What are your immediate reactions to the word step family?

What are your immediate reactions to the word step family? What narrative about stepfamilies are you familiar with? How do you define culture and how does the culture of a step family differ from biological family culture?

Complete your reflection in 2-3 pages, APA formatting with title page, and abstract in addition to the 2-3 pages of text reflection.

My personal information:

Save your time - order a paper!

Get your paper written from scratch within the tight deadline. Our service is a reliable solution to all your troubles. Place an order on any task and we will take care of it. You won’t have to worry about the quality and deadlines

Order Paper Now

My name is Yazmillie Fuentes and I was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico and raised in a small town named Cayey. I lived with my mother, maternal grandmother, brother, cousins and aunt. Although my mother divorced my dad when I was 1 year old, her accomplishment in becoming a business woman became my inspiration. Juggling between furthering my career, my wonderful four children and grandson has been my pride. However, it has also been a challenge that I have been trying to overcome, In spite of that, I know that I have the drive and ambition to keep moving forward. Being determined and setting goals for my future has always been a part of my personal experience. The field of Psychology caught my attention when I was in high school and I had taken an elective class in the tenth grade. I instantly felt the passion and I knew that this would someday be my career.  I had my first son when I was sixteen-years old, and my second when I was seventeen-years-old. I worked a full-time job while also attending college. With the help of my marvelous mother and cousin, I was able to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Within four years I received my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and in 2007, I graduated from the University of Turabo in Puerto Rico. I made the decision to move to Florida in 2007, to provide a better life for myself and my children. I prevailed through the hardships of the language

Copyright Information (bibliographic)

Document Type: Book Chapter

Title of book: Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm

Author of book: Joshua M. Gold

Chapter Title: Chapter 1 Introduction: What We Know About Stepfamilies

Author of Chapter: Joshua M. Gold

Year: 2016

Publisher: American Counseling Association

Place of Publishing: United States of America

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of fair use that user may be liable for copyright infringement.



Introduction: What We Know About Stepfamilies

Stepfamily constellations represent a growing societal trend (Lewis & Kre­ ider, 2015; McGoldrick & Carter, 2011), and clinicians are almost guaranteed to work with stepfamily dynamics during the course of their careers. This book will draw on what is known about African American, Latino, gay, and lesbian stepfamilies in order to explore issues of cultural diversity within this specific context.

Two terms are used to describe the family constellation and its attendant dynamics that are the focus of this book. To my mind, stepfamily refers to a family system in which one of the spouses has previous children, and blended family denotes families in which both spouses have children from prior unions. In both instance, the number of external prior and evolving relationships remain the same. Within the family unit, the term stepchild is used to distinguish the child to whom one spouse is not the biological parent, while the generic term child refers to a spouse’s biological offspring.

This chapter will provide demographic data on stepfamilies in the United States, followed by a description of common social myths about stepfamilies and comments from stepfamily members about their lives. Each dominant social myth is deconstructed to illustrate that applica­ tion of narrative therapy to these popular notions regarding stepfamily life. Subsequent chapters explore myths about specific roles within the stepfamily system.

Stepfamily Demographic Data A stepfamily is defined as a household in which two adults are in a commit­ ted couple relationship and where at least one of the adults has a child or




Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm

children from a previous relationship. Those children may be in residence, be jointly parented, or have reached an age of majority and left the family home. An estimated 9,100 new American stepfamilies are created each week. Fifty percent of all Americans have a step connection (Stewart, 2007). It is predicted that the stepfamily constellation will be the most common family form in the United States by 2020 (Visher & Visher, 2003).

The actual demographic data on stepfamilies seems more difficult to discern. Standard reporting systems, such as the U.S. Census, tend to underestimate the numbers of stepfamilies, because of either the lack of an agreed upon definition of what actually constitutes a stepfamily or budgetary constraints, resulting in the absence of marriage, divorce, and stepfamily reporting. Data collection may be confounded by living arrange­ ments that do not include formal marriage and multi-household families in which children move between two or more households (Crosbie-Burnett et al., 2005; Deal, 2014; Lewis & Kreider, 2015; Pew Research Center, 2011). Data collection that allows for such variation will provide researchers and clinicians with more accurate numbers of stepfamilies.

The emergence of stepfamilies in ever-growing numbers challenges family counselors to replace the “nuclear family” norm with more current exemplars of family dynamics relevant to, and stemming from, the step­ family experience (Felker, Fromme, Arnaut, & Stoll, 2002; Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2002; Gosselin & David, 2007). Stepfamilies have always formed part of the family constellation of society; however, the recent growth of divorce rates and subsequent remarriages have expanded their numbers (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2002; Inhinger-Tallman & Cooney, 2005). Four recent U.S. presidents (Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford) were members of stepfamilies.

An initial examination of the data describing the context of family diversity will serve to substantiate the numbers and growth of step­ families in America. Carter and McGoldrick (2005b) claimed that “more than 1h of Americans today have been, are now or will eventually be in one or more stepfamilies during their lives” (p. 417). According to Pew Research Center (2011) data and Lewis and Kreider (2015), more than 40% of adults have at least one steprelative in their family. While initially stepfamilies were formed when widows or widowers remarried, more recently divorced adults are remarrying and forming stepfamilies. In 2002, 55% of first marriages ended in divorce (Gately, Pike, & Murphy, 2006); more recent data lower that figure to about 50% if both legal di­ vorces and long-term separations are combined (Stanley, 2015), and a majority of those adults (65% of women and 70% of men) will remarry (Portrie & Hill, 2005; Wilkes & Fromme, 2002). Usually women remarry within 3-5 years and men remarry within 1-2 years of the dissolution of the previous relationship (Gately et al., 2006), and either one or both partners most often bring children to the new union (Mahoney, 2006). The result is that 33% of all Americans are in stepfamily relationships (Malia, 2005), including an estimated 10 million stepchildren under the age of 18 (Wilkes & Fromme, 2002).





Some demographic statistics are relevant to understanding the stepfam­ ily numbers. Unless otherwise noted, the data are from the U.S. Census Bureau (2007), the most recent data available.

• About 35 million Americans in the U.S. are remarried. • An additional 36 million Americans are divorced or widowed (pos­

sibly finding themselves in a remarriage at some point). • About 46% of all marriages today are a remarriage for one or both

partners, and about 65% of remarriages involve children from the prior marriage and, thus, form stepfamilies.

• Approximately one third of all weddings in America today form stepfamilies (Deal, 2014).

• The divorce rate for remarried and stepfamily couples varies but is at least 60% (Falke & Larson, 2007).

• Second marriages (with or without children) have a 60% rate of divorce, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006); at least two thirds of stepfamily couples divorce and divorce occurs more quickly in stepfamilies than first marriages (Halford et al., 2007; Michaels, 2006)

• An estimated one third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18 (Parker, 2007), and 50% will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime (Deal, 2014; Stewart, 2007).

• An estimated 40% of women will live in a married or cohabiting stepfamily home at some point (Stewart, 2007).

These facts reveal the growing prevalence of stepfamilies in society as a whole (Lewis & Kreider, 2015).

Issues of Cultural Diversity and Stepfamily Demographics

As stated in the Preface, this book will discuss four culturally distinct groups of stepfamilies for which there is some research: Latino, African American, gay, and lesbian stepfamilies. (In this section only, gay and lesbian stepfamilies’ demographic data are reported together.) All of these groups are underes­ timated and underreported in the literature (Pew Research Center, 2011).

Latinos currently made up 12.5% of the total U.S. population, and that percentage will grow to 24.4% by 2050 (Reck, Bigginbotham, Skogrand, & Davis, 2012). It has been reported that 16% of Latino children are members of stepfamilies (Inhinger-Tallman & Cooney, 2005). Plunkett, Williams, Schock, and Sands (2007) identified Latino stepfamilies as the fastest grow­ ing family structure within the Latino population (p. 5). In addition, 38% of women between the ages of 18 and 36 gave birth while they were unmar­ ried, and they tend to view the current family system as a first marriage rather than as a stepfamily because there was no marriage to the father of the child/ren. In addition, divorce rates among Latinos mirror those rates of Caucasians, with a 52% divorce rate; 44% remarry within 4 years. In




Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm

this population, repartnering seems more prevalent than does remarriage, removing these repartnered stepfamilies from any current categories used by formal census data collecting agencies.

Stewart (2007) decried “the few studies on racial and ethnic diversity” (p. 20), and Carey (2009) claimed that”an exhaustive review revealed an absence of the African American family in stepfamily research” (p. 2); a 2015 search of the literature suggests that nothing has been published in this area since Carey’s 2009 review. Among African American families, confusion regarding the number of stepfamilies is based on the incidences of nonmarital births and the number of cohabiting couples. Cutrona, Russell, Burzette, Wesner, and Bryant (2011) determined that 54% of cohabiting couples had residential children. However, cohabiting arrangements or common-law marriages are not counted as family units. Adler-Baeder, Russell, et al. (2010) found that, in 2006, 70.7% of children born to African American mothers were nonmarital births, so marriage would actually be a first marriage rather than remarriage. This practice then further confounds accurate definitions of stepfamilies among this group and raises questions about the accuracy of data collection.

Gay and lesbian stepfamilies are “virtually ignored in stepfamily research” (Lynch, 2000, p. 82) and are “absent from most estimates of stepfamilies” (Stewart, 2007, p. 20). However, as Fredriksen-Goldsen and Erera (2003) noted, “significant numbers of gay and lesbian families have claimed the rights to raise children and live as a family” (p. 172). Lacking “hard” data, Crosbie-Burnett et al. (2005) estimated that gay and lesbian families account for 30% of households in the United States with children under 18, numbering between 2 and 8 million, and that gay and lesbian couples are raising 3-14 million children, a number which may increase based on the dissolution rates of gay and lesbian relationships and on the greater numbers of gay and lesbian individuals having children. Claxton-Oldfield and O’Neil (2007) reported that 22% of households headed by lesbians had residential children, compared to 5% of gay couples. Stewart (2007) estimated that 1 out of 9 cohabiting couples is same-sex; in the 2000 U.S. Census Bu­ reau data, 33% of female same-sex households and 22% of male same-sex households include children. It is not known whether families where the child/ren predate the current relationship or whether the child/ren are a product of the current relationship would be categorized as a “stepfamily.”

The number of stepfamilies is expected to exceed the number of nuclear families in the United States in the near future (Felker et al., 2002). The U.S. Census Bureau figures published in 2000 are said to have underestimated the actual number of stepchildren; only one “householder” is identified for census purposes, and the children could be those of the spouse but are not counted, as those children may not be the biological children of the identified head of household. Therefore, while official censuses can­ not enumerate accurately the numbers of stepfamilies either in total or by specified culturally diverse groups, their numbers cannot be ignored (Michaels, 2006). Consequently, it is critical for family-focused mental health professionals to separate dominant social myths from reality where stepfamilies are concerned.





Myths About Stepfamilies

Portrayals of stepfamilies in popular television shows such as the Brady Bunch and Eight is Enough of stepmothers in fairy tales such as Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and of either overly strict or abusive stepfathers influence both the family members and mental health profes­ sionals into distinctly biased views of stepfamilies (Jones, 2003). A basis for building a strong stepfamily is an understanding of its realities as well as a debunking of its myths and honoring its strengths. Understanding the myths and realities helps stepfamily members, and mental health profes­ sionals, appreciate what is normal as a stepfamily develops, leading to more reasonable expectations for family life.

Five of the most common myths about stepfamilies are described in the sections that follow (Jones, 2003).

Myth #l: Stepfamily Blending Happens Quickly

There is a conception that the proximity of two previously unconnected family systems will manifest itself into instantaneous affection and become an instant family, much like those affections portrayed on popular televi­ sion, with the concurrent belief that the absence of such a transformation indicates pending failure for the new stepfamily. Given the incomplete institutionalization of stepfamily blending (Cherlin, 1978), caricatures found in popular media often suffice as actual exemplars. This dominant narrative also implies that the transition ought to be easily accomplished, with no relational setbacks along the way; disagreement on how to be a “stepfamily” or conflict as roles are negotiated and settled implies a weakness in the system or the poor selection of a partnerI new stepparent. The expectations that transition should be seamless sets couples up with unreasonable expectations.

Myth #2: A Stepfamily Is the Same as a First Marriage Family

An uninformed observer might believe that all families with two adults and one or more children are comparable and that the current marriage must represent the initial marriage for each partner, obviating postdivorce or marital dissolution tensions, relations with ex-spouses, or the complexity of coparenting. This belief is based on several assumptions: that the marital relationship is the priority, that parents have equal authority, that the marital relationship has had time to solidify prior to the arrival of children, that the parents share an equal history with each child, and that no other affective ties exist between children and other parental figures. These assumptions vastly overlook the complexity of stepfamily dynamics.

Myth #3: Children Whose Parents Divorce and Remarry Are Damaged Permanently

There can be no disputing the pain and anger caused by marital divorce, custody proceedings, and the upheaval of every aspect of one’s life for




Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm

children of any age. Moreover, this upheaval is repeated with the introduc­ tion of a stepparent and perhaps stepsiblings. It is no wonder that loyalty conflicts and the uncertainty of stepfamily life take an emotional toll on children. This emotional toll may be expressed in inappropriate school behaviors, home conflicts, and social acting out. These easily recognizable “cries of distress” mislead others into thinking that the disruptiveness and trauma of this transition are normative and enduring. Moreover, it is easier to document those children struggling with this transition rather than those for whom the conversion to the stepfamily was an easier process.

Myth #4: Children Need to Withdraw From Their Nonresidential Parent to Bond With a Stepparent

Consistent with the legal perspective that a child can have only two parents, children are sometimes expected to relinquish any expectation of the divorced parent as active and involved and, equally traumatically, to replace that spouse with an individual with whom the child shares no family history and a negligible emotional connection. The myth is premised on the belief that continued contact and emotional attachment with the nonresidential parent will interfere with the transition to the new stepfamily. Just as one’s parent has “replaced” the divorced spouse with the new spouse, so too are children to “divorce” the parent who no longer resides in the family home and instead to replace that parent figure with the new stepparent.

Myth #5: Remarriages That Follow a Death Go More Smoothly Than Those That Occur After a Divorce

There is an assumption that the physical passing of a spouse/ parent equates to an emotional relinquishment of that relationship and that stepfamilies that form after a death will evolve easily because the new stepparent can fill the relational void. This belief is influenced in part by comparing the stepfamily formed when divorced adults remarry; the divorced spouse remains a “pres­ ent” parent, confounding the status of the new stepparent and generating loyalty conflicts between the children and the new parental holon.

Narratives: Stepfamily Members Describe Their Own Lives

The following comments are examples of the countless postings on Internet chat rooms.

Everyone has a compelling story to tell. Every single person within a stepfamily structure could break your heart with their side of things. I try to remember that in my own stepfamily life when I want to lash out because I’m hurt or angry or just grieving that I’m in a stepfamily at all at the same time that I’m happy I’m in one. It’s complicated. Our families are all complicated. But it’s so easy to get stuck in our own version of things. When I read angry, hurtful letters and comments on this site I see deep pain.

-Retrieved from http:/ /www.noonesthebitch.com (10/29/2012)






To survive and have a successful marriage is no easy task. Stir in children from a previous marriage, ex-spouses, ex-in-laws, and the extra baggage from previous relationships and you will realize just how different the stepfamily is. Each of these ingredients can bring with it a whole set of problems themselves that need to be dealt with.

-Retrieved from http: I /www.hicow.com/ step family I marriage/ invisible-man-I.html (10/29 /2012)

As a step and bio Mom, I know that it is not uncommon for tension, compromise, and confusion to rule when the role of parent is shared between a step and biological parent. Some people still feel that step­ parents aren’t “real” parents, but our culture has no norms to suggest how they are different. And the less our roles are defined, the more unhappy we are as both parents and stepparents. Another role ambiguity is that society seems to expect acquired parents and children to instantly love each other in much the same way as biological parents and their children do. In reality, however, this is often just not so. A stepparent might feel a tremendous amount of guilt about his or her lack of positive feelings (or even the presence of negative feelings) toward the spouse’s children. As a stepparent, you might feel like an unbiased observer with a grudge because you’re an outsider and the very thing that’s making you “unbiased” is something you resent, biology. Stepchildren, as well, often don’t react to their parent’s new spouse as though he or she were the “real” parent. The irony of expecting instant “real” parent-child love is further complicated by the fact that stepparents are not gener­ ally expected to be “equal” in discipline or otherwise controlling their stepchildren. Another reason for a difficult stepparent-child relationship might be that your child does not want this marriage to work, and so, acts out with hostility. Commonly children harbor fantasies that their biological parents will reunite. If children had reservations about or strongly disapproved of your divorce, they may sabotage your new relationships in the hope that you will get back together. Children who want their natural parents to remarry may feel that sabotaging the new relationship will get them back together. Although all stepchildren and stepparents are to some degree uncomfortable with some aspect of their new family role, certain difficulties are more likely to affect stepmothers, and others are more common to stepfathers. As a stepparent, your best shot at happiness is to ignore the myths and negative images and to work to stay optimistic. Society also seems, on the one hand, to expect romantic, almost mythical loving relationships between stepmothers and children while, at the same time, portraying stepmothers as cruel, vain, selfish, competitive, and even abusive. -Retrieved from http:/ /becomingastepmom.wordpress.com (10/29 /2012)

Deconstructing the Myths

Narrative-theory clinicians believe that clients commonly “report a sense of helplessness and blame-filled descriptions of each member and the relation­ ships between them” (Williams & Kurtz, 2009, p. 182). It is the adherences to these problem-saturated descriptions, not the individuals involved,





Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm

which constitute the focus of deconstruction. The process of deconstruction provides a critical analysis of texts to establish that the dominant narratives are simply that; one possible story or explanation for an event. When clients accept this, generating alternative explanations, founded in the client’s lived experience and clinician’s professional knowledge, becomes possible (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2013; Nichols, 2011; Williams & Kurtz, 2009). Out of those thickened narratives, which replace the dominant social nar­ ratives, come new ways to foster a more realistic and empowering vision of shared stepfamily values and beliefs.

Deconstructing Myth #l: Stepfamily Blending Happens Quickly

It can take anywhere from 4 to 7 years for a stepfamily to blend successfully (Visher & Visher, 1996, 2003; Visher, Visher, & Pasley, 1997). One rule of thumb is that, for each child, the evolution process takes twice as long as the child’s chronological age at the time of the step family formation. Therefore, the process of stepfamily bonding, assuming all other dynamics are equal, will happen more quickly for younger children and more slowly the older the child; in fact, family bonding may never occur if the stepchildren are teens. As discussed in the next chapter, this process involves five distinct developmental stages, each of which must be completed successfully to meet the challenges of later stages.

When stepfamily members buy into the myth of “instant blending,” they may think that something is wrong with their family when it seems to take a long time for things to settle down. This may turn into self-blaming, lead­ ing one partner (usually the stepparent) to withdraw from the new family system. Questioning the system itself or one’s place within that system bodes poorly for its continuity. This dismay may be part of the reason for the greater rate of dissolution of second, and subsequent, marriages (about 65%) during the first 3 years. If one believes that the turmoil and stress of transition are permanent features of the relationship, stepparents may be tempted to give up on their new family prematurely.

Deconstructing Myth #2: A Stepfamily Is the Same as a First-Marriage Family

Stepfamily members may have a tendency to inappropriately compare their family to the “ideal” first-marriage families they know. The professional literature labels this tendency as a “deficiency comparison model” (Carter & McGoldrick, 2005a). In theory, a “deficit comparison” approach is based on appraisals between one normative experience and deviant experiences, with those experiences that do not match the normative model decried as inferior. However, the very real differences between stepfamilies and first­ marriage families should be seen not as deficiencies in the stepfamily but rather as expressions of its uniqueness. Stepfamily development is more complex and challenging than nuclear family development (see Chapter 2), and part of the complexity derives from the lack of societal institutionaliza­ tion for the roles and functioning in the stepfamily. (Social institutionalization





refers to a set of common practices that seem to epitomize the way that different social groups tend to behave; Cherlin, 1978.) This notion can be compared to a floor plan for a home that allows for individual expression but adheres to commonly accepted practice in construction. This type of “family blueprint” does not yet exist for stepfamilies, which means that individuals often experience apprehension and wonder whether they are doing things “right.”

Deconstructing Myth #3: Children Whose Parents Divorce and Remarry Are Damaged Permanently

The assertion of “permanent dysfunction” among children of divorce and in stepfamilies seems to generalize a point-in-time evaluation of a child’s functioning without adequate reassessment over time. Clearly the initial period of stepfamily formation may be difficult, as individuals find that their roles and relationships are reconfigured with external family members, such as non-residential parents and grandparents. This instability may manifest itself in children’s school and social behaviors. However, this “acting out” is a symptom of the uncertainty of the stepfamily and will resolve itself over time with appropriate intervention to help the child/ren understand the stepfamily evolution and how to navigate a more complex relational web; extreme expressions of uncertainty and anger generally wane over time as the stepfamily system settles itself.

Nevertheless, about a third of children of divorce have long-term ad­ justment difficulties, usually as a function of continued conflict between the ex-spouses, not as a function of inclusion in the stepfamily. In these instances, children are “emotional victims” of the anger, resentment, and loyalty conflicts between their parents; the stepfamily processes and inte­ gration itself is not a factor. When divorced parents can construct effective coparenting relationships, their children adjust and are satisfied in their new families.

Deconstructing Myth #4: Children Need to Withdraw From Their Nonresidential Parent to Bond With a Stepparent

Divorce or spousal separation speaks to the dissolution of marital ties but states nothing about the dissolution of parent-child relationships. In the best of circumstances, continued contact between children and the absent biological parent affirms for the child the continued love, affection, and support of the absent parent. When children aren’t allowed contact with the nonresidential parent, they tend to have idealized fantasies about him or her. Left without occasional “reality checks,” children may develop expecta­ tions to which a stepparent can never fully measure up. Normally, the best situation for a child’s growth and development is continued contact with both biological parents after divorce. This suggestion flies in the face of legal statute, which firmly states that a child can only have two “parents.” However, this legal stipulation overlooks the emotional needs and reality of children in stepfamilies. In recognition of those needs, it is suggested




Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm

that stepfamily imaging include how the biological parents and stepparents can all contribute to meeting the emotional needs of all children involved, in a way that calls on the strengths of each stepfamily adult member and forms an overt commitment to set aside any lingering spousal animosity for the sake of the children.

Deconstructing Myth #5: Remarriages That Follow a Death Go More Smoothly Than Those That Occur After a Divorce

It can be simply asserted that remarriage is a complex reorganization of family affective ties, regardless of how the prior relationship ended. While home may be more peaceful following an acrimonious divorce, children may view the remarriage as a betrayal of the absent parent, for whom the children retain strong ties of history and affection, regardless of the par­ ent’s choice of a new partner. The separation of the roles of “husband” and “father,” one now passed and the other still active, remains a residue from the legal battles of the divorce, requiring present and absent spouses to resolve any lingering marital issues or, at least, to ensure that those issues do not contaminate ongoing coparenting. The issues also emerge in cases of a parent’s death. A parent who has died may also acquire a “halo,” or image of perfection that makes it very difficult for a stepparent to enter and integrate with the new family. The physical absence of the departed spouse cannot be confused with the children’s relinquishment of emotional attachments, some of which may grow even stronger in the absence of the deceased spouse as selective memory paints an idealized version of that parent. In addition, any attempt to convince the children that the new parent will “replace” the deceased parent will end poorly. Rather, the ap­ proach should be to augment rather than replace a parental role. Legally, children can only have two parents at any given time, but in their hearts, children can hold room for multiple parenting figures, each providing love, acceptance, and nurturance in unique ways.

This section has offered five examples of the deconstruction of popular dominant narratives about stepfamilies. If there is truth and guiding principle in the statement that “knowledge is power,” then this process of replac­ ing what society thinks with what the clinician knows and the stepfamily lives on a daily basis provides a counterbalance to the prevalent myths. While this transition needs to be translated into new interaction styles, the replacement of myths that foster confusion and hopelessness with more realistic and positive perspectives is a critical foundation.


The number of stepfamilies in society as a whole and among specified cul­ turally diverse populations is growing, and clinicians are likely to encounter them in their practices. Clinicians would do well to consider how best to make stepfamily relationships more satisfactory and perhaps to offset the rise in the dissolution rate of second and subsequent marriages. As McGold­ rick and Carter (2011, p. 317) advised, “the key that determines whether





the issue is transitional or has permanent crippling impact is whether it is handled adequately within the. family system in spite of the general lack of social support offered by society.” Therefore, family empowerment and advocacy, based on the integration of professional knowledge and lived experience, is a critical step toward understanding the distinction between what society purports and what the professional literature reveals about stepfamilies.


Anonymous. (2011). A portrait ofstepfamilies. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http:/ /www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/0l/13/ A presentation and analysis of emerging demographic trends in stepfamilies

Duncan, S. F. (n.d.). Recognizing stepfamily myths, realities, and strengths. Forever Families. Retrieved from https:/ /foreverfamilies.byu.edu/ Pages Is tepfamilies I Recognizing-Stepfamily-Myths,-Reali ties ,-and­ Strengths.aspx A listing of seven stepfamily myths and strengths

Lintermans, G. (2011). Replace stepfamily myths with realistic expectations. Retrieved from http:/ /stepfamilysolutions.blogspot.com/2011/07I replace-stepfamily-myths-with-realistic.html A self-report to normalize the complexity of stepfamily relationships

Stewart, S. D. (2006). Brave new stepfamilies. National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. Retrieved from www.healthymarriageinfo.org/ A presentation and analysis of emerging demographic trends in step families




barrier. I had to find a way to adjust with limited job openings during that time. I was able to find a job in a daycare facility as a teacher, where I discovered working with children and helping families were also my passion. Also, during this period I got married and had two more children.