In an era when teachers commonly report that up to half of the children in their classes come from multiple homes and have multiple caretakers, the special psychological challenges of step-parenting have never been in greater need of examination. As thoughtful clinicians have long known, step-parenting is among the most complicated of psychological projects: it may simultaneously be a multi-faceted burden and a spur to personal autonomy, deepened sensitivity to others, and newfound competence as a nurturer. Among the thousands of divorced people who remarry each year, most - despite their best resolve to live in the present - persist in reassessing the price of separation, especially as they come to appreciate the fact that divorce is seldom a total break for their children. This work is a comprehensive exploration of the process of reconstructing families. More specifically, it is a book about the perils and promise of step-parenting, a caretaking role that may be more challenging than biologically given child rearing. Contributors follow people as they try to reevaluate past misunderstandings and acclimate to new parenting contexts and obligations.
Editors Stanley Cath and Moisy Shopper offer a balanced purview that includes both successful and maladaptive instances of step-parenting. Of special note are the clinical examples throughout the book that chart the extended periods of slow, creative learning experienced by parents and children, biological and step, as they test the waters of new family systems and try to elicit newly attuned responses from each another. Encompassing the developmental, clinical, cultural, and forensic dimensions of becoming and being a step-parent, this book is a comprehensive examination of the topic that is psychodynamically grounded and aimed at a broad professional readership. Suitable for psychoanalytic therapists, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and family therapists, this book should also be profitable, timely reading for educators and social scientists studying the evolution of family life in contemporary American society.
Stanley H. Cath, M.D., is Medical Director of the Family Advisory Service and Treatment Center, Belmont, Massachusetts, and Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Cath is senior coeditor of Father and Child: Developmental and Clinical Perspectives (1982) and Fathers and Their Families (Analytic Press, 1989).
Moisy Shopper, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry and Pediatrics, St. Louis University School of Medicine, and Training and Supervising Analyst (child and adult), St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.