Understanding and working with Stepfamilies

Module Sections:

Applying the Framework

This new family will be adjusting to new relationships while still grieving over the loss of previous relationship with their wife and mother. The SFD model can inform the assessment of the individual and family as a whole. Recognizing the continued emotional ties with the deceased member, treatment will focus on helping the stepfamily find ways to connect the new members without experiencing disloyalty or guilt about forming a new relationship without their former wife or mother, and husband or father.

The continued involvement of Brooke's bio father will introduce the challenge of valuing his role while Bob and Judy assume the role of co-parents to Brooke. Bob and Judy will be forming a new parental unit and facing the challenge of adjusting to the input from Brooke's bio father.

Brooke's unique challenge will be to experience connection to the new stepfamily members while navigating her developmental tasks of exploring and defining herself as an independent individual. The parents will need to discover ways to remind her of her place within the family while allowing her the emotional space to explore peer relationships. This is also complicated by the issues of Aspergers Disorder.

The Family FIRO model provides a framework that prioritizes the family's effort to connect, develop shared meaning and associated experiences before placing the stepparent into a role of control or disciplinarian. Reasonable expectations of mutual respect and care for one another can be reinforced while the role of disciplinarian remains with the bio parents for the foreseeable future.

Audio Companion: Understanding Stepfamilies