address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/sf/similar.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.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This is one of a series
of Lesson-7 articles
on howtoevolve a
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
related stepparents and bioparents managing a multi-home
This two-part YouTube video sets the stage for what you're about to
read. The video mentions eight lessons in this self-improvement Web site -
I've simplified that to seven.
To evolve a high-nurturance
must accept their
and learn what their identity
acceptance can be hindered by...
["Naw, we're just a regular (bio)family."]; and...
and supporters assuming that "stepfamilies
aren't all that different than regular (bio)families, so why worry about
identity? A family's just a family, right?"
Well... yes and no. It depends on your
The confusing reality is that on one level,
typical stepfamilies arejust like any other kind of family.
On another level,
they differ structurally and dynamically in over 60 ways.
stepfamily adults don't acknowledge and accept these many differences, they risk unconsciously assuming their stepfamily will feel
like a "regular" (intact biological) family. This is like expecting a camel to
behave like a squirrel because they're both four-legged mammals.
The danger is that co-parents and their
uninformed kin and supporters will unconsciously form biofamily-based
and relationship expectations of
themselves and each other. That promotes their feeling increasingly frustrated,
confused, disappointed, hurt, resentful, and angry. This is speciallylikely if one
or more adults are psychologically
Since I began studying
stepfamilies in 1979, I've found 60 common misconceptions
in average people who feel "a family's just a family." Couples trying to
co-manage a complex multi-home
nuclear stepfamily believing a set of these myths often re/divorce
psychologically or legally.
are like intact biofamilies in specific ways - and that's only half
the picture!They're alike in that both types of family
normal - stepfamilies have been common since
the start of the human Era. They may have been the predominant family
type because of war, disease, and unprotected intercourse until modern
medical and contraceptive advances;
and they both...
are composed of adults and kids who live
together part or all of the time, and their biological and legal relatives (in-laws);
are (usually) managed by adults
who do their
best to guide,
nurture, protect, teach, and prepare their dependent kids to eventually
live well-enough on their own; and...
All members of each kind of family have
daily and developmental
to fill, and a range of daily responsibilities and activities, like work or school, worship,
socializing and play, meals, shopping, chores, and so on; and...
Adults and kids in
stepfamilies and intact biofamilies...
special living things, rituals, ideas, sounds, smells, places, dreams,
and values; and they...
choose or are
forced to break these bonds as the world evolves; and they...
need to help each other
grieve their physical and abstract
Steppeople and biopeople each have
moods, developmental stages, names, role-titles, (brother, niece, uncle,
step-grandmother, half sibling...), and personal and shared hopes, fears,
goals, achievements, dreams and ideals, frustrations, "failures," joys, health concerns, celebrations,
depressions, etc.; and...
They both evolve within
human and geophysical
and interact with each of them as contributors and consumers.
stepfamily member says "Hey - we're just (like) a regular (bio)family!" theyre
their stepfamily also differs in over
structural and dynamic ways! This means that usingbiofamily expectations and norms will
stress average stepfamily
adults, kids, and relationships.
accepting this paradox is vital if adults are to form and use realistic
goals and expectations
as they patiently
their several multi-generational biofamilies over many years.
Lesson-7 article illustrates specific ways in which typical multi-home
stepfamilies are just like "traditional" (intact bio)families. These
ways validate people who claim "a family is just a family (so I don't
need to identify as, or learn about, 'stepfamilies.')"
If step-people and their supporters don't also learn and accept
their major structuralanddevelopmental differences
with intact biofamily systems, they risk escalating stress from using
inappropriate biofamily expectations to govern their
relationships. This will reduce stepfamily nurturance, promote
re/divorce, and pass on the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
cycle to the
+ + +
To better appreciate what you just read, now study...