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Becoming a Stepfamily: Patterns of Development in Remarried Families

Stepfamilies face a substantially different set of challenges from first-time families and must travel very different territory in order to forge a successful family life. Proceeding in a stepfamily as if you are forming a first-time family is a little like heading West with a map of Philadelphia--a recipe for disaster. This paper will look at where stepfamilies start and how this is different from first-time families. We will examine the particular challenges created by pre-existing parent-child relationships which include ex-spouses and grandparents. As in any difficult territory, a good map helps. Normal, stages of stepfamily development will be summarized, followed by very specific, research supported ?directions? for what works (and what does not work) in building successful and healthy stepfamily relationships. Do?s and don?ts for parenting across households will be discussed as well as biological parenting versus stepparenting, supporting children, and dealing constructively with ex-spouses and grandparents.

* NOTICE: * Any advice provided here represent the opionions and research of the writer and are for informational purposes only. For guidance relating to your specific needs, contact a professional.
About the Author:

Dr. Patricia Papernow is a highly regarded teacher and lecturer and a psychologist in private practice in Hudson, Massachusetts. She specializes in issues in stepfamilies, remarried couples, and post-divorce parenting. Dr. Papernow is the author of Becoming a Stepfamily: Patterns of Development in Remarried Families (Analytic Press) which was the winner of the Nevis Award for best book in 1993. As well, she has written numerous articles and book chapters in both the academic and lay press on post-divorce parenting and remarried family life. Dr. Papernow is a board member for the National Stepfamily Resource Center.
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