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Stepfamilies find ‘blend’ satisfying, not as expected
4 in 10 report having step-relative
It found that, regardless of step-relationships, most adults were “very satisfied” with their lives — 78 percent with no step-relatives and 70 percent with step-relatives said this.
But when it came to feeling “obligated” to provide assistance to a family member, blood ties clearly won out.
Among adults with both a parent and stepparent, 85 percent said they would feel “very obligated” to help their parent, but just 56 percent said they would feel the same about their stepparent.
Similarly, when asked about children and siblings, the strongest obligations were felt toward biological children (78 percent) and full siblings (64 percent) compared to stepchildren (62 percent) or half-siblings (42 percent).
No doubt, these different attitudes stem from the unique challenges of blending families.
Remarriage means the “incorporation of new kin and quasi-kin” into the nuclear and extended families, and yet there are “ill-defined roles for these new relationships,” Census Bureau analyst Diana B. Elliott said in a 2010 paper on remarriage.
Given these intrinsic difficulties — plus higher divorce rates among remarriages and lower satisfaction with relationships reported by many new wives — one could even expect that remarriage would be “an unattractive option for Americans today,” Ms. Elliott wrote. Yet, “[M]any Americans continue to remarry, and may even remarry multiple times,” she said.
“Some stepfamily experts say it takes seven years for a stepfamily to blend,” said Paula Bisacre, author, founder of Remarriageworks.com and former columnist for The Washington Times.
“My husband and I have often likened our stepfamily’s dynamics to American psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s ‘forming, storming, norming, performing’ model of group development,” Ms. Bisacre wrote. In other words, she wrote, like a sports team, a stepfamily has to “go through these stages for it to grow, tackle problems and identify solutions.”
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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor. Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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