Stepfamily Reality #43 - Include Both Bioparents!

      If a family is defined as "people bonded by genetic, legal, and psychological ties," then both bioparents of any stepchild are full members of their stepfamily. Even if their noncustodial Mom or Dad is distant and/or inactive, kids will surely include them in drawing a family map. 

        Wounded, unaware custodial co-parents may want to exclude their (step)kids' other bioparent/s from full stepfamily membership. They minimize or ignore the needs, rights, and opinions of the ex and any new partners and stepkids in making family decisions. This puts their kids in the middle of endless loyalty conflicts they didn't cause, and can't negotiate or control. It also sets up webs of divisive relationship triangles, as step-relatives take sides (or don't). These stressors in-crease barriers to vital co-parenting teamwork, and lower the stepfamily's nurturance level.

       Even if invited "in," stepkids' other bioparents may exclude them-selves from the stepfamily. Co-grandparents and other relatives have their own definitions of stepfamily membership, depending on many factors. Membership exclusions and rejections often occur because adults aren't clear on, minimize, or deny, their identity as a stepfamily.

        Reality: Whether divorced or dead, stepkids' absent bioparents and their new partners and (step)kids, have major psychological, genetic, legal, and usually financial impacts on stepfamily functioning for many years - including the life-quality and nurturance of biological and step-grandkids.