Lesson 7 of 7 - evolve a high-nurturance stepfamily

Q&A About Stepchildren

Do You Know What They Need?

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council


The Web address of this article is https://sfhelp.org/sf/co/qa_sc.htm

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This is one of a series of lesson-7 articles on how to evolve a high-nurturance stepfamily. The "/" in re/marriage and re/divorce notes that it may be a stepparent's first union. "Co-parents" means both bioparents, or any of the three or more stepparents and bioparents co-managing a multi-home nuclear stepfamily.

      This article assumes you're familiar with....

  • the intro to this nonprofit Web site and the premises underlying it

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 thru 7 

  • typical stepkids' adjustment needs

  • perspective on effective parenting

  • Q&A about stepparenting and stepsiblings

      This article suggests questions stepfamily adults and supporters should research about the kids in their stepfamily. Typically, they don't know what they need to know about (a) their kids' normal and special needs, and (b) how to fill them effectively.

      This brief YouTube video offers perspective on the needs of typical kids in broken families. The video mentions eight lessons in this Web site - I've simplified that to seven.

      Links below lead to brief answers to each question and to articles with more detail. These answers are based on my 36 years' clinical research, work with members of over 500 typical Midwestern-U.S. stepfamilies, and my own experience as a stepfather and an adult stepchild.

      I suggest you scan all the questions before following any links.

 Questions You Should Ask about Stepchildren

1)  Do (a) typical children of divorce and (b) kids raised in stepfamilies "turn out" as well as kids growing up in intact biofamilies?

2)  Do typical stepkids have special needs, compared to intact-biofamily kids?

3)  Can typical stepchildren learn to love a stepmother or stepfather like a bioparent?

4)  Is there a best time for a minor child's single bioparent to start dating? To re/marry?

5)  Why do some stepkids reject the nicest stepparents and/or step-relatives? Who's responsible for reducing this, and how can they do so?

6)  How can co-parents best help stepsiblings relate to each other?

7)  Is there anything different about child discipline in a typical multi-home nuclear stepfamily?

8)  How can co-parents best handle a stepchild's accusation of unfair or mean discipline?

9)  What is a "half brother" or "half sister"? Are they a "stepchild"?

10)  Do we need to know anything special about stepsons vs. stepdaughters?

11)  Can a stepchild's biofamily birth-order be significant in their family roles and what they need from other members?

12)  Can adult stepchildren cause co-parents special problems?

13)  One of my stepkids has been diagnosed as having ADD. (Attention Deficit Disorder) or A.D.D. / H.D. (Hyperactivity Disorder). What do my partner and I need to know about this?

14)  One of our stepkids seems seriously depressed. What can we do to help?

15)  What is  Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and why should our co-parents and family supporters know about it?

16)  One or more of the minor kids in our stepfamily is psychologically wounded. What can we adults do?

 If you don't see your question here, please ask!



Q1)  Do children of divorce and kids raised in stepfamilies "turn out" as well as kids from intact biofamilies?

       How a child "turns out" from the nurturing they receive may be judged in many ways...

  • self-reported "happiness"

  • healthy relationships

  • financial independence

  • adult self-sufficiency

  • wholistic health

  • spiritual maturity

  • marital satisfaction

  • parenting effectiveness

  • career satisfaction

  • a mix of these

      There are also many variables researchers use to compare intact biofamilies with other types of family. For example...

  • parent's age at marriage

  • average annual income

  • children's gender

  • geographic location

  • parent's ethnic background

  • urban, suburban, or rural

  • parent's education level

  • parents' religious preference

  • closeness of extended family

  • parent's race/s

  • the number of kids, and parents' ages at birth

      Because family researchers don't agree on which criteria to use, studies on whether children of divorcing parents or stepfamily co-parents "turn out" as well as average intact-biofamily kids result in "yes" to "it depends on..." to "no."

      After 36 years' clinical research, I propose...

there are specific factors that affect the nurturance level of any family - i.e. how well members fill each others' primary needs;  

adult children from high-nurturance families seem to have fewer health, relationship, financial, and occupational "problems" than kids raised in low-nurturance families. A recent multi-year UCLA study of studies appears to validate this;

parental divorce suggests one or both parents survived low-nurturance childhoods, and so are at higher risk of significant psychological wounds;

without significant true (vs. pseudo) recovery, wounded co-parents tend to choose each other repeatedly to form stepfamilies; and...

typical U.S. divorcing families and stepfamilies seem to have lower nurturance levels than intact biofamilies, and stepfamily mates may legally divorce more often;

      So I propose that...

kids of parental divorce and re/marriage have higher odds of sustaining significant false-self wounds than peers in intact high-nurturance biofamilies.

Bottom line: using symptoms of psychological wounds as a yardstick, I suspect that average American kids of parental divorce and re/marriage do not "turn out as well" as kids raised in high-nurturance intact biofamilies.

      Implications: co-parents, churches, human-service professionals, and family-law legislators need to...

  • help typical young adults to want to...

    • understand this toxic cycle that threatens them and any descendents,

    • identify and reduce their psychological wounds (Lesson 1),

    • learn how to make three wise courtship choices (Lesson 4); and...

    • intentionally grow high-nurturance families together; and...

  • provide resources to help young parents to do that; and they need to...

  • prevent premature first-marriages and unqualified child conceptions.

This non-profit Web site and its guidebooks promote these goals. If you know anyone considering first marriage or re/marriage, urge them to (a) heed these danger signs, (b) assess for psychological wounds, and then (c) commit to studying  these Lessons before saying "I do"!


Q2)  Do typical stepkids have special needs, compared to intact-biofamily kids?

      Yes. Typical minor stepkids have normal developmental needs and unique mixes of additional family-adjustment needs that typical intact-biofamily kids don't have.

      As divorcing-family and stepfamily adults try to help dependent kids fill both sets of needs, they must also identify and fill their own concurrent sets of core + adjustment + daily-living needs, and help each other to find effective support and stay balanced as they do.


Q3)  Can typical stepchildren learn to love a stepmother or stepfather like a bioparent?

      Ask ten people to define "love" between a parent and a child, and expect ten different answers. The intense interest, caring, and affection that matures over years between well-bonded bioparents and children is hard to define and quantify.  Opinions vary on whether the bond between wholistically-healthy (unw3ounded) biochildren and their parents are the same as love.

      Depending on many factors, typical stepchildren may develop genuine respect, trust, friendship, caring for (bonds with) a stepfather or stepmother, and vice versa. Because such duos have...

  • no genetic and ancestral connections,

  • no shared infantile-dependency years, and...

  • lower social acceptance than bioparents and kids,

...the best stepparent - stepchild bonds can approach the feeling of bioparent-biochild love, but usually can't duplicate it. This difference is intellectual and trivial for some people.

      People who expect stepparents and stepkids to develop respect and liking for each other over time ("friendship") are less apt to feel frustration than the step-adults who believe they must love each other like bioparents and kids. Demanding that people feel and express "love" is a stressful be-spontaneous! paradox.

      Such demands suggests major psychological wounding, and guarantee significant family confusion, pretense, frustration, guilt, anxiety, and shame. Most informed stepfamily commentators warn against embracing the myth of "instant love." This is among the best known of ~60 common misconceptions about typical stepfamily structures, roles, relationships, and development.


Q4)  Is there a best time for a single parent to start dating? To re/marry?

      Yes and yes. The timing of a divorcing or widowed bioparent's decisions to start dating and to  re/ marry and/or cohabit with a new partner is one of three crucial decisions that will shape their family's ongoing nurturance levels and their kids' wholistic health.  

      Most divorce-recovery literature suggests that starting to date seriously within 12 to 18 months after marital separation or mate death risks (a) too little grief and personal stability, (b) making unbalanced (over-needy) relationship and priority decisions, and (c) stressing all well-bonded family kids and adults.

      My clinical experience suggests that commitment to a new partner and/or cohabiting in less than ~24 months after a mate's funeral or a legal divorce decree steeply risks future re/divorce. Every adult and child has a unique style and pace of mourning their major losses so the "safe" number of months is directly proportional to the slowest griever among ex mates and each of their minor or grown children.

      Typical co-parents who date seriously or re/commit too quickly are usually...

  • survivors of a low-nurturance childhood and first marriage, who are...

  • ruled by needy false selves focused on immediate satisfaction rather than making wise wide-angle, long-range life decisions for them and their minor kids.

      For more perspective on this complex right-time question, see this worksheet.


Q5)  Why do some stepkids reject the nicest stepparents and/or step-relatives? Who's responsible for reducing this, and how can they do so?

      Typical new stepmoms and stepdads are at their cordial, friendly best with their partner's kids, only to receive grunts, no eye contact, sullen shrugs, and hurtful avoidances and rejections. Stepkids' cold shoulders can extend to stepsiblings and the warmest step-relatives, despite parental requests, lectures, or attempts to problem-solve.

      Steppeople can react from amusement to puzzlement to self-doubt to hurt to resentment - specially if the "rude" stepchild behavior persists despite respectful confrontations and friendly overtures. Adults may err by unconsciously using traditional biofamily behavioral expectations to gauge their stepkids' attitudes and actions.

      There are several possible causes for stepchild "rejections." Partners understanding and accepting them can ease tensions, shift expectations, and open up new long-term options. Common causes include...

the child is temporarily overwhelmed by local changes in their body, social circle, school, and family circumstances. Typical minor stepkids can't articulate their daunting mix of overlapping developmental and family-adjustment needs. They depend on their co-parents to know and empathically help with these, while the adults fill their own needs and manage family changes effectively; and/or...

the stepchild is grieving of two or more sets of losses and their anger, indifference, or hostility are normal symptoms of that healing process. Grief is an automatic mental + psychological + spiritual response, so lecturing, pleading, hinting, preaching, demanding, or explaining will probably hinder or block it and cause other problems.

      A more helpful adult reaction is to want to learn good-grief basics and intentionally provide a pro-grief environment in their related stepfamily homes - i.e. work on co-parent Lesson 3 together and alert other relatives to it. Can you describe your family's present grieving policy? Does it encourage healthy mourning in your adults and kids?

      Other possible causes  of stepchild rejection include...

the child may be unconsciously testing for reassurance that their re/marrying bioparent won't abandon them or "demote them" relative to the new steppeople. Where this is so, verbal reassurance of parental love and concern is of little value in quelling this instinctive anxiety. Actions count much more.


the child feels caught in one or more values and/or loyalty conflicts and associated relationship triangles, and their behavior is their way of protesting and expressing their confusion, guilt, anxiety, and frustration. This is specially likely if the child's other bioparent or a key relative rejects their stepfamily identity or ignores what it means, and/or s/he dislikes, resents, disrespects, or fears the steppeople.

      Antidote: maintain a long-range view (15 years or more), select among these options, and patiently help each other with these self-improvement Lessons;

And/or the "rejected" stepparent may be...

  • pretending friendship s/he doesn't feel;

  • favoring their own child/ren;

  • treating the child's bioparent/s and/or other children disrespectfully

  • "invading" the child's home

  • too unsure of their new role

  • being too nice, instead of genuine

  • setting limits too soon and/or too harshly; and/or...

  • disrespecting or scaring the child

      Once aware of these normal stepfamily dynamics, co-parent partners can reduce them over time if...

_ their true Selves usually guide their personality, and...

_ they're adept at the Lesson-2 communication skills, and...

_ they accept their stepfamily identity and what it means, and adults...

_ are managing the child's set of adjustment needs effectively, and...

_ they're knowledgably supporting the child's mourning (above), and if co-parents are...

_ intentionally balancing all of these and other life relationships and activities well enough.

      Another possibility has no cure, and merits using these timeless guidelines: the stepchild and/or stepperson/s may simply have "bad chemistry." If patient work on options like these yields no significant improvement, consider professional help, and/or use these worksheets to check whether one or both co-parents made up to three unwise courtship choices.


Q6)  How can co-parents best help stepsiblings adjust to and bond with each other?

      One of the many structural differences among typical stepfamilies is the mix of stepbrothers, step-sisters, and "ours" children. Some new stepkids are used to being an only child. Others have never had a (step)sister or (step)brother before.

      Still others have never had teen or grown siblings before their parent re/married and cohabited. While your circumstances are unique, there are some general things you co-parents can do to help your kids adjust to each other well and promote bonding among them over time. Follow the link.


Q7)  Is there anything different about child discipline in a multi-home nuclear stepfamily?

      Yes. The goals of child discipline are usually the same in any home or family: to guide, instruct, and protect children, and preserve local order and comfort. However, there can be up to 21 concurrent environmental differences between child discipline in intact biofamilies and in multi-home stepfamilies.

      When co-parents...

  • are ruled by false selves,

  • deny or minimize their stepfamily identity,

  • haven't evolved effective strategies to master values and loyalty conflicts and relationship triangles, and/or...

  • aren't aware of these 21 discipline-differences and their impacts, then

"child discipline" can cause major conflict in and between related co-parenting homes.


Q8)  How can co-parents best resolve a stepchild's accusation of unfair or mean discipline?

      When a stepchild persistently accuses a co-parent of "unfair" or "mean" discipline, one or more of these may be occurring:

the child is insecure, and is semi-consciously testing to see who their bioparent (or someone else) supports. If the child gets enough credible behavioral (vs. verbal) reassurance that s/he is still important enough to her or his bioparent, the accusations should dwindle; and/ or...

the stepparent is setting firmer limits than the child is used to, and the child is protesting the loss of some former freedoms or permissions; and/or...

the way  the stepparent is setting limits [e.g. sarcastic, demanding, over-explaining, blaming, comparing to another child (shaming), threatening, lecturing, etc.] legitimately bothers the child, and s/he cannot describe these irritants or what s/he needs; and/or...

the child feels the consequences of rule-breaking are too harsh; and/or...

the child hasn't grieved enough, so s/he hasn't accepted that the stepparent has the right to set family limits and enforce consequences; and/or...

the stepparent has been too vague or ambiguous in describing limits or consequences, so "unfair" means unclear; and/or...

the child feels caught in one or more loyalty conflicts or relationship triangles, and has no concepts or words to describe that, or what s/he needs; and/or...

the child feels bored, and likes generating conflict (excitement) and feeling powerful, and/ or...

the stepchild feels unheard by the stepparent (i.e. disrespected and frustrated); and/or...

a mix of these, or something else.

      The theme of all these is that "mean" or "unfair" discipline is not the real issue, but the child can't - or feels unsafe to - say what s/he really feels or needs. See this for more perspective and options on resolving this.


Q9)  What is a "half brother" or "half sister"? Are they a "stepchild"?

      A half brother or half sister has the same mother or father but a different father or mother than their siblings. This can occur when a re/married parent conceives a child with a new mate. Half of such children's genes are the same as their brothers' or sisters', and half are different.

      Unless stepkids have been legally adopted, half-sibling's last names differ from the other child/ren, which can be confusing in school, church, and social circumstances. So can this: if they live with their bioparents, half-siblings are not stepchildren, though their mom and/or dad may also have the role of stepparent to resident or visiting stepchildren.

      If co-parents and/or relatives aren't clear on these ideas, everyone can feel confused or conflictual on their stepfamily's - or the half-sibling's - identity and family membership ("You're not a real sister, you're only a half sister.") This can promote jealousy, insecurity, hurt, competition, and significant loyalty conflicts and relationship triangles - specially if co-parents disagree on what's true here and/or who's "right;" and/or the adults don't know how to communicate effectively. 


Q10)   Do we need to know anything special about stepsons vs. stepdaughters?

      Co-parenting effectiveness may increase if all caregivers appreciate at least three things about normal male-female gender differences:

      First, typical female brains are neurologically "wired differently" than male brains. They have different priorities, and tend to process information organically (see all aspects at once) rather than "logically" (see things sequentially). Typical female brains prize cooperation, relationships, feelings, sensing, process, and emotional closeness, while average male brains care more about logic, competing, action (aggression), order, goals, and achieving. There are many variations (!) 

      Second, in their interesting book "Brain Sex - The Real Difference Between Men and Women" bio-geneticist Anne Moir and David Jessel make a convincing case that depending on key factors, a male child may keep his "female brain," or a baby girl may evolve a "male brain." These may or may not affect the child's gender-identity and sexual preferences.

      Co-parents who don't accept this may cause frustration, anxiety, guilt, hurt, and anger by expecting male behaviors from a boy with a "female brain," or female behaviors from a girl with a "male brain." Since we aren't born with brain-labels, co-parents are better off accepting each child for who they seem to be, rather than trying to force gender-stereotypical behavior on them ["No, Jerome, (normal) boys don't go to ballet class. Let's see about soccer."];

      Third, typical girls mature faster than boys. Co-parents who don't know or accept this can shame a stepson for "not being (sensitive, polite, tactful, calm, or cooperative) like your (same-age) sister."

      In some new stepfamilies, kids are suddenly confronted with living with an opposite-gender sibling for the first time ("Yesterday, I had two sisters. Then Mom got married again, so today I have this dorky stepbrother too!") Such kids may need age-appropriate explanation about normal gender differences to help them understand and accept each other's feelings, reactions, and "weird" behaviors and traits. 

      These points suggest that effective co-parents will help each other honor and adapt to the gender differences in their kids, and not over-focus on role differences (stepson vs. stepdaughter).


Q11)  Can a stepchild's biofamily birth-order be significant in their family roles and what they need from other members?

      Some family-life and child-development researchers believe that parents should take birth-order into account in raising each child - specially in nurturing "problem children." See Living In A Stepfamily Without Getting Stepped On - Helping Your Children Survive the Birth-order Blender; by Dr. Kevin Leman for helpful perspective and recommendations.

      Also be aware that when co-parents each have prior kids and first move in together, each resident or visiting child will experience a "rank" and identity change ("I've always been the oldest kid in out family. Now I have two older stepbrothers, so all of a sudden I'm the youngest kid. This feels weird.")

      Some children will be indifferent to this. Some will be pleased or relieved. Kids who use their family rank to bolster their self esteem or security may be significantly upset by this rank-change. The latter will need encouragement to grieve their losses as they adjust to alien stepfamily life.


Q12)  Can adult stepchildren cause co-parents special problems?

      Unaware older re/marriers can set themselves up for significant conflict and stress in courtship  by assuming "We'll all come to feel like a regular (bio)family because our kids are grown and independent." Usually that's only half true. (The "/" in re/marry notes that it may be a stepparent's first union.) 

      Older re/marriers are spared the confusion and conflict associated with raising minor kids. Often, relations with ex mates have mellowed or ended, and major disputes over finances, visitations, custody, health, and education are muted or memories.

      However, everyone's need to grieve many losses (broken bonds), and the potential for stepfamily identity, membership, values, loyalty, communication, and financial conflicts is just as great as in stepfamilies with younger kids. This stress potential can be greatly reduced if co-parents start working diligently at these Lessons together well before deciding to exchange commitment vows.

      Note also that...

  • the conception of (step)grandchildren,

  • making or revising legal wills, and/or...

  • the retirement, disabling, or death of a bioparent, ex mate, or adult child (i.e. losses)...

...can activate sets of these divisive stepfamily conflicts even if relations to date have been cordial enough. This is specially likely if changes like these are unforeseen or poorly planned. See this for more perspective on adult stepchildren.


Q13)  One of my stepkids has been diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and/or Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD / HD). What do we adults need to know about this?

      In my clinical experience since 1981, ADD and HD seem to be unusually common in typical U.S. divorcing families and stepfamilies. ADD is characterized by a chronic difficulty in staying mentally focused, which usually (not always) manifests in childhood.

      Kids with HD frustrate adults and peers by being in constant motion, despite (a) their setting (like a classroom, church, or dinner table); or (b) adult limits and consequences ("I just can't help it, Mom!") The combination of ADD + HD is specially stressful for the child and people around them.

      I'm not medically trained, and can't evaluate whether these two common stressors are primarily caused by unbalanced brain functioning or hormones. Often these conditions do improve with appropriate medication and changes in the child's social environments. That implies these are genetic or biological problems. However, for over a decade, I've repeatedly seen that...

most (all?) ADD/HD kids are growing up in significantly low-nurturance (dysfunctional) families headed by wounded, unaware co-parents; and...

typical teachers, tutors, and psychiatrists don't know this and what it means; and...

adults who have trouble staying focused or quiet are often controlled by conflicted, chaotic false selves, and don't know it or what to do about it; and...

such adults who work patiently at freeing their true Self to harmonize and lead their team of personality subselves spontaneously report improved concentration and focus, less "mind chatter, "nervousness," and "jumpiness," and more frequent periods of physical and mental calmness.

      Implication: if you have an ADD, HD, or ADD/HD child or adult in your life, consider that chaotic personality subselves and low-nurturance (chaotic, stressful) family environment may be promoting these conditions.

      If so, prescription medication only treats the symptoms, not the causes. Chemicals may promote a critic self-concept ("I'm sick - I have a major disease and disability") and an expensive life-long dependency which unintentionally blocks reduction of significant psychological wounds.

      Restated: ADD and/or HD in kids may be a symptom of wounded co-parents and ancestors ruled by false selves, rather than a personal medical problem. From 36 years' clinical experience, I'm convinced that personality subselves regularly affect body chemistry and function well below conscious awareness.

      Research confirms the reality of psychosomatic (psychologically-based) illness, but clinical awareness of normal personality subselves and their impacts is just dawning. Even fewer lay people know about it. 


Q14)   One of my / our stepkids seems seriously depressed. What can we do to help?

      Adult and child depression is widespread enough in our society to justify a multi-million (billion?) dollar treatment, medication, and advertising industry. Informed opinions range from believing clinical depression is purely biochemical to totally sociological (environmental). From my clinical experience with hundreds of average divorcing families and stepfamilies since 1981, I suggest that excessive or prolonged...

  • apathy or listlessness;

  • sleeping or "lying around;"

  • social withdrawals;

  • repeated anger or weeping outbursts;

  • use of repressive chemicals (like fat, sugar, nicotine, and alcohol); and/or...

  • disinterest in friends and normal life activities and pleasures...

are often signs of normal or incomplete grief, not depression. Note how different it feels to say "My (step)child is mourning a complex web of major losses from divorce (or parent death) and our forming a stepfamily," rather than "My (step)child is seriously depressed."

      To make this more real and credible...

take this good-grief quiz,

read and discuss these co-parent Lesson-1 and Lesson-3 overviews, and then...

read this brief research summary about "complicated grief;" and then

assess yourselves and your child for inherited psychological wounds, incomplete grief, and an anti-grief family grief policy. Then...

consider reducing or ending your family member's dependence on mood-control or anti-depression medication, with qualified medical supervision.

This mis-diagnosis idea also applies labeling symptoms as manic depression, mania, bi-polar disorder, ADD/HD, (some) sleep disorders, "poor impulse control," Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and similar clinical "conditions."


Q15)  What is  Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and why should co-parents and family supporters know about it?

      RAD is a psychiatric label used primarily with children who demonstrate a marked inability to form normal emotional bonds with safe, nurturing caregivers. If not recognized and treated effectively, this tragic condition can prevent forming genuine attachments with some or all adults and children later in life.

      Current evidence suggests that RAD is a sign of profound trauma early in life, where the child did not experience a reliable nurturing bond with one or more caregivers - i.e. they survived severe abandonment, neglect, abuse, addicted or emotionally-unavailable (wounded) caregivers, and other trauma - i.e. they survived a very low-nurturance environment.

      My consistent clinical experience with over 1,000 typical Midwestern-US co-parents since 1981 is that a high percentage of American divorcing-family and stepfamily co-parents survived low-nurturance (traumatic) childhoods, and choose each other as partners despite painful prior experiences with similar (wounded) people;

      Premise - RAD is probably a symptom of a disorganized personality ruled by subselves who learned from experience that bonding with (interest in, caring about, needing) another person always resulted in agony - e.g. disappointment + rejection + abandonment + hurt + guilt + anxieties + shame + rage + despair + injury + overwhelm.

      A significant number of wounded adults experience serious RAD symptoms as normal. They don't know about this inability to bond, what caused it, or what it means (no real bonding, and resulting emptiness, numbness, and despair - a "hole in the Soul"). This and the other five psychological wounds strangle their ability to...

  • form and maintain healthy primary relationships,

  • nurture themselves; and...

  • provide the emotional-spiritual nurturance that adult partners and dependent kids need from them.

People who say "I love you" without real feeling, "express love through material things," and (some) who divorce are probably badly wounded and unaware of or denying this tragic condition.

      If the premises above are true, a vital implication is that RAD is a family problem (like addiction), not just a personal disorder. My clinical experience is that psychological wounds - including difficulty bonding - can be significantly reduced once the person...

  • understands and accepts their wounds,

  • hits true (vs. pseudo or trial) bottom, and...

  • commits to personal wound-reduction.

      Lesson 1 in this wound-prevention Web site focuses on an effective way to do that.

      To gauge whether you or someone you care about may have a significant level of Reactive Attachment Disorder (a disabled true Self), see  this article and symptom checklist, and these Web sites: About.com, and ATTACh - the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children.


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