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video previews what you'll read in this article. It mentions eight
self-improvement lessons in this Web site. I've simplified that to seven.
This is one of a series of Lesson-5 articles
on howtoevolve a
high-nurturance family. In this article,
"relatives," "kin," and "kinfolk" mean all the parents, grandparents,
siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins of each minor and grown child related
by genes and parental commitment. This includes all people related to any pair
of ex mates who have one or more living kids.
"Problem solving" starts by defining who needs what now?
Human problems are unfilled needs. They range from surface
(superficial) needs to underlying primary needs. "Relationship problems" are universal, but your expectations and priorities of genetic and marital relatives will be unique. Typical
relationship problems include...
The primary problems that cause all these surface relationship stressors are
also the same in any family:
ignorance and denial of
- specially of "false self" dominance; and...
unrealistic expectations of self and
others - e.g. role confusions; and...
lack of informed help to reduce
these primary problems.
(a) a divorced parent, (b) you're now in a stepfamily, and/or c) you care
for someone who's "in step," read the following. Otherwise, skip to
Relations among stepfamily kinfolk can be specially stressful because...
Typical stepfamilies are a mix of
three or more multi-generational
biological families with different ethnic backgrounds, values,
rituals, and customs.
Some genetic and legal relatives may not
know - or may deny - that they are a stepfamily. They then mistakenly
use biofamily norms to decide how to treat each other.
Structurally and dynamically, typical
multi-generational stepfamilies differ from
intact biofamilies in up to 60 ways. This means that expectations among
step-relatives are often unrealistic because the adults are unaware of
these differences and what they
One difference is that stepfamilies may have up
15 alien family roles, many of which have no accepted social norms (e.g. what is a "good
step-uncle?"). This promotes confusion and conflicts about (a)
what to call (title) each other, and (b) how to behave with each other.
Some kids and adults may disagree on who is
their stepfamily ("I don't see her ex mate's sister-in-law as a relative
Most stepfamilies follow one or more mates'
divorces. Divorce often results
ancestral unawareness and psychological wounds. This raises the
odds that ex mates and their kinfolk will have some of these
and won't know how to reduce them.
Some members of typical
may never meet each other. However, adults may
feel obligated by tradition and courtesy to include them in family announcements and events like
holidays, graduations, weddings, and births. Conversely, new
stepfamily relatives may expect to be included, and feel resentful at
being ignored or excluded.
Finally, relations among stepfamily kinfolk
can be specially stressful because..
Merging several biofamilies with significantly-different
values, rituals, customs, and
expectations causes complex
loyalty conflicts and relationship
triangles. Typical stepfamily adults
and supporters don't know how to
recognize and resolve these concurrent stressors.
stepfamily relationship problems is:
they occur more often, among more related people;
there are three or more co-parents and six
or more co-grandparents, other relatives, and many young people in an
there are more prior-divorce and
co-parenting problems (e.g. child custody, discipline, visitations,
support, and holidays) than in intact biofamilies;
several biofamilies into a new stepfamily causes new losses for
adults and kids to grieve - perhaps before prior losses are fully
accepted (mourned); and...
ignorance about stepfamily
norms and realities promotes (a) unrealistic expectations of yourself and each other,
and (b) little knowledgeable help locally and in the media.
Bottom Line:relationships among average stepfamily
kinfolk are more
complex, conflictual, and confusing than
those in typical intact biofamilies. There are no social norms
to guide people in resolving these stressors, so each stepfamily
must evolve its own strategies for managing them.
in this Web site offers a wealth of experience-based resources for
stepfamily adults, supporters. and students. Lesson 7 builds on all 6 prior
So what can you do
if you have a significant "problem" with one or more relatives?
These options apply to all families.
There are additional options for stepfamily
relatives at the end of this section.
Assess whetheryou and/or your problem relative are being
controlled by false selves (psychologically wounded). If you are, use
online Lesson 1 to
free your true Self to guide your
personality. This will have
many short and long-term benefits - specially if you're a parent
Clarify your current
to check whether you're giving too much (or too little) importance to this
relationship problem. If you are, suspect that well-meaning false selves are
promoting that. See Lesson 1.
Review this article on resolving
values and loyalty conflicts and relationship triangles. If appropriate, ask
your relative to read and discuss it with you.
Review these Q&A items about
losses and healthy grief. Then
assess your "problem" relative for incomplete grief - specially after a
death or divorce. If you feel s/he isn't done mourning, invite the
person to study
Lesson 3 and these
options, and avoid trying to
rescue her or him.
If you feel that addiction to a substance, activity, mood, or
is part of the problem, see this.
For more perspective and options, see if any of these Lesson-4
articles are relevant.
If you're not interested in stepfamilies, skip to
with Difficult Stepfamily Relatives
In addition to the options above, admit that you
all are a normal multi-home stepfamily, vs. "we're just a regular
(bio)family." If you don't, none of these options will work well for
Check to see that your relative/s accept your
identity. If they minimize or deny that, see these
options. Resistance to accepting your
step-identity usually indicates psychological wounds and ignorance.
Adopt a long-range view, and ask your "problem" relative/s and any
supporters to test their stepfamily knowledge with this
quiz. Then invite them to study at
Lessons 1 thru 7
Review these common stepfamily myths
to see if your expectations of yourself and your relative are realistic.
Using biofamily expectations will cause or amplify your stress.
If you seek
advice on improving your relations with this "problem relative," review
these articles on choosing effective stepfamily
+ + +
Pause and notice what you're thinking and feeling. Did you realize how many
options and resources you have to improve (or accept) your "problem"
relationship? All these options depend on your wanting to make major progress with
online Lessons 1
(free your true Self) and 2
(effective communication) here.
Family relationships are specially important and impactful to typical
kids and adults. This Lesson-5 article outlines common surface
relationship problems among typical kinfolk, and the primary causes of such
problems. Then it proposes specific options for people who have one or more
"problem" relatives. The article includes perspective on, and
resolution-options for, conflicted stepfamily kinfolk