ERIC Number: ED270663
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Apr
Identification and Treatment of Stepfamily Issues for Counselors and Teachers.
Medler, Byron W.; And Others
Although the stepfamily has become a significant family system in the United States, the amount of empirical research on stepfamily living is limited. The definitions of a stepfamily as any family in which at least one adult is a stepparent is a simple one, yet the issues and dynamics involved in stepfamilies are complex. The structures, roles, functions, and boundaries of stepfamilies are more ambiguous and complex than are those of nuclear families. Children grieve over the dissolution of their parents' marriage and go through the grieving stages of denial, anger, guilt/depression, and acceptance/resignation. Children can be at different stages in this cycle when their parents remarry and their stage can determine their ability to adjust to a remarriage. Seven critical issues which children deal with in relation to remarriage are: (1) dealing with loss; (2) divided loyalties; (3) deciding where he/she belongs; (4) membership in two households; (5) unreasonable expectations; (6) fantasies of natural parenting; and (7) guilt over causing the divorce. Much of the stepfamily literature suggests that adolescent stepchildren may experience the greatest difficulty in adjusting to a stepfamily system. Adolescents, in particular, may experience stress related to discipline, having a biological parent living elsewhere, unrealistic expectations, and divided loyalty. The rapid growth in the number of school-age children living in stepfamilies indicates the need for school counselors to initiate programs to assist stepfamilies. There are a number of ways that therapists can help stepfamilies through education and family therapy. A primary consideration for the therapist working with a stepfamily is where the family and the family members are in regard to developmental issues. (NB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Association for Counseling and Development (New York, NY, April 2-5, 1985).