Lesson 7 of 7 - evolve a high-nurturance stepfamily

A Quiz About Stepfamilies

Discover What You
 Need to Learn

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this quiz is http://sfhelp.org/sf/quiz7.htm

Updated 06/05/2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

If you're in a stepfamily, please help me improve Lesson 7
by taking this brief anonymous survey.

      This is one of a series of Lesson-7 articles on how to evolve a high-nurturance stepfamily. These articles augment, vs. replace, other qualified professional help. 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 nuclear stepfamily

      This quiz assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this nonprofit site and the premises underlying it 

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 thru 6 here

  • this example of a real stepfamily

  • the terms used in this Web site

  Why Take This Quiz?

      From 36 years' experience as a family-systems therapist, I propose that one of five reasons for stepfamily stress and (re)divorce is lay and professional unawareness of key personal, relationship, and family topics.

      This quiz offers a way for you to assess how much you know about stepfamilies, and to link you with practical answers you can tailor fit to your unique needs. "Scoring" here is less important than your motivation to learn, and how you use your stepfamily knowledge...

      To set the stage, view this 2-part video on stepfamilies. The video mentions eight lessons in this self-improvement Web site - I've reduced that to seven.

   Prepare to Learn

Print this quiz and have something to write with. You'll need some blank paper to note some answers

Find a quiet place and reserve at least 45-60" to respond to these items;

Adopt the curiosity and open mind of a student, and expect to learn useful things from this experience;

Check to see if your true Self guides your other personality subselves now. If not, try to free your Self to lead, or expect skewed results from this quiz. See Lesson 1.

For fun, guess which of these you'll feel when you finish this quiz:

_  I knew nothing about stepfamilies

_  I knew less than I thought I did

_  I knew about what I thought I did

_  I knew more than I realized

_  I know all I need to know about stepfamilies now.

As you answer these items, reflect on how other family adults and supporters would respond to _ each item and _ taking this quiz.

Check an item only if you can confidently check each sub-item. To avoid distraction, Don't follow any underlined links until you've finished the quiz. Then go back and research each unchecked item. Take your time - this is like a college course!


  • try answering these items out loud to someone you trust, or to an imaginary group of high-school seniors. Otherwise, write your answers on a separate piece of paper. 

  • Avoid vague generalities ("stepfamilies are just more stressful...") and be as specific as you can ["...because they (name explicit reasons)."]

  • Identify _ an intact biofamily and _ an existing stepfamily you know, and think of them with each item below.

  • Journal your reactions to taking this quiz as you go, or soon after finishing. Your thoughts and feelings are as important as the answers!

  • Complete online Lessons 1 thru 7, and retake this quiz to validate how much you've learned! 


      __  This stepfamily quiz builds on your ability to "pass"... 

_  this quiz about personalities and psychological wounds (Lesson 1); and...

_  this quiz about bonding, losses, and grieving (Lesson 3); and...

this quiz about healthy relationships (Lesson 4): and...

_  this quiz about families (Lesson 5), and...

_  this quiz about effective parenting (Lesson 6).

      __  Describe...

_  the terms family structure and family system;

_  what a " ''family nurturance level'' is,

_ what a stepfamily is,

_ what a "blended family" is,

_ what a stepparent is,

_ who comprises a "nuclear stepfamily"  and an "extended stepfamily",

_ the term stepfamily identity, and...

_ the moment in time when a typical stepfamily "begins."

      __ Name five reasons why typical U.S. stepfamilies experience significant stresses, are significantly low-nurturance systems, and often re/divorce psychologically or legally.

Test Your Stepfamily Knowledge

__ 1)  Describe...

_ the key phases of a typical stepfamily's developmental cycle,

_ the three possible outcomes of the cycle, and...

_ which outcome is most common in America recently,

__ 2)  Define...

 _ family roles,

 _ family role titles,

_ role conflicts and _ role strain, and

_ at least 10 of the ~15 family roles that typical new stepfamily members must negotiate and agree on.

__ 3)  Describe _ a (step)family mission statement, and _ why stepfamily co-parents making and using one is usually more important than in intact biofamilies.

__ 4)  Name _ at least 20 of the ~60 common myths that lay people and many professionals believe about stepfamilies, and _ what their corresponding realities usually are.

__ 5)  Describe why adults ignoring or minimizing their stepfamily-identity may promote escalating  stress in and between their co-parenting homes.

__ 6)  Name at least three signs that an adult or child has really accepted their stepfamily identity.

__ 7)  Describe _ what "family membership" means, and _ the specific risks of excluding a stepchild's "other (bio)parent" from full stepfamily membership.

__ 8)  Explain why _ it's highly unlikely that typical stepfamily members will ever meet people in a similarly-structured stepfamily, and _ what this usually means to them.

__ 9)  Name at least six ways that typical stepfamilies are just like average intact biofamilies.

__ 10)  Name at least 15 of the ~35 ways average stepfamilies differ structurally from intact biofamilies;

__ 11)  Identify at least 10 of the 16 categories of things average stepfamily adults and kids must begin merging when two co-parents commit to each other and/or cohabit during serious courtship.

__ 12)  Name at least 15 of the ~30 adjustment tasks that typical new-stepfamily adults must complete, starting in serious courtship.

__ 13)  Name three primary sources of most stepfamily problems;

__ 14)  Describe at least three benefits of belonging to a high-nurturance stepfamily compared to an intact or divorcing biofamily.

Stepfamily Courtship

__ 15)  Describe _ three phases of a typical divorce, and _ why it can take up to 15 or more years for some adults and kids to fully adjust to personal and family reorganization from divorce.

__ 16)  Name at least 10 common losses that adults and kid must grieve from _ biofamily divorce and _ from a bioparent's choosing a new partner and cohabiting with them.

__ 17)  Name at least six ways stepfamily courtship differs from traditional dating between two never-married partners.

__ 18)   Name at least eight traits of the right partner to re/commit to. The "/" notes that it may be a stepparent's first union.

__ 19)   Name at least five of the right reasons to re/commit and form or join a stepfamily.

__ 20)   Name at least eight indicators it's the right time to re/commit and form or join a stepfamily.

__ 21)  Name at least six stepfamily-courtship danger signs.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - what are you thinking and feeling, so far? Do you need a break before finishing the quiz?


__ 22)  Name the three or four sets of adjustment needs that typical minor and grown stepkids must fill over time with informed adult help;

__ 23)  _ Define effective co-parenting, and _ describe at least 20 of the~ 40 common environmental differences between "stepparenting" and "traditional bioparenting."

__ 24)  Describe _ a co-parent job description and _ why co-parents negotiating and using them is more important in typical stepfamilies than in intact biofamilies.

__ 25)  Describe specific examples of...

_ a values (priority) conflict,

_ a loyalty conflict, and...

_ a relationship triangle, and then...

      ...explain _ why each of these stress typical divorcing-family and stepfamily adults and kids, and _ how co-parents can resolve each of them effectively.

__ 26)  Explain the paradox that bioparents wanting to rank their dependent kids' needs third in typical stepfamily conflicts really puts the kids first, over time.

__ 27)  Describe _ at least five of the nine typical barriers to co-parenting cooperation between ex mates, stepparents, and key relatives; and _ what these adults must do to reduce these barriers for their kids' sakes.

__ 28)  Describe at least four of the requisites for an effective parenting agreement between divorcing bioparents.

__ 29)  Describe _ what a "successful child visitation" is, and _ at least five reasons why they're hard to achieve in many divorcing families and stepfamilies.

__ 30)  Define _ effective child discipline, and _ at least 10 differences between intact-biofamily discipline and child discipline in typical stepfamilies.

__ 31)  Describe why divorcing parents' resorting to legal force to "win" disputes over child support, visitation, or custody is always a lose-lose-lose choice long term.

__ 32)  Describe _ at least three things that stress typical co-grandparents in a stepfamily, and _ key options for reducing each of them.

Stepfamily Support

__ 33)  _ Define "effective stepfamily support," and _ explain three reasons why most stepfamily adults don't seek or use it appropriately.

__34)  Describe how to choose an effective stepfamily counselor or therapist.

__ 35)  Describe key criteria for evaluating written and verbal stepfamily advice.

__ 36)  Describe how to judge whether stepfamily books or Web sites are useful or not.

      Premise - informed or qualified stepfamily supporters know most of these items. If you have used, or are using, professional help for your stepfamily (counselors, therapists, attorneys, mediators, clergy, and/or coaches), how would they do on this quiz? How would each of your relatives do? Your stepkids' other bioparent/s?

      Compare how you feel now to what you thought before taking this quiz...

_  I knew nothing about stepfamilies

_  I knew less than I thought I did

_  I knew about what I thought I did

_  I know more than I realized

_  I know all I need to know about stepfamilies now.

      Do you better understand my proposal that most (step)family adults and supporters "don't know what they don't know"? Their unawareness and psychological wounds promote these common stressors and potential (re)divorce.

      If you patiently study Lessons 1 thru 7 here, you should be able to answer these quiz items. Then you're really read to grow and enjoy high-nurturance stepfamily relationships IF your co-parents' true Selves are free to guide you each! You're also ready to protect your descendents from inheriting the lethal [wounds+ unawareness] cycle.

 Now What?

      Consider options like these:

If you skipped some links, go back and follow any of interest when you're undistracted.

If you want to ask other people to take and discuss this quiz, (a) who are they, and (b) why do you want them to do this?

On a scale of 1 (little motivation) to 10 (highly motivated), how motivated are you now to spend significant time studying the answers to these quiz items? ___ Doing this with one or more people (like your mate) can be more interesting, and probably more productive!

If you're (ever) in a co-parent support group, consider using these quizzes as a framework for weekly discussion topics and "homework." See this for more options.

If you haven't yet, scan these Questions Co-parents Should Ask. They summarize and link to specific answers to most of the items in these quizzes.

Study these useful terms and phrases about families and relationships, teach them to others, and use them to improve your thinking and communication clarity and outcomes.

Use the quiz items above as a framework for educating your children and relatives about your stepfamily. They don't know what they need to know, and probably have confusions and misconceptions they can't articulate.

Give a copy of this quiz to your kids' teachers, school counselors, and coaches. They probably have many stepkids in their classrooms and offices and maybe in their homes.

If you're a human-service professional, see this article. If you're a media professional see this one.

      If protective false selves dominate your personality, you'll probably minimize or ignore your quiz results and these options, or postpone acting on them - and justify or rationalize this as "OK."


      The purpose of this quiz is to alert stepfamily members and interested others to the vital need for education. Inability to answer these questions is part of the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle that promotes most personal and social problems.

      Online Lesson 7 here provides accurate information to help answer these quiz items, based on my experience as stepgrandson, stepson, stepfather, and stepbrother; and 36 years' as a family-systems therapist.

      Now meditate on these:

  • Right now I feel....

  • and I'm aware of...

  • and something I want to do now is...

      Pause, breathe, and recall why you took this quiz. Did you get what you needed? If not - what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your wise resident true Self (capital "S") or ''someone else''?

 This quiz  was very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful   

 Keep studying and discussing Lesson 7!

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