. Collar to have it removed have met with no response.
On October 19, Judith Collar contacted us via telephone. She stated that her organization was "effectively dead", and that we were cleared to proceed with whatever plans we had.
At this point in time, this entry is brief indeed, as the Ontario Stepfamily Association is essentially a new-born baby. With the above association transfer completed, we first embarked on formerly registering the organization, which the previous Association had not done. We are now the ONLY registered Stepfamily Association in Canada.
Once our short-term goals have been realized, we will expand our legally registered reach to all of Canada, at that time becoming the Canadian Stepfamily Foundation.
We are continually recruiting new members to our Board of Directors, an application to which may be obtained by a simple request via email or surface mail.
Of further interest, we have been very fortunate in forming a cooperative with a group of very talented high school students who will be assisting us on an on-going basis with our web site. Their involvement in this and other areas,is profiled under our Mandate: short-term goals.
As ever, research on stepfamilies remains a constant priority, as is the development of strategic alliances with other stepfamily organizations, here and around the world. To those organizations, existing and new, we would be honored if you would let us know of your existence so that we may all network together.