The Web address of this
This is one of a series of lesson-7 articles
on howtoevolve a
high-nurturance stepfamily. The "/" in re/marriage and re/divorce
here notes that it may be a stepparent's first union. "Co-parents" means both
bioparents, or any of the
related stepparents and bioparents co-managing a multi-home
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will
open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
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This brief YouTube clip previews Lesson 7. The video says
there are eight lessons in this Web site: I've reduced that
If you're in a stepfamily, please help improve lesson 7
by taking this brief anonymous
This study guide assumes you're familiar with
this nonprofit Website, (b) the
underlying it, and (c) online self-improvement Lessons
1 thru 6
A major cause of stepfamily stress and divorce is adult
unawareness and ignorance of stepfamily norms and realities.
A high percentage of current stepfamily
information and programs are anecdotal and superficial.
LESSON 7 - evolve a high-nurturance stepfamily
Families exist to nurture
i.e. to fill their members'
basic needs. Depending
on many factors, families (like yours) range from low-nurturance to
divorcing families and stepfamilies are at special
risk of passing on the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
cycle and being vulnerable to these
This lesson uses the ideas in lessons 1-6 to propose how to form and keep
a flourishing re/marriage and an enduring,
Lesson 7 will
empower you to...
understand the many
differences between complex stepfamilies and intact biofamilies,
make wise stepfamily courtship decisions,
form realistic stepfamily expectations,
identify and resolve many
role and relationship problems, and...
achieve a stable,
high-nurturance stepfamily over some years.
This Lesson is best begun in courtship.
It has four parts
1) Learn stepfamily basics
to make wise courtship commitment decisions;
3) Effective co-parenting
basics (stepparenting and bioparenting), and...
How to avoid and solve common stepfamily role and
each assignment after you
complete it to track your progress. Expect to take at least
6-8 weeks to fully understand, discuss, and integrate
the concepts in Lesson 7.
journal or log as you study these assignments to track you reactions and
awarenesses. Your log can provide a source of rich
perspective in the future.
not already in a stepfamily, think of one you know
and keep them in mind as you study. Ask the adults to
comment on what you learn here.
these assignments with a partner or support group
that shares your interest in learning.
1 - Learn Stepfamily Basics
Do these steps in order - they build on each other. Check
off an item "__" as done after you've done any sub-items "_"
Review these common traits
of a high-nurturance family,
_ the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
cycle that burdens many
(step)families, and _ the
five hazards it poses for
typical stepfamily adults.
__ 7-3) Scan
this glossary to
familiarize yourself with key terms and definitions in this
Pause and reflect - how do you fee about all that you
learned in this Part-1 overview of stepfamily basics? How
many typical single parents and new-stepfamily adults would
know what you now know?
2 - Essential Courtship Tasks
A stepfamily begins when a single parent starts to date
a potential new partner seriously. My clinical and personal experience is that typical
needy stepfamily couples make impulsive, uninformed
courtship choices, and later regret them.
Part 2 uses Lessons 1-6 and
Part 1 to help courting partners choose the right people to commit to, for the right reasons, at the
right time. These articles can still be very
useful after committing.
Retake thisquiz on healthy-relationship basics, and re-study
Lesson-4 topics as
__ 7-22) Discussand applythis
overview of making three wise courtship choices
__ 7-23) Study and heed
these 16 common stepfamily-courtship danger
Poll your stepfamily
adults to see who fully accepts (a) your
identity as a multi-home
stepfamily, and (b) what that
If you discover
significant unawareness, ambivalence, or disputes,yellow light!
__ 7-25) Seek agreement among
your stepfamily adults on who belongs to your stepfamily now.
significant ambivalence or disputes,
__ 7-26) Learn the 16 things new stepfamilies need to
and how to master related stressors.
__ 7-27) Invest in
reading and discussing the unique guidebook
Stepfamily Courtship, (Xlibris, 2002). It
integrates all the key idea in this Web site.
__ 7-28) Each of you
partners thoughtfully fill out these worksheets alone,
when you're undistracted and your true Self is
your time with these worksheets, and pay attention to your
thoughts and feelings. They're as instructive
as your answers.
When you're both done, discuss your findings together
honestly. If you each feel confident
you're choosing the right people to commit
to, for the right reasons, at the right time - celebrate
and set the date!
__ 7-31) Use this
framework to help plan your
stepfamily commitment ceremony and honeymoon. They're
usually much more complicated than traditional
Recall: "co-parent" mean any one of the adults providing
significant care for minor stepfamily kids. Part 3 has two
sections: (a) effective co-parenting basics, and (b) special
Effective Stepfamily Co-parenting Basics
Effective childcare is much more complex in
multi-home stepfamilies than in typical intact biofamilies.
There are more kids, more co-parents, more relatives, more
role confusion, fewer social norms, and more concurrent
adjustment tasks to master together.
co-parents (and all kids) are unaware of these complexities,
and don't know how to balance and master them.
36 years' professional research, Part
3 offers clear, practical in formation on
effective ways of managing these stressors IF
family adults have committed to make significant progress on Lessons 1-6 and Parts 1 and 2 above.
Take your time, and do these assignments in order. Ideally,
all the adults in your stepfamily and any professional
supporter will do these together. Do NOT work on this
Part without completing Lessons 1-6 and Parts 1 and 2
above! Also, do NOT expect these Parts to
provide a quick answer to
I encourage you to
read through all these items before starting to do them
- get the big picture! Keep a long-range view, and consider
journaling your thoughts and feelings as you do these steps.
Retake this quiz on
effective-parenting basics, and restudy
Lesson 6 as needed.
__ 7-58) Retake and discuss this
You've studied stepfamily
basics, wise courtship decision, and effective-co-parenting
options. Now sharpen your ability to....
7, Part 4 -
family has conflicts over member roles (responsibilities)
These conflicts are more complex and more frequent in
typical stepfamilies because they have more members,
and fewer social norms to guide them.
The steps in Part 4 use everything you've
learned so far in this Break the Cycle! course.
__ 7-64) Use these
criteria to decide if you
have a pro-grief stepfamily, and _ write down your stepfamily's
__ 7-65) Review how to
analyze andresolve most relationship problems (Lesson 4)
__ 7-66) Use this
menu tolearn options for communicating well with common
Use this menu of common
stepfamily problems to learn effective solution-options.
quiz on stepfamilies to
demonstrate what you've learned here.
+ + +
patiently studied Lessons 1-7, I congratulate you!
You now know more about personalities, relationships,
communication, grieving, families, parenting, and
stepfamilies than most laypeople and family professionals.
Does the claim "most family adults don't know what they
don't know" make more sense to you now?
Do you better
understand my claim that...
there is little informed stepfamily
support available in communities and the media?
many stepfamily adults and most kids feel confused and
overwhelmed at times?
many re/marrying co-parents make uninformed
(unwise) commitment choices?
most printed and online stepfamily information is
superficial? And that...
the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
is spreading silently throughout our culture?
self-improvement lesson uses Lessons 1-6 to help adults (a) create and
maintain a high-nurturance stepfamily, (b) break the
[wounds + unawareness] cycle, and (c) avoid re/divorce. The
lesson breaks this complex subject into four sequential
Essential courtship tasks,
basics (stepparenting and bioparenting), and learn how
Solve common stepfamily role and
The ideas in this
36 years' professional research
on stepfamily dynamics, and personal experience as a
stepson, stepfather, stepbrother, and step-grandson.