More Stepfamily Facts

2001 Bill Nodrick Ph.D. and Bev Nodrick RSW  


  • Stepfamilies can be healthy, loving and exceptionally stable living environments.

  • Early stepfamily life is stressful for everyone. This is particularly true a) for the first two years a stepfamily is together, and  b) for women in the stepmother role if they have never had children of their own. (If you are a stepmom without kids of your own, click here to learn more.)

  • Most of the difficulties that stepfamilies face are a product of the stepfamily situation, not the people involved.

  • Unlike the biological family, stepfamilies are built upon loss. [Disagree with this? If you do, Dr. Bray might see you as a member of a "Romantic" stepfamily. Click here to learn more about Dr. Bray's research on stepfamily types.]

  • Stepfamilies are much more complex than biological families, and have very different dynamics than biological families.

  • Stepfamilies follow a predictable developmental course that differs importantly from the developmental course followed by biological families. Click here to learn more about the developmental stages of the stepfamily.

  • Stepfamilies must accomplish four critical developmental tasks*:

    1)     building a strong couple bond,

    2)     incorporating the stepparent into the lives and management of the stepchildren,

    3)     effectively managing relationships with the former spouse(s), nonresidential parent(s), and extended family members, and

    4)     acquiring the skills necessary to address problems and manage change.

    All of the strategies, tools and techniques necessary to accomplish these essential tasks are detailed here.

           Stepfamily success can be yours*:

    a)     if you and your partner commit to working as a team,

    b)     the two of you learn about stepfamily dynamics, and

    c)     as a couple, you put what you learn into action.


* These tasks are addressed in detail in Building Stepfamilies That Work.

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Stepfamily Foundation of Alberta