Stepfamily Facts

© 2001 Dr. 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 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.  

·       Like it or not, your stepfamily includes all of the people that you, your spouse, your children, and your spouse’s children regard as being part of their family.

·       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.

·       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--a course provided by the Stepfamily Foundation of Alberta.