Key traits of a high-nurturance
family, agency, church, or school: all members and one or more
informed, objective observers, agree that...
is/are obviously (vs. covertly) in charge, and is/are clearly
wholistically-healthy per criteria like those above; and...
now has many or most of these traits, or
the family leaders are clearly self-motivated to develop and stabilize these
traits over time; and...
Most of the
many dyadic (two-person)
that comprise this family system are nurturing enough, per criteria like the
Most or all of
the households that comprise this family are structurally healthy per this
framework or equivalent; or the family leaders are
self-motivated (vs. court-ordered) to work together to restructure their
roles and relationships; and in a high-nurturance family...
and observers agree that there is a consistently high level of balance
in and between the households that comprise the family, over time, and...
spontaneously demonstrate that their
are met well enough, often enough. One way to
check this is to decide if all family members have most of these
high-nurturance group traits most of the time.
How does this compare to your definition of a high-nurturance
(functional, healthy) family? How well has your definition "worked," so
far? Could your childhood caregivers have
articulated such a definition? Did they live by it? Would your kids
(if any) say you have?
that these six criteria can
assess the nurturance-level of any type of family: intact or separated
childless, foster, adoptive, same-gender, bi-racial, communal, and step.
Now let's use apply the three definitions above to answer this:
Is a High-nurturance Stepfamily?
In understanding the following and translating it into your own
criteria, you'll need a clear definition of who comprises a
(multi-generational) stepfamily. Check
your own definition against those links, and return. Your belief will define who
you see to be your client or
Combinations of factors
of stepfamily. Co-parents in each type must fill a unique blend of
adjustment needs as they
three or more biofamilies over
time. Nonetheless, there are high-nurturance factors and
traits that apply to all types of stepfamilies.
Premise: a multi-generational
(low > high) can change over time - i.e. the
level can differ between courtship > co-habiting <> newly re/married > mature
(merged and stabilized).
Typical stepfamily co-parents, relatives, kids, and supporters must
negotiate up to five significant
together, over time. In high-nurturance stepfamilies, the adults (a)
genuinely accept their
as a stepfamily, and what that
to their members; and (b) they can name and accurately describe the
hazards they face and what to
about each of them.
As they merge and stabilize three or
more co-parents' biofamilies, typical stepfamily co-parents have up to 30 unique
adjustment-needs (tasks) and up to 15 alien new
clarify and stabilize concurrently, which people in other family
types don't have. And...
Typical minor stepkids
need informed adult guidance to fill normal developmental
needs and up to three sets of
Kids in high-nurturance, intact biofamilies can develop without the major confusion
and distraction of family reorganization/s from (a) divorce or death, and
(b) parental re/marriage and stressful biofamily mergers. And...
Stepfamily co-parenting environments
can differ concurrently in up to 40 specific ways
from typical intact-biofamily environments, depending on many factors.
a gross level, the criteria for a high-nurturance stepfamily are
the same as for any other family type. So
we might realistically say a high-nurturance nuclear stepfamily...
has all six "universal" criteria
above, or equivalent; and...
each of the
two or more co-parents can now accurately (a) name and (b) describe these
stress and re/divorce, and these
or (b) each courting co-parent and each of their kids' other co-parents is genuinely
self-motivated to learn these hazards and safeguards now; and...
If the stepfamily isn't legally re/married yet,
partner wants to learn about
(a) stepfamily basics and (b) making three
right re/marital choices by doing
the self-study Lessons before deciding whe-ther to re/marry; and/or ...
If one or more co-parent couples in the stepfamily is already re/married,
then each spouse has clearly committed to the right
at the right
as judged by themselves and an
wholistically-healthy observer; and...
patiently together on Projects 1-6 and 8-12; and...
kids and adults
in the multi-generational stepfamily have most of these strengths, as judged by
(a) the family members and (b) one or
more stepfamily-informed, wholistically healthy, objective observers who
know the stepfamily "well enough."
Do these high-nurturance-stepfamily criteria (a) make sense and (b) seem
credible to you? How many typical American co-parents and lay and
professional supporters do you suppose could describe what you're reading in
this article? Does the premise that most divorced and stepfamily co-parents
are unaware and lack informed support seem more believable
your versions of the four definitions above to define a "healthy, high-nurturance
("functional") divorcing family or stepfamily." Human-service professionals who
evolve a clear, thoughtful definition are more likely to have successful
long-term outcomes with
average divorced-family and stepfamily clients.
Some links above lead to worksheets designed for clients to use.
Experiment and incorpor-ate those you feel are useful into your assessments and
worksheet is part of one of these
so awareness of the
Lesson's goal/s and steps can
help you decide if, how, and when to use the worksheets.
Consider using these four
as part of an in-service training program for professional
and paraprofessional students.
your version of these definitions to help communicate goals
and negotiate responsibilities effectively with professional co-workers and
colleagues, administrators, funders, and/or program
definitions like these to
help form personal, program, and/or organizational
statements. Variation: pass out and discuss copies of
this and linked articles with your co-workers, and in/formally weave the results into your collaborative work
As your experience with divorced-family and stepfamily clients grows,
review your version of these definitions
periodically to keep them clear and realistic.
Distill key ideas in this article into a
simpler format and use that with clients and/or selected peers
and supporters to improve mutual clarity and discussions. A related
option is to summarize definitions of some or all of these
lay and clinical
terms in a handout or an instructive quiz for clients and trainees.
- these four definitions have evolved over 40 years' didactic study and
professional and personal experience. The latter includes living in two
stepfamilies, and 29 years'
my severe false-self
definitions (and the rest of this site) come from my synthesis of the wisdom
and experience of hundreds
of lay and professional teachers!
offers definitions of (a) individual wholistic
high-nurturance (b) relationships, (c) families, and (d) stepfamilies.
Human-service professionals and clients who share clear definitions of key
terms and concepts like these are much more apt to fill their primary needs
together and achieve cost-effective,
Partners form relationships to fill a dynamic mix of mutual
primary needs. Nurturance
means "need filling." Assessing personal wholistic health and a
relationship's or group's
nurturance-level must be subjective.
In a family-service context, there are two sets of
subjective opinions: the client family members,' and the service-provider's. A
universally-useful intervention is motivating client co-parents to want to assess
their wholistic healths, relationships, and family nurturance-level over time, for their ongoing child,
personal, and re/marital health and welfare.
Doing this tends to break the
false-self wounds and ignorance, and reduce the immeasurable anguish, distraction, and expense they
cause us all.