Module Family Reconstitution

Experiencing family reconstitution: challenges tinged with lights and shadows.

In this module, we analyse the reconstituted family structure. This family modality, in its different forms, is increasingly common in today's society. Despite this, little is known about the elements that favour positive and successful relationships among its members, which can help ensure its stability and permanence.

"The main feature of reconstitution is its structural and functional complexity".

Many factors affect directly or indirectly the dynamics of these families. The history that precedes and accompanies family members; the social myths about these families’ chances of success and about the figures of stepfathers, stepmothers and stepchildren; the need to harmonize the dynamics of two or more households that should function independently, but at the same time, in coordination; are just a few examples of the complexity of reconstituted families. Therefore, it is important to have a better understanding of the challenges that accompany family reconstitution and how to deal with them in a satisfactory way.

Our proposal:

This module offers an opportunity to analyze the dynamics of reconstituted families, to underline some aspects that, if not resolved well, can affect their stability. Special emphasis is placed on offering strategies that help to successfully overcome some of the challenges that accompany this family modality.

The module is organized in two sessions. Each one presents different activities that you can carry out at your own pace, since it is not necessary to develop them at one time. However, it is advisable to do them in the order in which they are shown to you, since some activities follow a consecutive organization in their contents.

The topics covered in the module are as follows:

Session 1: "When the new family starts being something more than you and me." It reflects on positive ways of reconstituting the new family, on ways to successfully perform the roles of stepmother and stepfather, and on how to act to strengthen the relationship of the new couple.

Session 2: "Feeling like a family despite the complexity". It reflects on how children experience reconstitution, and how adults should act to favour relationships between family members and for the development of identity as a family.


Did you know...

  • In the next decade, the reconstituted family structure could be the majority in society (Pryor, 2014). 1
  • The concept of stepmother is associated with a negative image from children's fairy tales (Snow White, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel...).
  • Some percentages indicate that in 71% of cases, it is the woman who brings children, in 25.6% the man, and in the remaining 3.4%, both (Diario 20 minutos, 2016).2
  • 67% of adolescents whose mother has a new partner say "they get along with the partner", but only 49% state they get along well with their father's new partner (UNAF, 2015).
  • The divorce rate in second marriages is higher than in first marriages.
  • The roles that children and young people attribute to stepparents are similar to those attributed to a father and a mother, confirming their lack of specificity (Plasencia and Triana, 2017).3
  • This family model becomes more and more visible in the media (e.g., the singer Alicia Keys incorporates, in her album Here (2016), a song on the subject entitled "Blended Family (What you do for love)".

Plasencia, S. and Triana, B. (2017). Fathers and Mothers vs. Stepfathers and Stepmothers: Similar Functions? Communication presented at the 5th International Congress of Educational Sciences and Development, Santander (Spain), May 2017.

Data extracted from an article published by the Diario 20 minutos, on May 17, 2016. (See news)

Pryor, J. (2014). Stepfamilies: A global perspective on Research, Policy and Practice. New YorK: Routledge.


To promote among the participants a greater knowledge of the structural, and consequently, the functional complexity of reconstituted families.

Encourage reflection among participants on how different family members can experience family reconstitution.

Facilitate positive ways of acting that help the participants to face certain challenges that can be found in their daily lives, in order to promote family dynamics that are more satisfactory for all.

Encourage participants to exchange and share experiences, emotions and positive ways of resolving possible difficulties that may arise with other people who have also experienced family reconstitution.

User profile

The module is aimed, in particular, at adults, men and women, who live in a reconstituted family structure, in any of its modalities, involving descendants of one or both partners, from previous relationships that ended in breakup. Most of the proposed activities can also be useful for those who have an upcoming project to form a reconstituted family. In addition, although some activities may not respond to personal situations, due to the heterogeneity of situations and family structures, they may serve to better understand possible experiences that may occur in the future.