Most appropriate for therapists, this level-headed, knowing discussion covers much of the territory explored for a popular audience in books like Anne Simon's Stepchild in the Family, Leslie Westoff's The Second Time Around, and Jean and Veryl Rosenbaums' Stepparenting. The Vishers, stepparents and psychotherapists, identify the cultural and emotional obstacles that make blended families such precarious unions and suggest fundamental goals for treatment. Fairy tales have already established the stepmother's tricky position--try to think of a wicked stepfather--and TV has further distorted expectations in simpy representations like The Brady Bunch or Eight Is Enough. For those involved, small irritants, such as too few lines on school forms, can exacerbate already tense situations springing from conflicting sets of table manners or, more frequently, not enough money. The Vishers observe these common impasses from several perspectives (the woman's, the man's, the child's), note that adult offspring can feel as betrayed as young children, and demonstrate why the stepfamily's goals differ from those of a nuclear family. Furthermore, without championing any particular family therapist, they specify treatment aims and methods, indicate the track records of several stepparenting groups, and consider the individual therapist's role--from spotting a few dents in the chassis to recommending a complete overhaul. Stepparents can benefit from the 'case histories of uneasy balances and disrupted alliances, and from the correctives and resolutions 'offered to achieve order and unity, but the text is primarily addressed to therapists.