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National Step Family Day Emily Bouchard

Step Wars: Overcoming the Perils and Making Peace in Adult Stepfamilies -
Part 1

A Book Review by Sheena Berg

How often have you heard of empty nesters, either divorced or widowed, falling in love and marrying and thinking to yourself, "how fabulous and how perfect?" After raising a family, it's now their turn to experience the dream relationship where they can focus exclusively on each other and nurture their marriage without having to worry about raising each other's kids. Younger couples with kids, who remarry, face the typical blended family stressors of co-parenting responsibilities, transitioning kids, dual household finances, stepsibling rivalry, and ex spouse issues, all of which dilute the energy of the adult relationship and leave little time for the couple to nurture each other.

In fact, most step family literature is concentrated on younger stepfamilies because it's assumed older re-marrieds avoid the usual blended family challenges and are perfectly poised to focus on each other and enjoy healthy extended blended family relationships that only add to their combined happiness. It sounds too good to be true and in many cases it is.

• Download's interview
of Dr. Grace Gabe &
Jean Lipman-Blumen on Overcoming Step Wars
for only $19.95.
In their groundbreaking book, Step Wars, Grace Gabe, M.D. and Jean Lipman-Blumen, Ph.D. describe and explain the surprising and unique dynamics of the adult stepfamily. After analyzing in-depth interviews and focus groups among a representative cross section of remarried parents and their adult children, the authors have written the definitive book about the reality of stepfamilies and adult children. Their book highlights a multitude of real and identifiable relationship examples that illustrate the major issues and problems between adult stepchildren, their parents and stepparents, and provides practical and encouraging advice and strategies for parents and adult children alike. Adult stepfamilies can be satisfying and heartwarming when parents, adult children and grandchildren work together as a healthy and happy family unit.

Step Wars begins with the scenario of the excited and happy couple, misjudging the reaction to their marriage, and having their happiness shattered by the unexpected, negative responses of their adult children who suddenly weigh in about their parent's love life and marriage plans. It's a generational role reversal. However, it's rarely friendly and often creates conflict in the marriage, either between the parent and adult kids and/or the new spouse and his or her kids. Whatever the relationship dynamics, it is baffling for the newlyweds to experience unforeseen anger and resentment.

Dr. Gabe and Dr. Lipman-Blumen have identified five common anger issues, described as the Five Furies, that surprisingly, both the parental couple and adult children share. Although these basic fears and concerns are important factors in stepparent relationships, there are opposing views about who causes the problems.

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