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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 offers perspective on what you're about to read.
The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this ad-free educational
Web site - I've simplified that to seven.
This article assumes you're familiar with...
intro to this
nonprofit Web site and the
Most people assume that average stepfamilies and intact
biofamilies are "fairly similar."
Both family types
similarities - and also differ
in over 60 ways. Average multi-generational stepfamilies differ more in structure from intact biofamilies than typical adoptive, foster, and same-gender families. Neither family type is
better - they're different.
Family members and supporters
understand how different stepfamilies are to form
traditional (bio)family norms don't apply to typical multi-home stepfamilies!
summarizes 35 biofamily - stepfamily structural (vs. dynamic) differences. They promote
~30 unique family-adjustment tasks that
most biopeople don't face and steppeople aren't prepared for.
Option - before reading further, see how many structural
differences you can name...
The best time to learn these differences and what they
is during courtship.
"Structure" here refers to the
elements that make a family. "Family
dynamics" refers to how these elements interact.
New steppeople need learn and work together at many concurrent
merger tasks to meld and stabilize
their three or more biofamilies
over some years.
In reviewing this summary,
note the individual
differences and the collective impact of allof them on stepfamily
adults and kids. Follow the links for more detail on any difference after
scanning the whole table.
If you're not interested in individual differences, the
point of listing them
all is to document how
different typical stepfamily structures are. This is a
key reason typical biofamily norms and expectations
often don't apply to stepfamily life.
1) Number of
Usually two or more
by legal documents, emotions, finances, genes, ancestry, shared
history, responsibilities, and memories
Usually one nuclear home
2) Children born prior to a single parent choosing a (new) mate
One to four or
more minor and/or
grown kids (his and/or hers)
3) Number of
three or more: you and me, your and/or my ex
mate, and (maybe) their new mate/s
One or two co-parents
4) Number of
One or more(if
a co-parent has kids
with several prior mates), living or dead
Usually none, unless jailed,
traveling extensively, or at war
higher odds of emotional / spiritual deprivations,
neglect) for both mates. If true, this is often denied to
Theory: lower odds of low birth-family nurturance and psychological wounds, unless the family is chronically troubled.
34) Family nurturance level
now - how often adults
and kids get most of their
primary needs met well enough:
lower, because of more people, conflicts, and adjustment
needs, and the complexity of stepfamily
on average, because there are fewer people, conflicts, family-adjustment
needs, tasks, and losses.
professionals' accurate knowledge of basic family norms, traits, realities, stressors, and dynamics
Lower. Most legal, media,
clergy, education, and counseling professionals have no
error: "stepfamilies are pretty much like (intact) biofamilies"
Clergy, doctors, family lawyers and judges, educators, counselors, and their supervisors
are more often trained and experienced in biofamily norms and dynamics
Pause and reflect. What are you thinking and feeling now? Have you ever seen
a comparison like this before? What
did you just learn? Is there someone else you feel should study and discuss these
35 structural differences?
Feedback please - take this
how many of these 35 biofamily - stepfamily differences did you already know?
These structural family differences
cause up to 30 stepfamily-unique adjustment tasks. They are often...
if "the other" ex remarries), and these tasks...
add to "normal" personal, home, and
Typical courting and newly-committed partners
and their supporters aren't
expecting or prepared for these adjustment tasks.
causes significant stress in and between family homes, until co-parents learn "what's
normal" by trial and error, and correct their
This often takes
four or more years
after committing and cohabiting, as co-parents slowly
and stabilize their
several multi-generational biofamilies.
This Lesson-7 article shows you specifically how different
average multi-home stepfamilies are from typical intact biofamilies. These
structural factors are only
half the differences - the others are development tasks and family dynamics. Knowledge and acceptance of all
~60 differences will
help your stepfamily members form realistic role and relationship expectations
and promote long-term success!
+ + +
Next review the ~ 30task differences between
average stepfamilies and intact biofamilies. Then continue working on
7 with your family adults and supporters.