About Stepfamily Identity

    Premise - identity is all the traits and characteristics that distinguish one thing from similar things (e.g. a rose is not a daisy because...). All families are similar in some ways, and unique in others. Typical stepfamilies differ more from intact biofamilies than any other type of family, so they always have a unique identity traits. So what?

    Family adults and supporters who ignore their identity as stepfamily before or after cohabiting are at high risk of wrongly assuming that stepfamily roles and relationships should be "pretty much like" those in typical intact biofami-lies. This error causes confusions, disappointments, frustrations, and con-flicts in and among stepfamily kids and adults. These will continue until all members accept their identity and what it means. Stepfamily identity con-flicts occur when some members accept their identity and others don't.

    Some signs of real (vs. token) identity-acceptance are (a) adults and kids spontaneously using the prefix "step" at home and in public ("This is my stepbrother Juan."); and (b) co-parents openly discussing the differences be-tween stepfamilies and intact biofamilies, and (c) telling others they're a step-family ("I'm Jason's second wife, and Megan's stepmom.") People who un/ consciously avoid using "step" terms and titles are usually (a) wounded and unaware, and are (b) ashamed, guilty, and/or anxious about stepfamily reali-ties ("I confess I care more for my own child than my stepkids.")

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