From Dr. Jane's Notebook


Stepfamily Living: When did things get so complicated?


Marriage and remarriage are complex relationships these days. Statistics show that half to two-thirds of all first marriages end in divorce. The United States has the highest remarriage rate in the world, and the redivorce rates are even higher. Remarriage often involves children from previous marriages, and statistics indicate that half of the children whose parents divorce and remarry, will experience a second parental divorce. As stepfamily living becomes more common (one in five families does it!), it becomes even more important to understand it. Here are a few thoughts from family researchers.

Although remarriages have the potential to be just as satisfying as first marriages, some important differences should be noted. Childrearing in remarriages calls for some changes in our approach to parenting. Adolescents in remarriages are often more depressed, more worried about finances and future career, and have lower self-esteem. Research on remarried families indicates that a more permissive attitude toward childrearing increases self-esteem and reduces stress in adolescents. So while permissive parenting usually has negative effects on teenagers in intact families, it can have positive effects in remarried families. Adolescents in remarried families respond well to a combination of independence, low parental control, and high warmth. For those who plan to remarry, these may be an important keys to your family's success.

ęCopyright, 1994, 1996, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated December 26, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.