CHAPTER 14 – NEW BEGINNINGS: SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES, REMARRIAGES, AND BLENDED FAMILY Instructor: Wendy Crapo
Used by permission of THE ACADEMY OF NURSING 2355 E. 3900 S. S. L. C. , UT 84124 801 -506 -0064
PREVIEW QUESTIONS Answer the following True/False questions: • Researchers are increasingly viewing stepfamilies as normal families. T • Divorce does not end families. T • Shared parenting tends to be the strongest tie holding former spouses together. T • Second marriages are significantly happier than first marriages. F • Most stepfamilies feel that they have become true families. T • Children tend to have greater power in single-parent families than in traditional nuclear families. T • Becoming a stepfamily is a process. T • Stepmothers generally experience less stress in stepfamilies than stepfathers because stepmothers are able to fulfill themselves by nurturing their stepchildren. F • Researchers are increasingly finding that remarried families and intact nuclear families are similar to each other in many important ways. T • People who remarry and those who marry for the first time tend to have similar expectations. F
TYPES OF FAMILIES The 1990’s marked the shift from a traditional marriage and family system to a pluralistic family system which consists of three major types of families. • Intact nuclear families • Single-parent families • Stepfamilies
FACTS ABOUT FAMILIES: Ø Two out of three individuals will divorce, remarry or live in a single-parent family or step family during his or her life. Ø Remarriage is as common as first marriage. Ø Nearly one-fourth of all families are currently singleparent families. Ø Over 2. 3 million households have stepchildren living with them, and over a third of all children can expect to live in a stepfamily at some time during their childhood. Ø Instead of seeing single-parent and stepfamilies as “deviant”, researchers are reevaluating them as normal; the focus becomes one of examining if the family is fulfilling its functions.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES: Consists of one parent and one or more children. • The fastest growing family form in the United States. – – – Created by divorce or birth of unmarried women Usually female headed (87%) Significance of ethnicity (64% African American, 36% Hispanic, 26% white) – Poverty - WHY? – Variety of household arrangements and show great flexibility in child care and housing. – Transitional character but for older women in their 30’s or 40’s, it has become more of an intentional life style.
SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES BY ETHNICITY
CHANGES IN FAMILY STRUCTURE OF SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES • Mother becomes closer to her children • More egalitarian family situations • More responsibility • Children gain power in determining the rules
CHARACTERISTICS OF • Acceptance of SUCCESSFUL SINGLE PARENTS: responsibilities • Parenting is first priority • Consistent, non-punitive discipline • Open Communication • Foster individuality • Need for self nurturing • Dedication to rituals & traditions
• A post-divorce family with children, consisting of the FAMILIES original. BINUCLEAR nuclear family divided into two families, one headed by the mother, the other headed by the father. The two new families may be either single-parent or step family.
DIAGRAM OF BINUCLEAR FAMILY • Which person has not lost a primary relationship? (sadness, anger, misplaced hostility) • How is this family different from a traditional family? (# of households, # of people, # of generations, # of grandparents) Refer to page 554 of text
BINUCLEAR FAMILY SUBSYSTEMS • Former spouses subsystem (continues because of children) • • • Issues include anger, hostility, conflicts about parenting, shifting roles and relationships, incorporating step-relatives after remarriage Important to separate parenting from personal issues The remarried couple subsystem The parent-child subsystem The sibling subsystem The mother/stepmother and father/stepfather subsystem
CHARACTERISTICS AFFECTING REMARRIAGE • Age at the time of separation • Ethnicity • Presence of children (Nearly ½ of all marriages in the US involve at least one partner who has been previously married)
COURTSHIP: • Shorter - WHY? (Nearly ½ remarry within a year) • May feel guilt • Look at potential partner also as potential parent • Must deal with child’s judgments, hostility, and resentment of the “intruder”
REMARRIAGE THIS IS NOT A SECOND MARRIAGE – IT IS A FIRST BLENDED FAMILY MARRIAGE • Partners must get to know each other in midst of changes. • Different marital expectations. • Often creates a step family. • Marital happiness appears to be about the same as first marriages. • But more likely to divorce than first marriages WHY? • Most difficult for step-children. • Ex-spouse can be an intruder, source of conflict, handy scapegoat.
REMARRIAGE HAPPINESS VS DIVORCE RATES • Marital satisfaction appears to be the same as first marriages. • More likely to divorce especially if children are present. • Remarriage does not receive the same family and kin support as first marriage. • Subject to similar stresses present in first marriage.
STEP FAMILIES: A FAMILY IN WHICH ONE OR BOTH PARTNERS HAVE A CHILD OR CHILDREN FROM AN EARLIER MARRIAGE OR RELATIONSHIP. • Could be the norm soon • Step parent role ill defined
COMPARE TRADITIONAL FAMILIES WITH STEP FAMILIES Discuss for each of the following statements: Potential difficulties Potential advantages Feelings associated with the difference – – – Almost all members have lost an important primary relationship One biological parent lives outside the current family The relationship between a parent and his/her children predates the one with the new partners Stepparent roles are ill defined Many children in stepfamilies are also members of the noncustodial parent’s household Children have at least one extra pair of grandparents
STEPFAMILY DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES 1. Early stage: • • • Fantasy (expect children to love new parent as much as they do) Immersion (reality replaces fantasy) Awareness of feelings 2. Middle stages: • • Mobilization (recognize difference, conflict more open, stepparent begins to take a stand integrate them) Action (reorganizes itself, creates new norms and family rituals) 3. Later stage: • • Contact ( members make intimate contact with each other and stepparent has individually created role) Resolution (solid family)
WHAT WOMEN IN STEPFAMILIES WANT: • To make up to the children for the divorce • Create a happy family • Prove they are not wicked stepmothers • To love their stepchildren instantly • To be loved instantly in return
STEP-MOTHERS Step-mothers have the most challenges (step fathers tend not to be as involved) • Custody disputes • Children with troubled family histories • Must assume role of disciplinarian
WHAT MEN IN STEPFAMILIES WANT: • May want to be super dads to their own children • Feel guilt and confusion in their new families • Experience conflict related to discipline and fitting into stepfamily
SPECIAL PROBLEMS FOR STEP FAMILIES • Favoritism may exist along kinship lines • Divided loyalty between parents places great stress upon children • Discipline is especially difficult to handle if the child is not one’s biological offspring • Allocating money, goods, and services • Outsiders have influence on insiders • Children can play adult roles and ruin a new marriage
PRESSURE POINTS FOR STEP FAMILIES • • • Money Time Decisions Intimacy Power Control
STEP FAMILIES SUCCESSFUL IF BY 3 rd YEAR: • Children obey step parent • Siblings get along • Ex-spouse relationship more routine
STEP FAMILY STRENGTHS • • Children may gain multiple role models More flexible Concerned stepparent Additional siblings Additional kin Improved economic status Happily married parents
VOCABULARY • 1. Binuclear Family: A post-divorce family with children, consisting or the original nuclear family divided into two families, one headed by the mother, the other headed by the father; the two new families may be either single-parent or stepfamilies. • 2. Blended Family: A family in which one or more parents have a child or children from an earlier marriage or relationship, a stepfamily. • 3. Remarriage: A marriage in which one or both partners have been previously married.
VOCABULARY cont’d • 4. Single-parent Family: A family with children, created by divorce or unmarried motherhood, in which only one parent is present. • 5. Stepfamily: A family in which one or both partners have a child or children from an earlier marriage or relationship, • 6. Stepparent Role: There is no such role clearly defined.