Without credible Census data to support them, many lay stepfamily authors claim that over half of American re/marriages fail legally. Whatever the re/divorce rate, millions of co-parents (stepparents and bioparents) and resident and visiting minor kids live with significant frustration, hurt, confusion, guilt, and resentment for many years. Few courting co-parents know they face five major hazards that will hinder their family dreams from coming true: (1) unseen psychological wounds; (2) unawareness and ignorance; (3) blocked grief; (4) courtship neediness and idealism; and (5) little accessible, informed help. The "/" in "re/divorce" notes that it may be a stepparent's first union.
Based on 25 years' research, this is the fourth volume in a series dedicated to reducing America's horrendous (re)divorce epidemic. The prior volume, "Stepfamily Courtship" (Xlibris.com, 2001), outlines seven Projects to help courting couples make choose the right people to commit to, for the right reasons, at the right time. Six of the projects are highly worthwhile for typical re/married co-parents.
This modular guidebook for co-parents, ex mates, and supporters adds five more long-term projects:
8) Nourish your re/marriage and (usually) keep it second, after personal integrity and wound-recovery. In complex multi-home stepfamilies this is exceptionally difficult for many couples to do; as they...
9) Merge three or more multi-generational biofamilies over many years, and master complex, concurrent, alien conflicts over values, membership, roles, traditions, parenting, assets, and loyalties; and related stressful relationship triangles;
10) Overcome challenging barriers to evolve an effective co-parenting team of three or more primary caregivers, and nurture minor kids faced with a daunting mix of developmental and merger-adjustment needs. Because these nine ongoing co-parent projects are complex, confusing, and conflictual...
11) Intentionally build an effective support network for co-parents and kids, and use it regularly. Finally...
12) Help each other stay balanced personally, re/maritally, and co-parentally each day and enjoy this whole challenging, enriching experience as you do all these and many other things!
THREE BOOK SECTIONS
[ Part 1 ] of this guidebook offers seven chapters to prepare readers to integrate five new safeguard projects with the prior six. Chapters include _ how to get the most from this book, _ traits of a high-nurturance family, _ a re/marital quiz, _ key stepfamily realities, _ an overview of the five re/marital hazards, and _ a summary of all 12 co-parental projects.
[ Part 2 ] contains seven chapters explaining and illustrating the five post-re/wedding projects. Project 9a outlines the complex biofamily-merger process, and Project 9b proposes practical ways to resolve inevitable merger stressors. Project 10a focuses on overcoming common barriers to co-parenting teamwork. Project 10b explores effective child discipline in stepfamilies. The last chapter in Part 2 explores options if these safeguard projects don't seem to work, and some next-step options.
[ Part 3 ] includes nine supportive resources to help master these projects: worksheets, summaries, typical stepchild needs, a unique stepfamily glossary, selected readings, and a thorough index.
Readers with Internet access will profit, for this series contains many Web-address pointers to supportive articles and worksheets at the non-profit Stepfamily inFormation Website (http://sfhelp.org).
Peter Gerlach, MSW, is uniquely qualified to create these guidebooks and the related non-profit Web site. He combines 17 years' engineering and business training and experience with 23 years' psychotherapy practice specializing in stepfamily relationship counseling and childhood-trauma recovery. Three decades study and teaching communication skills, and 17 years' recovery from growing up in an addicted (wounded) family give Peter extra insight and perception.
Underlying those are years of life experience as a stepgrandson, stepson, stepbrother, and stepfather of two girls. Peter is an invited Board member of the Stepfamily Association of America (saafamilies.org), and a contributing editor to "Your Stepfamily" magazine. (yourstepfamily.com).
The volumes in this divorce-prevention series are unique in the genre of stepfamily and remarriage literature for six reasons:
A) The author's personality, personal background, and unusual mix of business, engineering (systems), teaching, and therapy training and experience;
B) The premise that all families range from "low nurturance" to "high nurturance," and have observable traits that suggest their "nurturance level."
C) The central premises that (a) adults from low-nurturance childhoods suffer up to six psychological wounds that affect their health and relationships; and (b) typical American co-parents are significantly wounded and don't know it - which puts dependent kids at major risk of inheriting similar wounds until their caregivers heal;
D) The new concepts of five epidemic re/marital hazards, and 12 safeguard co-parental projects;
E) The idea that most "stepfamily role and relationship problems" are surface symptoms of underlying primary needs - which can be identified and filled with seven specific communication skills; and...
F) Unique book features that include frequent reader "reality checks", liberal cross-references, related addresses to the extensive related non-profit Web site, glossaries to promote clear communication, and realistic illustrations of "inner-family" dialogs among personality subselves.
Though this modular book can be read alone, readers will get the most from it after reading three prior (Xlibris.com) volumes: "Who's Really Running Your Life?" (healing inner wounds); "Satisfactions" (seven communication skills); and "Stepfamily Courtship" (co-parent Projects 1-7). See the Table of Contents for more detail on "Build a High-nurturance Stepfamily."
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November 12, 2002
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