Professionals working with families at any stage of their life-cycle are likely to find that an understanding of stepfamily issues helps them in their practice. The feelings aroused and the tensions and strains experienced in step-families are not confined to those raising children, as many adults who have experienced parents repartnering in later life will know. There are important issues to be addressed in relation to stepfamilies of all ages and at different points in their life-cycle; for example, stepfamily obligations in caring for elderly relatives in the extended kinship networks (Bornat et al., 1999). However, an understanding of such issues is of particular value to all of us working with children and families in the field of social care since we are bound sometimes to work with stepfamily members. Even if the crux of a problem or difficulty is not centred on a stepfamily issue, an understanding of the particular stresses and strengths of stepfamilies will positively inform our practice.
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