Guest Blogger

Patricia Papernow

Patricia Papernow

Dr. Patricia Papernow is widely recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on "blended families" and post-divorce parenting. Patricia is in her fourth decade of working with, learning about, and teaching others about stepfamily relationships. Her groundbreaking new book, Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn’t is available at amazon and on her web site,

Patricia is a psychologist in private practice, Clinical Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and a member of the National Stepfamily Resource Center Experts Council. She is the author of many articles and book chapters about stepfamilies and is often interviewed by national and local media. Her 1993 book, Becoming a Stepfamily, remains one of the classics in the field.

Patricia and her second husband, Steve, have been together for almost 18 years. Patricia has a daughter from her first marriage who is now 30. Her three stepchildren from this marriage are in their forties, now married and the parents of 6 grandkids between them.


Blog Posts by Patricia Papernow


    Holidays in “Blended Families”: Making Holidays Ties That Bind, not Ties That Break

    Scheduling, Scheduling, Scheduling. What Are We to Do? Stepfamilies include at least one parent in another household. This fact can make holiday scheduling daunting. Because both mom and dad want to be with their children, tension between ex-spouses over these arrangements can ruin many a holiday for post-divorce children. Most children care much more about […]

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    Meeting the Challenge of Becoming a Team

    As I said in last post, parents and stepparents do have different roles. However, they do still need to become a team, supporting each other, helping each other, and working together. Parents do need to retain the disciplinary role. Meanwhile, stepparents have input, and parents have final say. Often parents need help making firmer demands […]

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    Parenting and Discipline in “Blended Families”

    Parents and stepparents feel differently about kids. Stepparents, even if they care about their stepkids, do not begin with a deeply established heart connection with them. Furthermore, habits, values, and everyday routines are shared between kids and their parents, not between stepparents and stepkids, or in the stepcouple. If stepkids are struggling, one or more […]

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    Insiders and Outsiders

    Stepmother: When your kids are here, I might as well be a piece of furniture. Dad: But they’re my kids, what do you expect? Stepmother: I expect you to treat me like I’m your wife! Dad: How many times have I told you, don’t make me choose! In a stepfamily, even though the new couple […]

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    From Enemies to Intimates

    Becoming a stepfamily is a process, not an event. It takes time, counted not in days or months, but years. My experience, corroborated by the research, is that even “fast” families take a couple of years to begin to feel some shared sense of “how we do things.” It takes another couple of years to […]

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    Helping Stepkids to Thrive

    A stepfamily is a fundamentally different structure upon which to build intimate relationships than a first-time family. The familiar phrase “blended families” does not prepare stepcouples for the challenges this structure creates. Advice abounds on the web. However, much of it is well meaning but misleading. The good news is that decades of research and […]

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