Stepfamily Day kicks off on September 16th

Celebrate the entire week with your family!

​​National Stepfamily Day 

September 16-22 Celebrating the whole week!


Q. Why use the term "stepfamily"?

A. Preferred explanation: - as a general rule, the term stepfamily is preferred because it is consistent with the naming of all other family types. All other family types are defined by the parent-child relationships (e.g., biological, foster, adoptive, single-parent).

While the choice of stepfamily (and any step attribution) is seen by some as negative (the wicked stepmother, treated poorly as a stepchild, etc.), SAA and stepfamilies hope that, through education, the term stepfamily will acquire a positive, or at the very least a neutral, connotation.

Referring to stepfamilies as "blended families" is troublesome to stepfamilies and the professionals who work with them. It is a catchy media phrase that does not describe either a family relationship or what happens when at least one partner to a marriage brings children from a prior relationship (marriage ended by death or divorce or an unwed parent).

Stepfamilies do not "blend." If one is determined to use a cooking phrase, try "combine or fold gently." Children in stepfamilies do not lose their individuality or their connection and active attachment to the parent who is not part of the remarriage of mother or father. A stepfamily does not recreate a first family (i.e., blend into something entirely new with all prior connections severed and the former existence obliterated). Therapists have learned (and research confirms) that when stepfamilies try to "blend," they are typically doomed to failure. Children actively balk at inferences that the stepfamily is to be considered their new family eligible to demand their full attention and loyalty. They know they have divided loyalties. (Consider the confusion when both parents remarry and the child is expected to be a full-time member of TWO "blended" families.) Parents must accept the reality that their children have lots of "parents" now and the nurturing no longer comes from a traditional family structure. Instead of trying to blend everyone, it seems far better to help all individuals to understand the nature of the extended and expanded family with various segments having permeable boundaries. It is not helpful for anyone in a stepfamily to pretend that they are blended. The concept itself precludes working together with the expanded family members.

B. Short explanation: the concept of a "blended family" sets up unrealistic expectations and makes all aspects of adjustment more difficult than they need to be.

C. Additional comment - the media seems to have a love affair with the designation "blended family." "Blended" is like hearing chalk screech on a chalkboard. Stepfamilies are not blended! Healthy ones recognize that children from prior relationships have two families and do not blend solely into one family. Stepfamilies that try to ignore this reality are typically doomed to either failure or considerable unhappiness on the part of several or all of the stepfamily members. We are combined families, extended families, expanded families, almost anything is better than blended as a designation!