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Quiz: Stepfamilies: myth or reality?

SHARE Quiz: Stepfamilies: myth or reality?

Look at the following statements and mark M for myth and R for reality by each one:

1. The formation of a stepfamily is an event. Within about one year, stepfamily adjustment is complete.

2. Forming a stepfamily after a death is easier than after a divorce.

3. We will all immediately love each other.

4. We love each other enough that we will easily work out any problems that arise. There will be no conflict in this new family.

5. Dealing with stepchildren will be like dealing with biological children.

6. Discipline in the family will go smoothly. Stepchildren will respond readily to both parents' efforts at discipline.

7. This new family will make up for all our past losses and broken dreams.

8. Life in our former family won't matter, so we won't need to discuss issues of the past.

9. We will do everything right this time around because we have learned from the past.

10. We must prove to others that we are doing well as a family.

11. With time, stepfamilies can become like a first-time family.

12. Stepfamilies where children are there only part of the time are easier than when children are there full-time.

13. Having a baby together will help us solve our problems.

14. Stepparents are generally unloving to children.


This is a trick quiz, says family life specialist Cheryl R. Merrell. "These are all myths. The problem is that we think a lot of them should be true; we want them to be true. And some of them even might be true for some families."

Problems arise, she says, when families expect them to all be true for every family. And then they worry that something is wrong with themselves or their children when these things don't happen.

A key point to remember, she says, is that forming a stepfamily is a process; it takes time — on average between four and seven years. Sometimes the process will go smoothly; sometimes there will be bumps and stresses.

Forming a stepfamily after a death will be different than after a divorce — not necessarily easier, not necessarily better, simply different.

Some families may mesh easier than others; some may never quite come together as they might hope. Having more children together can be a uniting factor — but it won't solve any problems.

Stepfamilies can be loving, meaningful relationships, says Merrell. They can be good; they can be happy. But they will always be different from first-time families.