Stepfamily Types


According to a ten-year, longitudinal study of stepfamilies, Dr. James Bray, concluded that three very distinct stepfamily types emerge over time:

1)       Romantic:  The Romantic type almost always fails because they fail to acknowledge the reality of the underlying issues that need to be addressed. They therefore never develop the skills and strategies necessary to gel into a functional stepfamily.

2)       Matriarchal:  Some Matriarchal stepfamilies survive; but many fail.  They are characterized by a very “take charge”, effective woman, and a man (usually without kids of his own) who is drawn to her because of her competence. Their stepfamily is most likely to fail soon after they have a child together.

3)       Neotraditional:  Neotraditional stepfamilies almost always succeed.  They acknowledge the underlying issues and acquire the skills necessary to address them. They:

  • Form a strong couple bond that is separate from their earlier relationship,

  • Systematically integrate the stepparent into the lives and management of the stepchildren,

  • Develop functional strategies to manage with the nonresidential parent(s), ex-spouses, and extended family, and

  • Learn to respond adaptively to the many changes that characterize stepfamily life.

 Building Stepfamilies That Work provides the information, exercises, discussion, assignments, and support  that will give you the tools to emerge as a successful, Neotraditional stepfamily.


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Stepfamily Foundation of Alberta