Step-parenting - Often Times a Struggle

The Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It to Beaver conception of family life that many Americans cherish as the model of domestic life now gives way to the Brady Bunch -- the stepfamily, or the blended family, as it is called. This transformation has been underway for the past forty years. Today, nearly one-third of weddings in the United States create a stepfamily, and some social scientists believe that someday stepfamilies will be the dominant form of family in America. Some experts predict that one-half of Americans will have a step-relationship at some point in their lifetime.

Stepfamilies, single-parent families, cohabiting couples with or without children, childless marriages -- all now embellish the mosaic of family life in America today. The 1990 census revealed that only 21 percent of households in America "consisted of a married couple residing with their own children, the "traditional’ family."

The stepfamily, which is loosely defined as a marriage where one spouse brings at least one child from a previous relationship, comes freighted with baggage, often intensified by the child’s allegiance to the missing biological parent and the circumstances of the stepfamily’s creation (through divorce or death of a parent). Spouses who rebound into a second marriage with stepchildren often find disappointment that things don’t go smoothly, and home life sinks into a moor of anger, sadness, frustrations, jealousy, hurt feelings, anxiety over a parent sharing love with others, and guilt in preferring a stepparent to a biological parent.

Sadly, however, many couples who bring children from a previous marriage to a second marriage (or third) find that their past booby-traps their new relationship from the start. About 60 per cent of all second remarriages also fail, and these are the ones with stepfamilies: more than 70 percent of remarriages involving children end in dissolution within five and one half years, according to the "Bonded Family".



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