Blended families face unique challenges, and pediatricians can assist these parents and children by providing specific education that will help improve family relationships and expectations.
- 55% are African American families
- 39% are white families
- 36% are Hispanic families
PROMOTING STRONG, STABLE FAMILIES
- Stepparents need support and education to lead a successful stepfamily and help break the cycle of divorce. The marriage must be strong to endure the many pressures stepfamilies face, thus providing a backbone of family stability.
- Stepchildren, especially those who have lived through a parental divorce, need to witness and learn from a healthy marital relationship.
- Stepchildren benefit greatly when a stepfamily grows into a bonded, low-conflict family unit centered in a stable marriage.
If a child’s biological parents have divorced, that child is roughly twice as likely to divorce in the future as a child from an intact family. (3)
If the child marries another stepchild, the divorce risk is three times higher.(4)
The child’s future divorce risk increases with repeated divorces of parent(s), and the general well-being of children decreases as the number of marital transitions increases.(5)
When step couples break the cycle of divorce by remaining married, this increases a child’s likelihood of a future stable marriage when they marry and increases the well-being of their children. (6)
Children of healthy stepfamilies tend to have the quality of their own marriages more closely mirror the stepfamily’s healthy marriage than the poor-quality marriage that ended in divorce.(7)
Closeness with either a biological father or stepfather is associated with a decrease in the likelihood that an adolescent boy will someday divorce.(8)
A 10-year longitudinal study of stepfamilies in America revealed that a loving, well-functioning stepfamily over time can negate many of the detrimental psychological impacts of divorce on children.(9)
Increased stress level
The average step couple has about three times as much stress as married couples of non-blended families.(10)
Research shows that it often takes five to seven years of marriage for the tension levels of a step couple’s relationship to decrease to the level found in most first marriages. (10)
Prep for forming a blended family
Most couples in stepfamilies don’t seek premarital preparation. Less than 25% of step couples-to-be in a series of studies sought relationship or educational opportunities to discuss their upcoming marriage. Less than half read a book or magazine article about remarriage or step parenting. (11)
Premarital preparation can reduce the risk of divorce by 30%. (12)
Importance of parental unity
A study of more than 1,000 children in stepfather households found that children are better able to adapt to changes brought on by the introduction of a stepfather, and are more open to connecting with him emotionally, if they see a strong, united, and cooperative alliance between their mother and stepfather. (13)
This conversation should occur as soon as is possible when dealing with blended families.
This conversation involves the parents in blended family situations.
If possible, talk to the parents before the marriage occurs.
After the marriage, talk to the parents about the following topics:
Make sure the new parents are working together as a parental team.
Talk to the parents about helping their children work through difficult emotions.
If children transition between households, it is crucial to strive toward good communication with your ex-spouse. Good cooperation between households typically results in well-disciplined and better adjusted children. Ex-spouses who communicate well and cooperate on behalf of their children are also contributing to the success of the second marriage. Put your differences aside and focus on being good parents for your children.