Are Your Stepkids Strangers to You?
The Impact of Estrangement on Stepfamilies and First Families
BY CLAUDETTE CHENEVERT
I recently spoke with Jennifer, who’s a stepmom with two grown stepdaughters.
“I don’t understand,” Jennifer said. “We call them. We leave messages. They never return our calls. Plus, I have a feeling they’re withholding our grandkids from us. We don’t seem to be able to visit with them. I know the girls were upset that their parents divorced but that was years ago.”
Her sense of estrangement is nothing new.
In December 2017, “The New York Times” ran an article on the topic which notes that estrangement is common in all families. My professional experience backs up the article’s findings. In working with stepmoms, I often learn that—like Jennifer—many feel as if emotional and/ or physical distance has been imposed between them or their partners and their stepchildren.
The good news is that research is finally being done to help us understand the issue better.
When it comes to family life, estrangement doesn’t play favorites. Biological or step, its symptoms and effects are fairly similar.