Step-Families

by Sally Connolly, LMFT and John E. Turner, LMFT




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Step-families come together when two people marry or commit and one of both of them have children from another relationship. Some call these “blended families”; however, that is often inaccurate as some families never truly “blend”, they just learn ways to get along with each other respectfully.

Step-families come together because the adults fall in love with each other, but it is not a choice for the other family members which, in itself, may cause dilemmas. The adults who fall in love expect others to embrace this new step-family lovingly and may be discouraged, frustrated, even angry when that does not happen. Children, if their other parent is still alive, may continue to harbor wishes that their parents will get back together and this new marriage may cause another round of feelings of grief and loss.

Parents and other family members of the new step-family may still have a connection to former spouses, may disapprove of their child’s choices and changes and may have difficulty in welcoming the new member into the family.

In step-families there are also “insider” and “outsider” positions. Finding ways to navigate this new terrain requires skill, patience, kindness and grit. Step-families often have questions about time as a nuclear family vs. time with the step-family, how to handle issues of authority and discipline and how to handle differences with the “other” family. We will address some of these ideas with a beginning discussion … and invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with us through the blog.