Mom, stepmom, Certified Stepfamily Counsellor & Registered Social Worker
Dianne Martin

 Welcome -   StepFamily Harmony Blog 

Stepparenting is a challenging, confusing, joyful, and growth promoting life long journey.  It is also a vastly different experience in contrast to that of the intact biological family. 
My hope is that stepparents, stepchilden of all ages, single parents planning to remarry, and others seeking information will find ideas and suggestions in the blog and links will help and inspire them to map their unique stepparenting journey.  
Take care!

Dianne Martin
June 23, 2012                         Note: Several early blog posts have been significantly revised.   

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Experts say children with stepparents are more troubled

CHILDREN of divorced couples who live with a step-parent are at increased risk of mental health problems, a study has found.

Teenagers living with a stepfather or stepmother were more troubled than those who split their time between parents.

They reported more symptoms of mental health problems, such as depression and dishonesty, and more bullying at school.

Experts have previously suggested it was better for children from broken homes to have a step-parent, because it offers greater financial stability and another authority figure. However, children also face the stress of a ‘new family structure’, according to Norwegian researchers.

As you read this article ask yourself these two important questions:

1) If the adults were adequately prepared for the stepfamily journey would the children have fared better?

2) Are family therapists, social workers and other professionally have sufficient knowledge about stepfamily developmental processes, dynamics and interventions to help stepfamilies -- adults and children -- navigate the stepfamily journey?

The study ........

PHOTO:  Nathan Chang, Upsplash


Posted by: administratorON Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 11:11:33 pm MST

We can no longer ignore the facts:

Children residing in stepfamilies face a higher risk of being the victims of violence in contrast to children who reside with their biological parents. 

The following brief review of the professional research illustrates that stepchildren can be are at risk of horrific violence and even death. The articles also suggests the following:

  1. Pre-remarriage preparation programs for stepparents and single parents planning to remarry, and
  2. Training family service professional in appropriate stepfamily therapy techniques

These two options that may decrease the incidences of violence against stepchildren.

Posted by: administratorON Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 11:52:26 am MDT
Are You Addicted to Sex?

Not really. In fact, my hope is that people with a strong interest in sex find healthy ways to indulge and enjoy that interest. It is only when a behavior gets out of control and causes consequences that we start to think about addiction. Sex addiction has nothing whatsoever to do with who or what it is that turns a person on. The simple truth is that sex addiction is not defined by how much sex or even the type of sex a person has, just as alcoholism is not defined by how much you drink or what kind of alcohol you consume. The defining factor—for all addictions—is how the activity affects your life. If someone is preoccupied to the point of obsession with sexual fantasy and activity—solo or with others, has repeatedly tried and failed to quit or cut back, and is experiencing negative consequences as a result, that raises red flags for sexual addiction. Otherwise, sex addiction is probably not the issue.

What led you to write this book?


Posted by: administratorON Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 1:48:30 pm MST

I find it very interesting in watching this new program, Fear The Walking Dead that describes a "dysfunctional blended family"

What are I observed is a typical stepfamily, coping with typical stepfamily issues. The one exception is not a teenage boy appears

to have addiction issues -- which is not a typical issue -- but of course it does happen..

The stepcouple obviously moved in together recently sharing some very passionate kisses. And then there was the teenage stepdaughter 
ccoming out of the bathroom dressed in only a towel.

Given that this is a complex stepfamily with teenagers, it suggests that there are boundary issues that need to be addressed.

Furthermore we noticed that the teenage son who is living with his mother reluctant to visit his father and his new stepfamily - sound familiar

It is programs like these perpetuate the dysfunctional stereotype's about  stepfamilies. When in fact the TV  family is simply struggling with normal developmental issues.


When you watch television programs, it might be helpful to firstly adopt a critical view and secondly use this opportunity to educate others that what they are seeing a normal--albeit-- difficult stepfamily dynamics are normal.  Your actions will help to stigmatize stepfamilies.



Dianne Martin, Mom and Stepmom

March 13, 2016




Posted by: administratorON Sun, Mar 13, 2016 at 5:09:23 pm MDT

Merry Christmas



It has been a long time since I wrote.  Life had gotten very complicated over the past two years as David and I struggled to cope with his cancer.  As a full time caregiver, my outside and social media activities have shrunk considerably as my focus shifted to David.


 Howevear, Santa was listening for David's Christmas wish.  Here is what happened.......


Hearing that her Stepdad wanted a traditional family inspired Christmas and knowing she could not be with us on December 25, my Daughter jumped into action and planned  a pre-Christmas Christmas - how wonderful is that?


A week prior to Christmas, she arrived in Nanaimo.   Laden with containers, pots 'n pans, boxes, spices and gayly wrapped packages.  She rented a motel suite with a fully equipped kitchen to work some magic.  Her first stop was our kitchen where she whipped up a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Returning to the motel, she tucked herself away and proceeded to heat up the kitchen:  burners and ovens, beaters and mixers all going full bore.  The result:  a fabulous - and traditional pork pie - for our pre-Christmas Eve event.  Her culinary skills and attention to detail - outstanding!!


The next morning it was a French inspired Christmas bunch elegantly set up in her motel dinette.  I could get accustomed to this - I always have  maintained that one can never have toooooo many Christmas celebrations in any given year.


My Daughter's culinary skills shown brightly as later on she whipped up another delicious pre-Christmas Day Christmas Dinner.  The Christmas lights were shining, the presents beckoning,  as we supped and sipped with family and friends. We opened the gifts and enjoyed more Christmas Cheer.  David laid down as need and it was nice to know that he was able to participate - albeit from the bedroom.  But he did get up and ate a hearty dinner.


When a stepchild loves his or her stepparent this much they truly embody the Spirit of Christmas through their caring,  generosity and loving selflessness. The best gift a stepparent will ever receive.


David and I also celebrated our 31 wedding anniversary on December 22, it was pretty low key, as David wasn't up to going out.  It was lovely and romantic with the fire going, candles lit and lights twinkling on the tree. We reminisced about previous celebrations at the Banff Springs Hotel, The Empress in Victoria, Tofino, England and Venice - so many wonderful, happy memories.


The December 24th Christmas Eve was spend quietly at home, with Mom. We sampled some wine-- well to be honest, David enjoyed a  rum and coke--while we--oops make that me--finished wrapping gifts.  After Church on the 25th, David, Mom and I  gathered up boxes and bags, and cookies and tarts and headed off to  my sister's home for Christmas Dinner, prezzies and Christmas Cheer.  Again the dinner was outstanding, with all the traditional fixings, the house was beautifully decorated and bursting with gifts.


Our Grandson - 11 yrs - is with us for Christmas so it was extra special as both he and my Mom - out from Ontario - were with us this year which rounded out my husband's wish for a family Christmas.  It wasf truly a magical stepfamily Christmas.


Why was this Christmas so Special?


Two years ago at Christmas, David was seriously ill.  It was only after his neck broke in early January, that he was  diagnosed  with Multiple Myeloma which is a rare form of blood/blood marrow cancer. The following year just before Christmas, my oldest and dearest friend unexpectedly died. She brought much laughter and light into our lives.  Sadly another family member also passed away a month before Christmas.   So the last two Christmas's were overshadowed by grief, fear, loss and heartach. 


This year, David--smaller, weaker but always optimistic-- expressed a desire to come together with family and friends to enjoy the holiday season. To  share stories from Christmas's past, enjoy home baked goodies and  celebrate the season in the loving warmth of his family.


Not knowing what next year would bring, I too wanted to enjoy this Christmas - to have another golden moment with David to remember and cherish. 


 So it was with inspired help and loving support from our family that we fulfilled David's Christmas Wish

it was a magical Christmas

We are truly blessed


Wishing each and every one of you a truly happy and joyful Christmas and holiday season.


Blessings to all


Dianne -

December 26, 2015

Posted by: administratorON Sat, Dec 26, 2015 at 2:41:19 pm MST

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We know that living in the stepfamily is a very complicated situation.  And it is highly confusing and discombobulating for our kids as well.



I was reading another article or blog where the author referred to blended families .  Well  most of you know my thoughts about using the term blended instead of step.



Blended suggest that the process is easy and that everyone will just fit together without any lumps bumps or unsightly clumps that occur.



Well we all know that ain't going to true! 



Stepfamilies are all about colliding desires and conflicting needs -  which leave bumps, bruises, and wounded hearts.




So for example a four-year-old  is moving into a stepfamily. She will have a stepmother or stepfather she will have a stepbrother, or stepsister and they will be called stepsiblings.




She did not have a blended mother or a blended father she does not have a blended sister or blended brother.  So why or why is her family called a blended family???? Why is this--or any other-- child  entering a stepfamly be confused by our self inflicted identify crisis?




Wouldn't be ever so much easier for children if we used consistency in our terms?



Yes , unfortunatgely there are a host of negative stereotypical ideas about stepfamilies.



A sense of stigma attached to the term stepmom... we have our fairy tails and folklore to blame for the stigmatization of stepfamilies.  So best stop kids from hearing or reading fairy tales.


But it's time we stood up to be counted, to be proud of who we are and to put aside our identity conflicts and proudly proclaimed that we are


Stepparents, stepmom, stepdad, stepbrothers stepsisters,

step-grandparents and step-aunties and step-uncles.


Take care my Friends

Dianne Martin - Stepmom and Advocate

March 13, 2016

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Telephone 250- 619-9555


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