001

Table of Contents
 
Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedication
Foreword
Preface
Contributors
Acknowledgements
Introduction
 
SECTION I - INTERNATIONAL, DEMOGRAPHIC, AND CULTURAL CONTEXTS
 
CHAPTER 1 - The Demography of Stepfamilies in the United States
 
MEASURING STEPFAMILIES
PREVALENCE OF STEPFAMILIES AND STEPCHILDREN
PROCESSES LEADING TO THE FORMATION OF STEPFAMILIES
SOME INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 2 - Stereotypes of Stepfamilies and Stepfamily Members
 
WHERE DO STEP STEREOTYPES COME FROM?
EMPIRICAL STUDIES OF STEPFAMILY STEREOTYPES
MULTIPLE STEREOTYPES OF STEPPARENTS
IMPLICATIONS OF STEPPARENT STEREOTYPES
LIMITATIONS OF PAST RESEARCH AND DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 3 - Stepfamilies in France Since the 1990s: An Interdisciplinary Overview
 
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND ON STEPFAMILIES IN FRANCE
THE DEMOGRAPHY OF STEPFAMILIES, 1990-199
ETHNOGRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN STEPFAMILY MEMBERS IN THE 1990S
STEPFAMILIES AND THE LAW
THE EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY OF STEPFAMILIES WORLDWIDE
FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH: OUTCOMES OF CHILDREN OF STEPFAMILIES
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 4 - The Social Context of Emerging Stepfamilies in Japan: Stress and ...
 
THE JAPANESE STUDY
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 5 - Stepfathers in Cultural Context: Mexican American Families in the ...
 
FOCUSING ON THE STEPFATHER
FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO STEPFATHER INVOLVEMENT
MEXICAN AMERICAN FAMILIES AS A CASE STUDY IN CULTURAL CONTEXT
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
SECTION II - DYNAMICS WITHIN STEPFAMILY HOUSEHOLDS
CHAPTER 6 - Stepfathers in Families
 
DEFINING STEPFAMILIES AND STEPFATHERS
RESEARCH ON STEPFATHERS
THE U. K. NEW STEPFAMILIES STUDY
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 7 - Resident Mothers in Stepfamilies
 
HISTORIES OF MOTHERS NOW IN STEPFAMILIES
MENTAL HEALTH HISTORIES OF MOTHERS IN STEPFAMILIES
MOTHER-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS IN STEPFAMILIES
MOTHERING IN STEPFAMILIES
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 8 - Sibling Relationships in Blended Families
 
DEFINING VARIOUS SIBLING AND FAMILY TYPES
THEORIES OF SIBLING AND FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
RESEARCH FINDINGS REGARDING SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS IN BLENDED FAMILIES
A MODEL OF THE QUALITY OF SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS IN BLENDED FAMILIES
PRELIMINARY DATA PROBING THE MODEL
CONCLUSION AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 9 - Resident Parent-Child Relationships in Stepfamilies
 
HISTORICAL CLINICAL AND RESEARCH PERSPECTIVES ON PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS IN STEPFAMILIES
OUTCOMES FOR PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS IN STEPFAMILIES
THE IMPACT OF STEPFAMILY PROCESSES AND RELATIONSHIPS
FUTURE DIRECTIONS: RESEARCH AND CLINICAL PRACTICE
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 10 - A Longitudinal Examination of Marital Processes Leading to ...
 
OUR CONCEPTUAL MODEL
 
CHAPTER 11 - Children’s Appraisals of Relationships in Stepfamilies and First ...
 
FAMILY FACTORS AND CHILDREN’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT
FAMILY TRANSITION AND CHILDREN’S PSYCHOLOGICAL ADJUSTMENT: A BRIEF REVIEW
THE PRESENT STUDY
SAMPLE
MEAN COMPARISONS AND CORRELATION ANALYSIS
PATH ANALYSIS AND TESTS OF INDIRECT EFFECTS
DISCUSSION
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 12 - The Distribution of Household Tasks in First-Marriage Families and ...
 
A GENDERED DIVISION OF HOUSEHOLD TASKS
THE DIVISION OF HOUSEHOLD LABOR IN FIRST-MARRIAGE FAMILIES AND STEPFAMILIES
RESULTS
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 13 - Communication in Stepfamilies: Stressors and Resilience
 
THE PROCESSUAL AND MULTIDIMENSIONAL NATURE OF STEPFAMILIES
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
REFERENCES
 
SECTION III - INFLUENCES AND RELATIONSHIPS BEYOND THE HOUSEHOLD
CHAPTER 14 - Kinship in Stepfamilies
 
FAMILY AS KINSHIP
A CASE STUDY: MARK BURTON
CONCLUSION: KINSHIP SOLIDARITY AND COMMITMENT
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 15 - Children in Stepfamilies: Relationships with Nonresident Parents
 
HOW MUCH CONTACT DO CHILDREN HAVE WITH NONRESIDENT PARENTS?
WHAT FACTORS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH CHILDREN’S CONTACT WITH NONRESIDENT PARENTS?
DOES THE RELATIONSHIP WITH NONRESIDENT PARENTS MATTER FOR CHILDREN?
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 16 - The Diversity of Stepmothers: The Influences of Stigma, Gender, ...
 
DEMOGRAPHY OF STEPMOTHERHOOD
STEPMOTHER STIGMA
THE INFLUENCE OF THE MYTH OF MOTHERHOOD ON STEPMOTHER IDENTITIES
STEPMOTHER TYPOLOGIES
STEPFAMILY CONTEXT
STEPMOTHER RESEARCH: WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 17 - Intergenerational Relationships in Stepfamilies
 
DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
TYPES OF INTERGENERATIONAL STEP RELATIONSHIPS
RESEARCH ON STEP- GRANDPARENTS AND STEP- GRANDCHILDREN
GRANDPARENTS AND GRANDCHILDREN IN STEPFAMILIES
RELATIONSHIPS AMONG ADULT STEPCHILDREN AND OLDER STEPPARENTS
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
SECTION IV - CLINICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES
CHAPTER 18 - A Clinician’s View of “Stepfamily Architecture”: Strategies for ...
 
WHERE STEPFAMILIES START
STEPFAMILY ARCHITECTURE
NORMAL STEPFAMILY DEVELOPMENT: MEETING THE CHALLENGES OVER TIME
MATURE STEPFAMILY ARCHITECTURE
STRATEGIES THAT MEET THE CHALLENGES AND SUPPORT STEPFAMILY DEVELOPMENT
CLINICAL ASSESSMENT AND INTERVENTION
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 19 - Research on Interventions for Stepfamily Couples: The State of the Field
 
MARITAL FUNCTIONING AND DIVORCE IN REMARRIAGE AND STEPFAMILIES
CLINICAL INTERVENTIONS FOR STEPFAMILIES
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 20 - The Prevention and Treatment of Children’s Adjustment Problems in Stepfamilies
 
THE ADJUSTMENT OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN STEPFAMILIES
DESIGNING CHILD-FOCUSED INTERVENTIONS FOR STEPFAMILIES
TREATING CHILD BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN STEPFAMILIES
PREVENTION OF CHILD ADJUSTMENT PROBLEMS IN STEPFAMILIES
ISSUES AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS IN CHILD-FOCUSED STEPFAMILY INTERVENTIONS
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 21 - Legal Structures and Re-Formed Families: The New Zealand Example
 
BACKGROUND
THE ISSUES FOR LEGAL POLICY SPARKED BY FAMILY RE-FORMATION
MORE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS
THE NEW ZEALAND EXAMPLE
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 22 - How Relevant Are U.S. Family and Probate Laws to Stepfamilies?
 
U.S. FAMILY AND PROBATE LAW TRADITIONS
STATE VERSUS FEDERAL FAMILY LAW POLICIES AND THE STEPPARENT-STEPCHILD ...
STEPPARENT TRANSFORMATION INTO PARENT VIA STEPCHILD ADOPTION
THE IMPORTANCE OF FOSTERING MULTIPLE PARENTAL RELATIONSHIPS
DIVERSE LEGAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE STEPFAMILY POLICY PROPOSALS
LEGAL VERSUS SOCIAL SCIENCE REFORMS
CLOSING THOUGHTS
REFERENCES
 
CHAPTER 23 - Where to from Here? Stepfamilies and the Future
 
UBIQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND CHANGE
CHALLENGES FOR THE LAW
CONTEXTS OF STEPFAMILIES
CHALLENGES AND DIFFICULTIES FOR STEPFAMILIES
LOOKING FORWARD
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
REFERENCES
 
Author Index
Subject Index

001

This book is dedicated to Simon, Emily, and Esther, and to the
memory of Alexander.

Foreword
IN THE past, most stepfamilies were formed after the death of a parent. Today stepfamilies are more likely to be formed after a parental divorce or a nonmarital birth. Whatever the cause, stepfamilies are common because most people find it difficult to be single parents and long for a chance to find happiness with new partners. Stepfamilies represent new beginnings, opportunities to correct prior mistakes, and visions of a better future. Of course, the optimism of many parents is soon tempered by the everyday realities of stepfamily life—including children’s more skeptical views of these new unions.
We have always known that stepfamilies are complicated. Children in stepfather households, for example, have two father figures rather than one. And if the biological father remarries, then children also have two mother figures. Moreover, each partner may bring children from a previous relationship into the household, resulting in an intricate—and often volatile—mixture of people with different histories, expectations, and working models of family life. Understanding how parents and children navigate the complexities of stepfamily life has been a major focus of much prior research. But the increasing trend of nonmarital cohabitation has made this family form even more interesting—and more difficult to study. Consider the following questions: How do unmarried stepparents differ from married step-parents? In what ways are their roles similar or different? Do unmarried stepparents invest as much time and money in their families as do married stepparents? Are children better off if their parents and new partners marry? Finally, do the answers to questions like these depend on the cultures, policy environments, and legal systems in which stepfamilies are formed?
Although much has been learned about stepfamilies during the past several decades, this information is scattered across journals and books from multiple disciplines. Demographers have focused on counting the number of stepfamilies and documenting trends in their formation. Sociologists have asked questions about how stepfamily life varies by social class and other structural variables. Family psychologists have examined the multiple sources of stress that often emerge in stepfamily relationships. Child psychologists have studied the implications of stepfamily life for children’s development, adjustment, and well-being. Clinicians and counselors have focused on interventions to facilitate the adjustment of stepfamily members. And law scholars have grappled with the legal ambiguities that stepfamilies generate, such as stepparents’ financial obligations to stepchildren and whether divorced stepparents should have visitation rights. Given this diversity of scholarship, a critical need exists for a single volume that pulls this information together to provide a resource for counselors, policy makers, and scholars working in diverse fields.
Jan Pryor has assembled an impressive collection of chapters on stepfamilies, the most comprehensive set of writings on stepfamilies currently available. The contributing authors include demographers, sociologists, family psychologists, clinicians, legal scholars, and communication researchers. All of these authors are among the top scholars in their fields. The chapters address a variety of topics, such as trends in the prevalence and incidence of stepfamilies, marital quality in stepfamilies, parent-child relationships in stepfamilies, children’s views of stepfamilies, sibling relationships in stepfamilies, stepfamilies and the law, and interventions for stepfamilies.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this volume is the fact that the contributors come from a variety of countries, including the United States, France, Japan, Belgium, New Zealand, England, Wales, Canada, and Australia. This international flavor is missing from previous works on this topic. It is fascinating to know how the experiences of stepfamilies differ around the world. Studies conducted in the United States have tended to dominate the research literature on this topic, but good work is being done in many countries, and it is critical for family scholars to be aware of these contributions.
In addition to compiling and summarizing what we currently know about stepfamilies, this volume will undoubtedly stimulate new theoretical and empirical work. As our world becomes smaller and our methods of communication become faster, much of this new work will have a comparative and international perspective. I can foresee the formation of research teams comprising scholars from multiple countries, working on the same problems but viewing them through the lenses of their own cultures and legal systems. This type of arrangement is rare today, but it may become a more common research paradigm in the next several decades.
In summary, this edited collection will be a useful resource for scholars, students, and practitioners for many years. I congratulate the editor and the contributors to this volume for helping to shift the study of stepfamilies to a higher level of sophistication.
PAUL R. AMATO
Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Demography
Pennsylvania State University

Preface
BOOKS ABOUT stepfamilies, and families generally, abound. Yet most would agree that we are still in the dark as far as understanding the complexities, challenges, and joys of the ever-increasing numbers of stepfamilies. And increasing it is: As the rates of separations and divorces continue to rise, so too do the hopes of adults as they repartner in the earnest desire that this relationship and new family will work.
Sadly, the statistics tell us that second and third relationships are even more vulnerable than first ones. So families and households face further transitions and turmoil as they set about reorganizing themselves. Yet, many stepfamilies—often those unheralded by commentators and researchers—settle into a family life in which everyone thrives.
One response to the challenging aspects of stepfamilies is to discourage their formation by making divorce harder to achieve. David Popenoe has suggested that societies should be endeavoring to “halt the growth of step-families” (Popenoe, 1994), and others have described them as incomplete institutions with few societal scripts available for guidance. There is no doubt that to try to understand stepfamilies is to aim at a moving and constantly changing target. However, it is true more generally that many families are now “incomplete institutions” as the traditional nuclear household is increasingly joined by other family structures such as cohabiting families, families headed by same-sex parents, and other combinations of adults and children. An alternative response to those who would discourage stepfamilies, and one taken by this book, is to acknowledge the reality that is family life in this century, which includes large numbers of stepfamily households.
Why, then, another book on this topic? It is my hope that this book is different from the others. First, it brings an international perspective on the subject; we have authors from Japan, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, and the United States, and one U.S.-based chapter focuses on Mexican American stepfathers. This perspective highlights the similarities faced by stepfamilies worldwide, as well as differences brought about by the culture in which they live.
Second, it brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines, many well known and respected for their work, others young and innovative in their approaches. Included are sociologists, demographers, legal scholars, psychologists, and clinicians.
Third, the aim of the book is to record what we know and, importantly, to identify what we have yet to understand; further, it includes suggestions to further our knowledge about stepfamilies and to use that knowledge to the benefit of those stepfamilies yet to be formed.
In short, it is an exciting compendium of current knowledge combined with pointers to further our understanding of this burgeoning, complicated, and often thriving family form.
 
REFERENCE
Popenoe, D. (1994). The evolution of marriage and the problem of stepfamilies: a biosocial perspective. In A. Booth & J. Dunn (Eds.), Stepfamilies: Who benefits? Who does not? Hillsdale, NH: Erlbaum.

Contributors
Tamara D. Afifi, PhD
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, California
 
Graham Allan, PhD
Department of Sociology
Keele University
Staffs, United Kingdom
 
Bill Atkin, BA, LLM
Department of Law
Victoria University of Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand
 
Melinda E. Baham
Department of Psychology
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
 
Sanford L. Braver, PhD
Department of Psychology
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
 
Claire Cartwright, PhD
Department of Psychology
University of Auckland, Tamaki
Auckland, New Zealand
 
Stephen Claxton-Oldfield, PhD
Department of Psychology
Mount Allison University
New Brunswick, Canada
Marilyn Coleman, PhD
Sinclair School of Nursing and
Department of Human
Development and Family Studies
University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri
Scott Coltrane, PhD
College of Humanities, Arts and
Social Sciences
University of California
Riverside, California
Graham Crow, PhD
Division of Sociology and Social
Policy
University of Southampton
Southampton, United Kingdom
Britt Dehertogh
Research Center for Longitudinal
and Life Course Studies, Faculty
of Political and Social Sciences
University of Antwerp
Antwerp, Belgium
William V. Fabricius, PhD
Department of Psychology
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
Lawrence Ganong, PhD
Sinclair School of Nursing and
Department of Human
Development and Family Studies
University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri
Erika Gutierrez, MA
Department of Sociology
University of California
Riverside, California
 
W. Kim Halford, PhD
Director, Griffith Institute of Health
Dean (Research), Faculty of Health
Griffith University
Gold Coast, Australia
Gordon T. Harold, PhD
School of Psychology
Cardiff University
Cardiff, United Kingdom
Sheila Hawker, PhD
C & S Academic Services
Dorset, United Kingdom
Tyler Jamison, MS
Sinclair School of Nursing and
Department of Human
Development and Family Studies
University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri
Sarah E. C. Malia, JD, MS
Knoxville, Tennessee
 
Howard J. Markman, PhD
Professor of Psychology, University
of Denver
Director, Center for Marital and
Family Studies
Denver, Colorado
Jean-François Mignot
Observatoire Sociologique du
Changement
Laboratoire de Sociologie
Quantitative
Paris, France
Dimitri Mortelmans, PhD
Research Center for Longitudinal
and Life Course Studies, Faculty
of Political and Social Sciences
University of Antwerp
Antwerp, Belgium
 
Jan M. Nicholson, PhD
Murdoch Children’s Research
Institute
Royal Children’s Hospital
Melbourne, Australia
 
Shinji Nozawa, MS
Department of Sociology
Meiji Gakuin University
Tokyo, Japan
 
Patricia L. Papernow, EdD
Private Practice
Hudson, Massachusetts
 
Ross D. Parke, PhD
Department of Psychology
University of California
Riverside, California
 
Kay Pasley, PhD
Department of Family and Child
Sciences
Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida
 
Maddy Phillips, PhD
Queensland Center for Mental
Health Learning
Park Center for Mental Health
Queensland, Australia
Jan Pryor, PhD
Roy McKenzie Center for the Study
of Families
Victoria University of Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand
Jeremy Robertson, PhD
Roy McKenzie Center for the Study
of Families
Victoria University of Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand
 
Matthew R. Sanders, PhD
School of Psychology
University of Queensland
Brisbane, Australia
 
Katherine H. Shelton, PhD
School of Psychology
Cardiff University
Cardiff, United Kingdom
 
Marjorie Smith, PhD
Institute of Education
University of London
London, United Kingdom
 
Laurent Snoeckx, MA
Department of Political and Social
Sciences
Research Center for Longitudinal
and Life Course Studies
University of Antwerp
Antwerp, Belgium
 
Jay Teachman, PhD
Department of Sociology
Western Washington University
Bellingham, Washington
Lucky Tedrow, PhD
Department of Sociology
Western Washington University
Bellingham, Washington
Jessica Troilo
Sinclair School of Nursing and
Department of Human
Development and Family Studies
University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri
 
Brad van Eeden-Moorefield, PhD
Department of Human
Environmental Studies
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Sasha L. Walters, MS
School of Psychology
Cardiff University
Cardiff, United Kingdom
Amy A. Weimer, PhD
Department of Psychology and
Anthropology
University of Texas-Pan American
Edinburg, Texas
Sarah W. Whitton, PhD
Center for Anxiety and Related
Disorders
Boston University
Boston, Massachussetts

Acknowledgments
I WANT to thank the authors of the individual chapters for their skill and good humor as the book was brought together, and for their timeliness (in the main!) in getting chapters finished. Editing has been a far less arduous task than I had imagined thanks to you.
I want to acknowledge the forbearance and understanding of family and friends as this book was being written; in particular, my family—Simon, Emily, Esther, Roger, and Maggie—and fictive kin Duncan, Rhonda, Julian, Suzanne, Ian, Marilyn, and Mark.
Thank you to Patricia Rossi of John Wiley & Sons, who has been constantly supportive, encouraging, and helpful.

Introduction
IT IS easy to be pessimistic about stepfamilies. Their very origins are steeped in notions of death: The word “step” derives from the Old English word steop, which in turn is related to astieped, meaning “bereaved.” Words such as “stepbairn” and “stepchild” were used in the past as synonyms for orphan. Today, as chapters in this book attest, stepfamilies are still beset by stigma and stereotyping and by seemingly endless chronicles of their difficulties. Are stepfamilies today more or less challenged than those formed in the past mainly as a result of death? It is probably impossible to know. In the past, the death of a parent called for repartnering, particularly, as was often the case, if a mother died in childbirth leaving other children to be reared.
Stepfamilies today are more likely to be formed as a result of divorce, and they are both more pervasive and more highly visible than in the past. One difference between stepfamilies now and 200 years ago may be stability. Today, if stepfamily households are unstable it is because, in the main, the couple relationship fails and the decision is made to part. In the past, a stepfamily formed because of the death of a mother in childbirth may have been more stable at least partly because far less was demanded of marriage in terms of satisfaction, and divorce was both less feasible and less acceptable than it is today.
One symptom of the lingering stigma attached to stepfamilies is the repeated finding that stepfamilies do not want to be considered different from “normal” families and resist the stepfamily label (Ganong & Coleman, 2004). Another symptom is the prevalance of negative views and attitudes toward stepfamilies that abound, even in those who live in them. A compelling symptom of the wider reluctance to acknowledge stepfamilies as “real” families is the fact that countries such as Japan have had to invent a word based on the English word. In Sweden, too, common terms for stepparents are “plastic dad” and “plastic mom,” conveying an attitude of impermanence or superficiality. In this volume, some of the authors who live outside the United Kingdom and the United States are the first in their countries to undertake research that focuses on stepfamilies, reflecting the lack of interest in this family form in some countries and the greater willingness of the United Kingdom, the United States, and parts of Europe to acknowledge its pervasiveness.
The reality is that living in stepfamilies is an aspect of the lives of increasing numbers of adults and children worldwide. Stepfamilies are remarkably persistent and resilient as a family form, if numbers mean anything. And they are increasingly under scrutiny as their presence is more visible and, some would argue, increasingly troublesome. This is reflected in the increased attention to stepfamilies from clinicians, family scholars, and the law.
This volume represents recent work from an international group of researchers, clinicians, and legal scholars. It is divided, broadly, into four sections: the contexts in which stepfamilies form and establish themselves, dynamics within stepfamily households, influences beyond the household, and clinical and legal issues for stepfamilies.
In Section I, Jay Teachman and Lucky Tedrow establish a demographic framework by describing the prevalence and incidence of stepfamilies and the changing processes through which they are formed. Although their chapter is based predominantly on U.S. data, it is a fair reflection of trends in other Western countries. The perceptions and stereotypes of stepfamilies are then explored by Stephen Claxton-Oldfield in Chapter 2, where he describes research over the past few decades that suggests that stereotypes, if not disappearing, may be weakening over time.
Two chapters then address issues for stepfamilies in countries outside the United States and the United Kingdom. In Chapter 3, Jean-François Mignot describes demographic and historical aspects of stepfamilies in France and reports data from a recent study there. He interprets the state of stepfamilies in France and elsewhere using an evolutionary psychology framework to explain the negative aspects of stepfamily life. In Chapter 4, Shinji Nozawa presents the findings of the first Japanese study of stepfamilies, putting these into the context of Japan’s recent history of family cultures and family change. Finally in this section, Scott Coltrane and his colleagues explore differences and similarities between stepfathers in Mexican and Euro-American families. Taken together, these chapters give a context for stepfamilies that emphasizes ubiquity, diversity, and the importance of the cultural milieu in which stepfamilies live.
A great deal of scholarly effort has gone into understanding dynamics within stepfamily households, and some of these are addressed in Section II. The perspectives of stepfathers have received attention only relatively recently, and in Chapter 6 Jeremy Robertson discusses findings from an English study in which stepfathers talked about their roles. Of particular interest are his findings that stepfathers prefer not to be called stepfathers and that most of them welcome—or at least do not discourage—contact between nonresident parents and their children. In Chapter 7 Marjorie Smith, using data from the same U.K. study as Robertson, explores the place of mothers in stepfamily households, noting the pivotal role they play between partners and children in holding the family together.
Sibling relationships in stepfamilies have similarly received comparatively little attention. In Chapter 8 Melinda Baham and her colleagues develop a conceptual model of sibling relationships and present data that support their framework. They widen the common focus on dyads to consider sibling relationships and their associations with other relationships in stepfamilies and with child well-being.
The child’s relationship with resident biological parents is another area that has received relatively scant attention from scholars. In Chapter 9 Claire Cartwright discusses three New Zealand studies that have investigated the impact of parental repartnering on the parent-child relationship and is able to illuminate factors that help and hinder it. Her work is an excellent example of how qualitative studies can uncover aspects of family dynamics that are not easily apparent in survey data.
In Chapter 10, Brad van Eeden-Moorefield and Kay Pasley examine the trajectory of marital stability and quality in four family groups: married couples with only biological children, stepfather-only families, stepmother-only families, and complex (stepfather-stepmother) families. Katherine Shelton and colleagues in Chapter 11 report on a study in Wales in which paths of influence from interparental conflict to child well-being both overlap and differ in families and stepfamilies. Their study is probably the first to apply parental conflict models to the study of stepfamilies.
In Chapter 12, Laurent Snoeckx and colleagues consider the division of labor between partners in newly formed stepfamily households. They describe these household dynamics in the context of the welfare regimes in which they are nested. Finally in this section, Tamara Afifi takes a whole-family approach to the understanding of stepfamily dynamics by focusing on stepfamilies as social units and reviewing recent research on communication in stepfamilies in Chapter 13.
In Section III, dynamics and influences beyond the stepfamily household itself are addressed. First, in Chapter 14, Graham Allan and his colleagues consider the question of how stepfamily members think about relationships with family members outside the household, the “family kin” network. He concludes that kinship operates rather differently for stepfamilies from the way it is used in first families. In Chapter 15 I focus on the relationship between children and nonresident parents and the overlaps between children’s relationships with resident and nonresident parents of the same sex. This issue has become increasingly salient as nonresident parents become more involved with their children after divorce and when resident parents repartner.
Marilyn Coleman and her colleagues in Chapter 16 address the differences in the experiences of stepmothers depending on whether or not they live with children. She considers the role of conceptualizations and evaluations of stepmothers and the factors contributing to these, and she moves beyond earlier studies of stepmothers that have tended to treat them as a homogeneous group to consider the different experiences of resident and nonresident stepmothers.
Another aspect of stepfamily life that is attracting recent attention is the pattern of intergenerational relationships that are created when stepfamilies form. In Chapter 17 Lawrence Ganong addresses these complicated relationships, pointing out the different ways a person can become a step-grandparent and the particularly vague expectations of the relationships between stepchildren and their step-grandparents. The concept of incomplete institutionalization is particularly relevant to these relationships, as elders struggle to determine roles for themselves in stepfamilies.
Section IV focuses on clinical and legal issues for stepfamilies. Patricia Papernow emphasizes the importance for clinicians of recognizing that models based on first families will not work for stepfamilies; she describes “stepfamily architecture” and its implications for successful clinical work with stepfamilies. In Chapter 19, Sarah Whitton and colleagues review the literature and the interventions addressing couple relationships in stepfamilies. They note the importance of well-designed evaluations of programs that aim to help couples to function optimally. Jan Nicholson and her colleagues in Chapter 20 report on findings of two intervention studies carried out in Australia that focused on children’s functioning in stepfamilies.
The law has moved slowly in many countries to intervene legally in the lives of stepfamilies. Stepparents and stepchildren have been described as legal strangers, and where legitimization of their relationship has been put in place it varies in terms of its power and of its implications for other relationships the child has. In Chapter 21, Bill Atkin identifies some of the key issues and questions faced by legal systems in regulating stepfamily life. He uses the New Zealand example to illustrate the complexities and difficulties involved in this venture. Sarah Malia in Chapter 22 provides a comprehensive description and critique of the law as it applies to stepfamilies in the United States.
In the final chapter, I identify some of the key questions, challenges, and trends that emerge from the chapters in this book. There is a promising transition that is apparent: from a focus on stepfamilies as units and assemblages of relationships to a consideration of the wider social, political, legal, and cultural contexts in which they function. I look to the near future in terms of how research with stepfamilies might advance.
No book can cover all topics, and I am aware of two major omissions. First, same-sex stepfamilies are not addressed, despite the fact that they are an increasingly prevalent group in which dynamics both overlap and differ from those in heterosexual families (see van Eeden-Moorefield, Henley, and Pasley, 2005, for a discussion on this topic). Second, there is no chapter that addresses African American stepfamilies, again a group that deserves more attention than they receive.
Terminology in regard to stepfamilies is difficult and ambiguous. Some authors here have addressed issues of definition, and others have not. Despite the many objections to the term “stepfamily,” most writers, including myself, come back to it because it is widely understood and other terms can be vague or misleading or just silly (see Ganong & Coleman, 2004, for a discussion of terminology). Similarly, terms for the family structure against which stepfamilies are most often compared include nuclear, intact, biological, and first families. None of these is particularly accurate; even the word “biological” excludes families formed by adoption, and many stepfamilies would consider themselves to be intact. Again, authors have used varying terms in this book.
 
REFERENCES
Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2004). Stepfamily relationships: Development, dynamics, and interventions. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press.
van Eeden-Moorefield, B., Henley, K., & Pasley, K. (2005). Identity enactment and verification in gay and lesbian stepfamilies. In V. Bengston, A. C. Acock, K. R. Allen, P. Dilworth-Anderson, & D. M. Klein (Eds.), Sourcebook of family theory and research (pp. 230-233). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

SECTION I
INTERNATIONAL, DEMOGRAPHIC, AND CULTURAL CONTEXTS

CHAPTER 1
The Demography of Stepfamilies in the United States
JAY TEACHMAN
LUCKY TEDROW
 
 
HOUSEHOLD STRUCTURE in the United States has evolved over time. For example, between 1970 and 2000, the proportion of married couple households with children declined from 40% of all households to 24% of all households (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001a). Over the same period, the percentage of other types of family households (those not including two married parents) increased from 10% to 16%. These changes in household structure were generated by changes in basic demographic processes that create different types of households (e.g., marriage, divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, cohabitation). One important consequence of these changes in household structure and demographic processes has been their effect on the living arrangements of children. A particularly important change has been the steep increase in the proportion of households that include stepchildren and the increasing likelihood that a child will spend at least part of his or her formative years in a stepfamily.
In this chapter we explore the prevalence of stepfamilies and stepchildren, as well as the incidence of important events that generate households containing stepparents and stepchildren. We begin by noting the changing definition of stepfamilies and the methodological complications associated with measuring stepfamilies. These methodological difficulties are one reason for the surprising lack of accurate demographic information about step-families. Second, we examine the existing data about stepfamilies. Third, we turn our attention to the demographic processes that create stepfamilies, noting changes over time and what subsequent changes may imply for stepfamilies in the future. Although our attention is focused on the United States, we present some comparative data from other Western industrialized nations that have experienced many of the same demographic changes.

MEASURING STEPFAMILIES

Although at first glance it may seem an easy task, defining what constitutes a stepfamily can be complicated. This difficulty mirrors debates about what constitutes a family (Benokraitis, 1999; Dilworth-Anderson, 1992). Do cohabiting couples constitute a family? What about gay and lesbian couples? Should blood, marriage, and other legal connections be used to define families to the exclusion of intimate relationships (Scanzoni, Polonko, Teachman, & Thompson, 1989)? Do family members need to share a common household? What about the role fictive kin play in defining families (Dilworth-Anderson, 1992)? Many of these same questions apply when attempting to define what constitutes a stepfamily. The issues involved are often not demographic. Rather, they revolve around issues of culture, socialization, and individual preference. These debates can be politicized as various groups seek to have their status legitimated by various organizations and government agencies.
Because the issue is so complex, to simplify the chore demographers generally rely on a household definition that is based on coresidence. In the U.S. Census, a “household includes all the people who occupy a housing unit as their usual place of residence” (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006). A family is defined as a type of household in which “two or more people . . . reside together and . . . are related by birth, marriage, or adoption.” A stepfamily is a particular type of household and is defined as a “married couple family in which there is at least one stepchild of the householder present. If the child has been adopted by the householder, that child is classified as an adopted child and the family is not classified as a stepfamily, unless another nonadopted stepchild is present.”1 One weakness of this definition of a stepfamily is that it ignores linkages and interactions that occur across households (Levin & Trost, 2000). For example, suppose that John and Martha marry and have a child, Samuel. Then John and Martha divorce. Within 5 years of their divorce, John and Martha both remarry spouses with no prior children. Samuel resides with Martha and her new husband but spends two nights per week and every other weekend with John and his new wife. Demographers would generally count Martha’s new household as a stepfamily. John’s new household would not be counted as a stepfamily even though Samuel spends a portion of his time with John and John interacts regularly with Martha and her new husband concerning Samuel’s upbringing.
The demographic definition is simple because it follows the Western tradition of thinking of families as being contained in a single household (Cherlin & Furstenberg, 1994). It is also tidy because households form easy units for counting individuals and their presumed relationships. Yet this definition misses some of the interaction associated with stepfamily relationships. Unfortunately, however, there is no way to measure stepfamily relationships across households that can be easily incorporated into large-scale survey efforts (e.g., the Current Population Survey) or a census that demographers rely on for gathering data on households. Thus, our demographic accounting of stepfamilies is necessarily based on a household definition.
The demographic definition of stepfamilies has other difficulties related to data collection, definition, and comparability. In part, these difficulties stem from changes over time in the types of events that create new stepfamilies. Historically, stepfamilies were created by two sets of paired processes: the death of one married parent followed by remarriage of the surviving parent, and later, divorce of married parents followed by remarriage of one or both parents. Thus, following the dissolution of a marriage, almost all stepfamilies were created by remarriage, with at least one of the married partners acting in the role of stepparent (both partners could be stepparents if both brought biological children to the marriage). Indeed, some of the earlier reviews on the subject of stepchildren and stepparents were at least partially written as reviews of the remarriage literature (Coleman & Ganong, 1990; Coleman, Ganong, & Fine, 2000; Glick, 1989).
Recent trends in two phenomena have changed the way stepfamilies are formed and thus how people think about them. One substantial change has been out-of-wedlock childbearing (National Center for Health Statistics, 2005; Wu & Wolf, 2001). Increased rates of nonmarital fertility have created a pool of parents entering the marriage market who have not been previously married. Thus, an increasing number of first marriages involve stepchildren and do not involve processes of remarriage.2 Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households, Bumpass, Raley, and Sweet (1995) estimate that about one-quarter of mothers and nearly one-third of children enter a stepfamily relationship via nonmarital childbearing rather than divorce. Although these families would be captured by the standard demographic definition of stepfamilies, census data do not distinguish them from stepfamilies created by remarriage. To the extent that the differences in how stepfamilies are formed are important for the way they function, this limitation is important to consider.
A second phenomenon, nonmarital cohabitation, is also related to how stepfamilies are formed and has consequences for the way they are counted. Substantial increases in cohabitation have meant that more and more children are living with one biological parent and the parent’s partner without the umbrella of marriage (Bumpass & Lu, 2000; Bumpass & Raley, 1995; Bumpass et al., 1995). If cohabitation is counted as a family type, about two-thirds of both mothers and children enter a stepfamily relationship via cohabitation (Bumpass et al., 1995). These households would not be included in counts of families compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, although they would be included in counts of households.
A third concern when examining data on stepfamilies and stepchildren relates to simple data collection procedures. For example, as indicated in the next section, the U.S. Census collects information about stepfamilies and stepchildren by asking for the relationship between each child in the household and the householder (most commonly the adult who completes the census form). Thus, a biological child of the householder would not be reported as a stepchild even if the householder’s spouse was not the child’s biological parent. These are all concerns that must be taken into account when comparing data collected across time, organizations, and geographic regions. Differences in the prevalence of stepchildren and stepfamilies can be substantial, but care must be taken to discount the possibility that differences are not due to variations in definition or how data are collected. In presenting data about the United States, we take care to point out cases in which comparisons should be made with caution.

THE U.S. CENSUS

With these concerns in mind, precisely how does the U.S. Census Bureau measure stepfamilies? Figure 1.1 shows the question that was used to ascertain household structure and composition in the 2000 decennial census. As indicated earlier, at the core of the census definition is a household, that is, individuals who share living quarters. Each household is represented by a householder (formerly a head of household). The householder is the reference person to whom the relationship of all other members of the household is determined. This is basically the structure that has been used in the decennial census since 1880. What has changed over time is the set of codes that have been used to determine the relationship between each person in
Figure 1.1 Reproduction of the Question on Relationship to Householder from Census 2000.
Source: “Census 2000 Questionnaire,” by U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
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the household and the householder. For our purposes, the most significant change occurred in 1990, when new codes were added for unmarried partners, stepchildren, and grandchildren. Reflecting continued change in the living arrangements of Americans, codes were added in 2000 for foster child, adopted child, parent-in-law, and child-in-law.
Although the changes made in 1990 and 2000 better reflected the changing living arrangements of Americans, allowing for the first time the identification of stepchildren and stepfamilies, U.S. Census data are constrained when it comes to counting these entities. For example, stepchildren are missed in couple households (married or unmarried) if the child being enumerated is the biological child of the householder but not of the householder’s partner. For example, if in the hypothetical family considered earlier, Martha and her biological child, Samuel, form a new family via Martha’s remarriage and Martha is listed as the householder, the family will not be counted as a stepfamily and Samuel will not be counted as a stepchild. This categorization would occur because Samuel is the biological child of the householder, Martha. The census would not ascertain the relationship between Samuel and his mother’s partner.
This issue could be resolved if the U.S. Census Bureau changed the reporting requirements so that the relationship of every household member to every other household member was ascertained. This is not an insignificant data collection challenge but is already being accomplished in other countries, for example, in Great Britain (as of 2001) and Australia.
Another group of stepchildren is missed when, in unmarried households, the partner listed as the householder fails to list nonbiological children living with him or her as stepchildren. Again, suppose that Martha and her son, Samuel, form a new household, but in this instance Martha cohabits rather than marries. If Martha’s partner is listed as the householder, he may choose not to list Samuel as a stepchild even though Samuel is not his biological child and lives in the household. In this case, he could list Samuel as an “other nonrelative.” This problem is tied to emerging social definitions of what constitutes a stepchild (Marsiglio, 2004). The U.S. Census allows respondents to use their own interpretation of the meaning of the coding categories presented. As premarital cohabitation becomes more widespread and accepted as a context for child rearing, we anticipate that more cohabiting households will report stepchildren. This possibility also means that trends over time in the proportion of children living with a parent and cohabiting partner must be interpreted with caution. In particular, increases in the prevalence of stepchildren could, at least in part, be due to the increased willingness of partners to list nonbiological children living with them as stepchildren.

SURVEY DATA

Several surveys have been used to generate estimates of stepchildren and stepfamilies in the United States, including the Current Population Survey (Glick, 1989), the National Study of Families and Households (Bumpass et al., 1995), and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001b). In Canada, estimates of stepfamilies have been derived from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (Marcil-Gratton, 1998), in Great Britain from the British Household Panel Study (Ermisch & Francesconi, 2000), and for much of Europe the European Fertility and Family Surveys (Thomson, 2004, see also www.demographic-research.org.).
Due to its large size (about 37,000 households), and the fact that it counted the relationship of each person to every other person in the household, the 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is particularly important to consider. Indeed, we can use information from SIPP to provide some estimate of the degree to which the census may undercount stepchildren because of its limitations, including counting only the relationship of each household member to the householder.
The 1996 SIPP indicated that 4,902,000 children under age 18 were living with at least one stepparent, or about 7% of all children. This figure compares to 3,292,000 children under age 18 living with a stepparent enumerated in the 2000 census, or about 5% of all children. Thus, the census appears to capture only about two-thirds of all stepchildren. Yet, the census remains our primary source of demographic information about stepfamilies and stepchildren due to its large size and national coverage. Although the census undercounts stepchildren and stepfamilies, it remains useful when making comparisons across censuses (i.e., for trend data) and among groups within a census under the assumption that the undercount is likely to be relatively constant across different censuses and across groups within a census. In other words, even though the census may be underestimating the absolute numbers, we are likely to obtain reasonable estimates of differences across various groups in the prevalence of stepchildren and stepfamilies. 3 With these points in mind, we now turn to some basic results painting a portrait of stepfamilies and stepchildren in the United States.

PREVALENCE OF STEPFAMILIES AND STEPCHILDREN

Shown in Table 1.1 is the number and percentage of married-couple and cohabiting-couple households with children that contain a stepchild. Approximately 9% of married-couple households with children contain stepchildren (recall that U.S. Census figures likely understate the number of households containing stepchildren). Among cohabiting-couple households, 11.5% contain a stepchild. This latter figure is likely more of an underestimate than that for married couples, given the fact that cohabiting householders may not voluntarily list their partner’s biological child as their stepchild. Despite concerns about their numerical accuracy, these figures indicate that cohabiting-couple households are more likely to contain a stepchild than married-couple households.
Table 1.1
Family Households with Children by Marital Status of Parents and
Relationship of Children, 2000
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