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Don’t Be Fooled: There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Family

As stepcouples, does it sometimes feel as though other so-called “normal” families are better off? Do you sometimes observe them and feel jealous of the way they appear to interact—to talk and play and laugh—so naturally and comfortably? And, as a result, does this comparison make you feel as though your stepfamily were somehow worse?

I used to watch “normal” families and conclude that they had no problems, and that because my stepfamily was “different,” we were the one with problems. Extended family gatherings gave me plenty of opportunity to envy “normal” families, which always left me feeling depressed, alone, and incompetent.

With few stepfamily models to learn from, we felt alone and uneasy in how to build our stepfamily. And comparing ours to “normal” families didn’t help. But, in time, I learned that there is no such thing as a family that is normal or perfect; that all families face their own unique set of challenges. Comparisons, of course, are only relative to who’s doing the comparing.

Today, now that our five children are grown, some with children of their own, I can look back and appreciate that, while our family has never been “normal,” it is pretty darned great. Life is a journey, after all—for all families. True: the stepcoupling and stepfamily journey is one of the most challenging. But it’s worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears, no matter how “abnormal” and difficult it may seem.

As a stepcouple, can you and your partner think of activities, traditions, or experiences that you particularly cherish in your stepfamily?  Anything that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy counts.

Susan Wisdom LPC

July 12, 2010

Please share your experiences and thoughts.

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3 responses to “Don’t Be Fooled: There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Family”

  1. Tia says:

    What a nice reminder to all of us that no one is perfect…especially those that appear to be!

  2. Jennifer says:

    It’s so nice to have an article to reassure us on the fact that nothing is truly “normal” anymore! I was having doubts about a year before I married my husband because of issues we had to deal with regarding his sons and his ex-wife. And I thought about my life, childhood, teenage, and college years and the challenges I put my parents through and realized that whether it’s a “traditional” family or not, there will ALWAYS be issues. I might not be able to relate to my “mom” friends since I’m a stepmom, but I love my stepsons just the same, whether people recognize me as a “real” mom or not.

    The majority of the time we sit down to dinner at our kitchen table as a family. Only on scout nights do we have a more informal dinner. We now are in the routine of being polite and using our manners with each other because it’s the respectful and kind thing to do. We have board game nights once a week as well as a movie night one night a week. The boys know when they’re at our house that their homework must be done before doing anything else. We’ve settled into routines, and those routines make everyone happy and comfortable. :)

  3. Susan Wisdom says:

    Jennifer – Thanks so much for sharing your stories of your very “normal” stepfamily. You are doing a great job of teaching and caring for your stepsons when they are in your home. You are working towards creating confidence and warm memories of their childhood. That’s the best we can give. Keep it up!

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