The traditional and strictest definition of a "stepfamily" is a married couple where one or both members of the couple have pre-existing children who live with them. More recently, the definition is often expanded to include all cohabiting couples, whether married or not. Some people also apply the term to non-custodial relationships, where "stepparent" can refer to the partner of a parent with whom the child does not live. The term is not generally used (but can be in individual cases) to refer to the relationship with an adult child who never lived in the home with the parent's new partner.
Children in a one parent family often feel threatened when their parent is dating as the parent is looking for a prospective spouse. The prospective spouse can often feel threatened as the children become part of the package within the relationship. Stepfamilies can sometimes find it difficult to feel like a family as the spouse may not feel equal to the children due to the fact that a biological parent and their biological child have a stronger bond which is separate from the marriage.
- "Selfhelp Magazine". Adopting.org. Retrieved 2010-08-11.[permanent dead link]
- "adopting.org". adopting.org. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
- National Stepfamily Resource Center Archived 26 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Fine, Mark A., U Missouri, Dept of Human Development & Family Studies, Columbia, US Kurdek, Lawrence A, June, 1995 ’Relation between marital quality and (step)parent-child relationship quality for parents and stepparents in stepfamilies’, Journal of Family Psychology, Vol 9(2),. pp. 216-223, 19/05/2011.