Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stepfamilies as "Reconstituted" Families

Five days ago my laptop died. My tech-savvy FH has tried each day since to coax it back from the grave, but to no avail. So here I am working on a borrowed computer and mourning the loss of the dozens and dozens (and dozens) of blogs and articles I had bookmarked.

As I’ve been fretting over all the scholarly articles I had saved in my Favorites list, I was reminded of something about them that’s been bothering me for a while. Namely, that a lot of the scholarly articles I’ve read about stepfamilies refer to them as “reconstituted families.” (See here , here, and here for a few examples.) One article even refers to stepfamilies as “recreating families."

This description frustrates me because I think it’s both degrading and inaccurate. The word reconstituted means that something has been “reconstructed, restored, or rearranged.” In reality, though, a stepfamily is not just a family that has been rearranged. A stepfamily is a completely new family with its own unique joys and challenges.

I think as a stepmother it’s important to keep in mind that our family isn’t any less valuable, any less real of a family, just because we or our spouse has children from a previous relationship. A family by definition is the bond between all sorts of relations: adults, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and third cousins; a family is the bringing together of people who love one another.

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