Academic journal article Family Relations

Developing Healthy Stepfamilies: Twenty Families Tell Their Stories

Academic journal article Family Relations

Developing Healthy Stepfamilies: Twenty Families Tell Their Stories

Article excerpt

Kelley, Patricia. (1995). Developing Healthy Stepfamilies: Twenty Families Tell Their Stories. New York: Haworth. 104 pp. Paperback ISBN 1-56023-866-6, price $9.95.

Once upon a time, Patricia Kelley (and graduate student Patricia Kostel) conducted a study of stepfamilies. The 20 families included 83 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and steprelatives. Fourteen of the stepfamilies felt they were strong and healthy. The other six families were seeing a counselor or therapist. It was a good study, but the families had shared so much in their videotaped interviews that the research report could not contain that richness. So Patricia Kelly wrote this book.

Consistent with its advertising, the most significant contribution of this book is a refreshing focus on health and strengths in stepfamilies instead of on seeing stepfamilies as an aberration of the norm. Kelley assumes that stepfamilies can function well, but that their needs and coping strategies are different from first-marriage families. In order to identify some of those unique strategies, the book addresses issues of special interest to stepfamilies: discipline, family roles, money management, relationship management, family rituals and traditions, and suggestions for others. In each case, the author reviews existing literature and adds examples and suggestions from stepfamilies.

One concern with this book is a question faced by much of the family strengths literature: What is a strong family? Kelley seems to be reluctant to address any problems because of the desire to focus on strengths and health. …

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