National Stepfamily Day is celebrated annually on September 16 and was founded by Christy Borgeld in 1997. This day is designated as a time for step families to spend time together and for children to honor their stepparents.

According to the U.S. Census:
• Less than 25% of families are traditional nuclear families.
• 50% are some form of stepfamily and one, or both, biological parents has a new partner

Jeannette Lofas, Ph.D., licensed clinical social worker and founder and president of The Stepfamily Foundation, is a stepchild and stepmother herself and is considered a leading expert of stepfamily dynamics.  In 1995 Lofas received a presidential award for her work.

"Years ago a friend of mine from college was complaining about her new husband's children, her stepchildren," said Lofas, in a recent phone interview. "She called me all the time to complain and I told her read a book. There's got to be some advice out there. And there really were no experts in the field. I decided I had to do something."

Lofas has been counseling straight and same sex couples for decades and says the foundation's research shows that 84% of their clients are still together. What are the secrets to happy and healthy stepfamilies?

In a blog, Lofus identifies 10 Common Mistakes for the Stepfamily and writes dealing with the stepfamily as though it were and intact family tops the list. "It will not and cannot function as does a biological family."

Her best advice: Take time to get organized by establishing Family Rules.

"Remember being organized with clear, agreed upon discipline, guidance, love and encouragement is the most important job of the heads of the family," she advises.

Respect each other's differences.

"You must realize you come from different points of view," she said. "All war and conflict occur because we don't honor differences."