From Library Journal
In this fascinating report on the first major study of stepfamilies to date, Bray (family medicine, Baylor Coll. of Medicine) takes a deep look into the workings of this relatively new family unit and identifies three general types: the Neotraditional, the Matriarchal, and the Romantic. The results?formed with expertise gathered from Bray's clinical practice and through a National Institute of Health study he conducted over a nine-year period with 100 stepfamilies and 100 nuclear families as subjects?find that Neotraditional stepfamilies, which eventually look somewhat like traditional nuclear families, have the best success surviving the trials and disappointments of stepfamily life, while Romantics either fail or develop into other kinds of stepfamilies, and Matriarchals see varying degrees of success. This thorough and intelligent book, with its careful consideration of the reasons why over half of the stepfamilies don't succeed and its inspiring insight into how stepfamilies that work do it, will be very welcome in all libraries.?Rebecca Miller, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A handbook for blended families that offers some substantive advice, based on a 10-year longitudinal study by Bray, presented with the help of Kelly (co-author, The Secret Life of an Unborn Child, not reviewed). As a clinical psychologist, Bray (Family Medicine/Baylor Coll. of Medicine) worked frequently with stepfamilies and knew that up to 60 percent of second marriages that include stepchildren do not succeed. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, he recruited 200 families--all Texas-based, generally white and middle or working class, with a biological mother and a stepfather as the family core--in a search for information about why this is so. He found each family unique in its struggle to create a close-knit and loving home but was able to identify three general categories and three stages that predict the degree of success. The categories are the Neotraditional family, where husbands and wives emphasize the relationship rather than themselves; the Romantic family, least likely to succeed because expectations are unrealistic; and the Matriarchal family, where the mother is highly competent and dominant. All stepfamilies, whatever their type, follow a pattern of ups and downs, according to Bray. As with a first marriage, the first two years, when children and adults are sorting out their relationships and coming to terms with shadows of the first marriages, are the hardest. The next three or four years are more tranquil as compromises have been made, but the third cycle can see stress and conflict again, as children and parents endure adolescence. One major obstacle to the emerging stepfamily: stepparents who move too quickly to take over the parental role. Detailed and evocative case histories illuminate discussions of these various landmarks in stepfamilies lives, including the sometimes disruptive but vital role of former spouses. A step up for stepfamilies, who may not fit exactly into the pigeonholes described but can take comfort and guidance from Bray's findings. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.