Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships


Topic: 400 WORDS Of the 5 challenges you read about in Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships, what do you believe is/was the most difficult challenge based on your own experience (either as a child of divorce, divorced parent, remarried parent, or someone who had a friend or counselee experience divorce and remarriage)? How can you help families through this challenge in the future? Be practical.

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REPLY *2*** 200 WORDS MUST INCLUDE Student name so I know who’s reply belong to which

Discussion forum 4COLLAPSE

**Trude,According to the author of Papernow, the five challenges consist of “stepparents becoming stuck insiders, children struggling with experiencing losses, loyalty binds, and change, stepfamily architecture polarizes the adult around parenting tasks, stepfamilies must create a new family culture while navigating a sea of differences, ex-spouses whether alive or deceased are an inextricable part of the family” (Papernow, p8&9, 2013). Of the five challenges I believe when the ex-spouse, alive or deceased are complex part of the family is the most difficult challenge based on my readings and personal childhood experiences. This challenge entails the living biological parent having an affect on everything which involves the decision making of the child. If there is high conflict amongst the biological parents, the stepfamily formation will be highly strained and the child and or children will be the one to suffer within this process. These moods within the high conflicting relationship amongst the biological parents can shape the feelings of the child whether positive or negative. If the parent is deceased, the child can carry these feelings of grief and lost for years to come and even more when special events such as holidays and birthdays.

Regarding my personal experiences challenge five surrounding ex-spouses my father is still alive and I can relate when he can during visitation and if him and my mom were having a conflict for whatever reason I always felt sad during this time and vice versa when they getting along after they divorced. I can recall acting up in school and my mom calling my dad when I was expelled from school and needed a parent to reinstate me back to school. I can recall my mom and dad arguing over the phone and my mom swearing he was to reinstate me because he needed to be more involved in my wellbeing. My stepfather for the most part stayed out of it. He had his own issues with my mom regarding finances and his lack of.

Regarding how I would help families through this challenge, I would apply the education and techniques which I gain throughout the course from the research and readings. I would stress the importance of working towards low conflicts and cohesiveness amongst the biological parents.

References- Papernow, P. L. (2013). Surviving and thriving in stepfamily relationships: What works and what doesn’t. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 9780415894388.



In Part II of Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships, each of the chapters highlights one of the five challenges stepfamilies face. These challenges include (1) insider/outsider positions, (2) children struggling with losses, loyalty binds, and too much change (3) polarizing stepparents and parents around parenting tasks, (4) creating a new family structure and (5) avoiding or dealing with conflict amongst ex-spouses as they are indeed also a part of the family. I believe the most difficult challenge based on my own experience is that of insider/outsider positions. I previously expressed my own embarrassment regarding being married to my husband for over two years now and never having met two of his three children. Their mother has never allowed me to meet them and threatens to take away my husband’s time with them if he violates her wishes. My husband and I were never married prior to our marriage; however, I believe the mother of his two children feels as though I destroyed her future with him, and she holds a lot of hostility. I suppose this coincides with the challenge of avoiding or dealing with conflict amongst ex-spouses.

I married my husband thinking everything would soon work itself out; I was living in an ignorant bliss. Now that reality has set in, being in an outsider position has really taken its toll on me mentally. Not being able to hang around or even meet my stepchildren leaves me with many negative feelings. Papernow (2013) says stepparents in this situation often feel left out, invisible and alone. While I do not feel alone, I do feel extremely left out and I am essentially invisible to my stepchildren. Papernow (2013) also says that parents find themselves torn between their kids and their partners. While unsure if my spouse feels this way, I do my best to prevent him from encountering those emotions. I would never come in between his time with his children. He sees them maybe once a week and I would be selfish to come between that.

The insider/outsider challenge is often one of the first that therapists need to address with step couples and with individual adult stepfamily members. Because it colors so much of stepfamily life, the theme reappears frequently (Papernow, 2013). Papernow (2013) goes on to say the phrase “blended family” implies that the best way to soften insider/outsider positions would be to spend lots of time together as a family. Yet, pushing for family togetherness too quickly can worsen insider/outsider pulls. Being that I have known my spouse for almost four years, I do not believe I am pushing for family togetherness too quickly. In the eyes of the children, this could be so. Granted, I am not asking for them to move in or spend every weekend around me, but I would love to meet them and eventually begin to do things together as a family. Papernow’s (2013) best practices to resolve inside/outside positions don’t necessarily apply to my particular situation so I sought out strategies from the chapter on dealing with conflict amongst ex-spouses. Papernow (2013) speaks on reassuring the ex as a best practice, “An ex-spouse’s recoupling can be very anxiety-provoking, especially for mothers, who often fear losing their children to the “other” woman. Anxious ex-spouses are more likely to behave badly than secure ones. Preventative action can sometimes help”. Papernow (2013) encourages parents to send a short email or communication to the ex-spouse saying something like “You are, and always will be, our children’s mother”. Stepparents can also write a note saying something like “I will try to be the best stepmother I can be for your children. I hope I can add to their lives, but it will never be my intention to replace you”. Another best practice would be to help ex-spouses to let go of all but life and death differences. It is important for the ex to realize that their child is loved and taken care of and they cannot control every difference of opinion. I am married to my spouse and that will not change. This is not a life or death situation and the children (like my child before marriage and my spouse’s oldest child) are capable of adapting.

Papernow, P. L. (2013). Surviving and thriving in stepfamily relationships: What works and what doesn’t. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 9780415894388.For more Information on Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships  check on this:


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