Stepfamily Realities 44 - 50 - Expect the Unexpected

        Since 1981, over 1,000 divorcing-family and stepfamily adults have taught me that typical co-parents (bioparents and stepparents) should expect the unexpected. My clinical case notes are speckled with welcome and traumatic incidents of stepkids and their "other bioparent" making major behavioral or situational changes that significantly impacted all their nuclear-stepfamily members and close relatives.

       Well after a re/wedding , important family events like births; gradua-tions; job, asset, and housing changes; disabilities; adoptions; re/marriages; retirements; and deaths can trigger unexpected reactions in all stepfamily members, including kids' other co-parents and ex in-laws. An ex mate remarrying or co-habiting with a new stepparent will promote complex inter-home adjustments to minor-child visitations, finances, holidays, vacations, co-parental responsibilities, and perhaps child custody.

       The odds of a startling, stressful change in an ex mate's behavior or lifestyle can be minimized by inviting him or her to be a full member of your stepfamily, and working to reduce any teamwork barriers with them. Easy to say, and usually hard to do - specially if s/he doesn't want to be included. If ex-spouses remain hostile or indifferent despite your best at-tempts to include them, appealing to them to try post-divorce counseling for the kids' sake may yield long-term payoffs. self-improvement Lesson 7 is about building stepfamily teamwork.