EP: 127


Realistic Expectations for Successful Stepfamilies with Mary T. Kelly

The divorce rate among couples in second marriages with kids is somewhere between 64% and 72%. And part of the reason is that stepfamilies face unique challenges and may not have a realistic picture of just how long it takes for stepparents and stepchildren to get comfortable with each other.

Mary T. Kelly, M.A. is the marriage and family psychotherapist behind Real Stepfamilies, a platform designed to educate, normalize and offer practical solutions for the complexities of being part of a blended family. Her private practice in Boulder, Colorado, focuses on helping step-couples and stepfamilies, and she has 18-plus years of clinical experience in the space. Mary also runs support groups for stepmothers and serves as a contributing writer for Huffington Post and Stepmom Magazine.

On this episode, Mary joins Katherine to discuss the unique challenges faced by combined families with nonbiological members. She explains what’s behind the cultural stereotype of the ‘evil stepmother’ and describes the unrealistic expectations we have for what our blended family will look like. Listen in for Mary’s insight on establishing a good stepparent-stepchild relationship and learn what new stepfamilies can do to ease the transition for all involved.


Why the solutions counselors use for nuclear families don’t work for stepfamilies

What’s behind the cultural stereotype of the ‘evil stepmother’

The competing priorities of being a parent, a spouse and a stepparent simultaneously

The challenge in taking on the role of stepmother when you don’t have kids of your own

The therapeutic value of having camaraderie with other stepmoms

What we can do to ease the transition for married couples with kids

Establishing realistic expectations for what your blended family will look like

The pressure some women put on themselves to be the ‘best stepmom ever’

Why it’s crucial for couples in second marriages to set a regular date night

Why men tend to be more permissive with their kids post-divorce

Mary’s insight on what a good stepparent-stepchild relationship looks like


Real Stepfamilies

Call (303) 594-5240


The Center for Understanding Conflict

Miller Law Group

Katherine on LinkedIn

The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller

Email katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

Call (914) 738-7765


Mary’s Meetup for Stepmoms