Why Stepfamilies Are Different – Inside the August 2015 Issue

Stepfamilies Are Unique
Inside the August 2015 Issue

Embrace Your Differences: 5 Factors That Make Stepfamilies Unique by Brenda Snyder, LCSW

A family is a family is a family. Two adults. Some kids. Does it really matter so much how and when the family was formed? Or that not all of the people in that family are blood related? You look like a family. You act like a family. Love conquers all.

The same rules ought to apply, right? Rarely do women who are not stepmothers understand just how wrong these assumptions are. They try to be supportive, but they just don’t get it.

Stepfamilies are different.

And it’s time to embrace those differences. At least five factors make stepfamilies unique. Each one is outlined below in the hopes of making the unique challenges we face easier to understand and overcome.

Factor #1: In traditional families, the kids often form their own alliance while their parents align with one another. And that’s about it. The subsets of people who comprise a stepfamily make everything more complicated.

Some of the simplest of stepfamily structures consist of one set of biological siblings who traverse two different households—yours and that of their other parent. That set of kids is a subset of the family, in that they are the only ones with the unique experience of belonging to two households.

You and your husband, or partner, form another subset. It’s one that you have created either with or without the support of his kids. Your husband and his kids form yet another group. It’s one that doesn’t include you.

If you’re counting, that’s two groups that exclude the stepmom—something most of us feel quite keenly. …To read the rest of this article, log in to your account and download the August 2015 issue. Don’t have an account? Click here to subscribe.


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