What’s “Normal” for Stepfamilies?

In researching my books Making It as a Stepparent and “What Am I Doing in a Stepfamily?” and, later, as president of the Stepfamily Association of America, I traveled the country, speaking with members of families formed by remarriage. It quickly became clear that many issues faced in these families differ from those that challenge people in once-wed households. Yet they are normal for stepfamilies. For example:

- In the early stages of stepfamily life, relationships are self-conscious. Everybody thinks about who said what to whom, in what tone of voice, and what was really meant.

- Expectations of “instant love” among family members exist, but are unrealistic.

- Shared decision-making may take place among several households.

- Finances can be both a practical and emotional issue—with money coming in (or going out) of the home for child support.

- The decision to have a child of the new union requires much discussion. Husband and wife do not necessarily come to this question from the same place.

The point is, these issues are normal, predictable, and solvable.

With the audience, I discuss ways to make it as a stepfamily.