Reformed family groups
Non-traditional nuclear families
Reorganized family units
Dearth of shared genes within nuclear families
People living in stepfamilies may experience unfulfilled expectations, unpredicted hostilities, feelings of conflicting loyalties and of not belonging. They must fuse two families to make a third, new family, and in doing so must cope with the fear of failure. Each family group brings to the stepfamily its own unique ways of communicating, unfamiliar and unexpected to the other. At the same time, the relationships are new, and therefore tender and tenuous, and feelings of resentment, rejection and conflict are not uncommon. For many, the subject of stepfamilies is taboo, thus inhibiting a free exchange of information and experiences to support stepfamilies. Stepfamily relationships receive little attention from professionals and researchers.
Recent statistics from the US Bureau of Census show that one out of two marriages end in divorce and that two-thirds of the divorced and the widowed remarry. One out of every six American children live in a stepfamily.
Most people see the biological family as the model on which to pattern stepfamilies, but the same rules simply do not apply. The nuclear family - with a biological mother, father and child or children - is no longer the norm.