The Remarkable Relationships Show

The Gifts of a Stepparent

Today my guest is my friend Beth. She is visiting me from Vermont where we have been friends for 30 years. In our show today, we are going to be talking about her stepfather, Guy Cheng, and his impact on her family and the community. Her brother is preparing a talk for the Charlotte Historical Society about Guy which has brought back rich memories of his legacy. This topic is particularly interesting to me, apart from my own memories of Guy and Beth’s family. In my family, my grandmother was married three times. Her second husband, my mother’s stepfather, was the only grandfather I knew. He was a college professor and brought education and cultural traditions into her life and my family. My grandmother’s third husband was a retired engineer who brought financial security, a sense of adventure and travel and kindness to our family. After my parents’ divorce, my father remarried. My stepmother’s personality, experience, sense of humor, and three children expanded our family life in many ways. Divorce and stepparents get a bad rap in our religions, culture and society. Very few marry with the intention of getting divorced. Yet, as biological creatures, we are serially monogamous. Many humans can form emotional and reproductive bonds with more than one partner after the disruption of a prior partnership. (Some are more like swans and mate for life.) There are adaptive advantages to successive mates with different traits. These mates bring a broader range of resources into the family which gives children more options for facing unknown environmental challenges in the future. This is the evolutionary biological perspective. We are going to talk today about a second marriage and step parenting that provided emotional stability, humor, creativity and joy to a young family. Whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs, I propose that blended family life can be uplifting and inspiring.