Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Blended Family

  • Patricia L. PapernowEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_471

Name of Family Form

“Blended Family”


Stepfamily; “Remarried family”


“Blended family” is a commonly used term for stepfamily. Although the phrase captures the human longing for closeness and oneness, it is misleading. Becoming a stepfamily proves to be less like blending a smoothie and more like asking a group of Japanese and a group of Italians to live intimately together. “Remarried family” is often used interchangeably with “stepfamily.” However, many stepcouple marriages are a first marriage for one or both adults. Forty-two percent of Americans have a close step relationship (Pew Research Center 2011), making it critically important that all clinicians develop a solid understanding of stepfamily dynamics, the challenges they create, and evidence-based, evidence-informed strategies for meeting those challenges.


Stepfamilies differ fundamentally from first-time families. In first-time families, children are born into an already-established adult...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Amato, P. R. (1994). The implication of research findings on children in stepfamilies. In A. Booth & J. Dunn (Eds.), Stepfamilies: Who benefits? Who does not? (pp. 81–88). Hillside: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  2. Bray, J. (1992). Family relationships and children’s adjustment in clinical and nonclinical stepfather families. Journal of Family Psychology, 6, 60–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bray, J. (1999). From marriage to remarriage and beyond: Findings from the developmental issues in stepfamilies research project. In E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), Coping with divorce, single parenting, and remarriage. A risk and resiliency perspective (pp. 263–273). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, S. L., & Lin, I. (2012). The gray divorce revolution: Rising divorce among middle-aged and older adults, 1990–2010. Journals of Gerontology: Series B. Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67, 731–741.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Browning, S. C., & Artfelt, E. (2012). Stepfamily therapy: A 10-step clinical approach. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cartwright, C. (2008). Resident parent-child relationships in stepfamilies. In J. Pryor (Ed.), International handbook of stepfamilies (pp. 208–230). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Dunn, J. (2002). The adjustment of children in stepfamilies: Lessons from community studies. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 7(4), 154–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2017). Stepfamily relationships: Development, dynamics, and interventions (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Jamison, T. (2011). Patterns of stepparent – stepchild relationship development. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 396–413.Google Scholar
  10. Grych, J. H., & Fincham, F. D. (Eds.). (2001). Interparental conflict and child development: Theory, research, and application. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hetherington, E. M., Bridges, M., & Insabella, G. M. (1998). What matters, what does not? Five perspectives on the association between marital transitions and children’s adjustment. American Psychologist, 53, 167–184.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Jeynes, W. H. (2007). The impact of parental remarriage on children: A meta-analysis. Marriage & Family Review, 40(4), 75–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Nozawa, S. (2015). Remarriage and stepfamilies. In S. R. Quah (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of families in Asia (pp. 345–358). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Papernow, P. L. (1993). Becoming a stepfamily: Stages of development in remarried families. New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  15. Papernow, P. L. (2013). Surviving and thriving in stepfamily relationships: What works and what doesn’t. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pew Research Center. (2011). A portrait of stepfamilies. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends.Google Scholar
  17. Stewart, S. D. (2007). Brave new stepfamilies. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. van Eeden-Moorefield, B., & Pasley, K. (2012). Remarriage and stepfamily life. In G. Petersen & K. Bush (Eds.), Handbook of marriage and the family (3rd ed., pp. 517–548). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Visher, E. B., & Visher, J. (1979). Stepfamilies: A guide to working with stepparents and stepchildren. New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  20. Visher, E. B., & Visher, J. (1996). Therapy with stepfamilies. New York: Brunner Mazel.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Stepfamily EducationHudsonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mudita Rastogi
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Argosy UniversitySchaumburgUSA