How can I tell if the
problems we are having are a product of stepfamily dynamics or something else?
tend to produce predictable difficulties in stepfamilies. Many of these
difficulties are simply not seen in a biological family. Others are seen much
less frequently in a biological family. However, stepfamilies can also have
problems that have little or nothing to do with stepfamily dynamics.
Following is a sample
of problems that are likely to appear in a stepfamily, but not in a biological
Conflict with a prior spouse (usually "his" prior spouse)
Conflict regarding the discipline of each other's kids
biological parent acts like a "mama bear" when the stepparent tries to
discipline her kids
are disrespectful /disobedient/impolite towards the stepparent
Unclear about your role and what you have to do to be successful in it
Unsettled issues regarding names, titles, etc. (e.g., how to address the
Differences of opinions regarding who does/doesn't belong in the family
seems like two different families are living in the same house
Couple appears to have few or no problems when the kids are not around
spouse frequently disrupts your schedule and plans for your stepfamily--often
at the last minute
parenting -- the absence of a viable structure and workable rules for
Recurrent confusion and moodiness at the start and end of each "visit"
Feeling like an "outsider"
Feeling unacknowledged and unappreciated for all the things you do for your
Feeling jealous of your partner's child(ren)
Feeling responsible for kids over whom you have no authority
Feeling caught in the middle -- usually between your kids and your new partner
Feeling your partner is profoundly unfair towards your kids
Feeling that you are failing again -- so it must be your fault
more concerns such as these are present in your stepfamily, the more helpful a
course such as
Building Stepfamilies That Work
is likely to be for you and your stepfamily.
I hope that helps.
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