Stepfamilies: Family and Child Support

Topics: Family, Parenting, Marriage Pages: 5 (1749 words) Published: December 15, 2001
"Money, frequently cited as the biggest source of stress in family life, is often an even more challenging matter for members of stepfamilies"

Statistically, in our world today, half of all marriages will end in divorce. About fifty-percent of our population will also live in a stepfamily environment. In other words, more than half of the American families today, are now or eventually will be in involved in one or more stepfamily situations during their life according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 1990. The "U.S. Bureau decided to discontinue providing estimates of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, except for those that are available from our current census. Thus many of our current estimates were derived from the 1990 census and earlier sources" (Step Family Fact Sheet, 1). Therefore the exact statistics in regards to stepfamilies today may be more or less from the estimated fifty- percent. Stepfamilies nowadays consist of many family members and are very complex. "Today's stepfamily consists of you, me, your kids, my kids, our kids, your ex'es, my ex'es, even our ex'es new mates, and all the kin of these various folks. Stepfamilies give a new meaning to the concept of complex family relationships" (Hildebrand, 255). For that reason, the interactions within this family unit can be complicated and uncomfortable. There are many changes, positive and/or negative, that stepfamilies try to adapt to. For instance, adults take on new parenting roles and children take on new roles as well, such as a new stepparent or sibling. The parents and/or children may be required to relocate into a completely different house in a completely new neighborhood or city, which leads to separation issues with their nuclear family. With all these issues at hand it is obvious that this can be very stressful for everyone. Even more, this causes even more stresses, such as money. An ecological factor such as economics can have a huge impact on stepfamilies. This means financial decisions within a stepfamily have more people contributing to economic decisions. In turn, this can lead to more rules, emotions, and financial wishes and requests. When a couple decides to marry, especially for their second, third, or fourth time, it only brings in past experiences into the picture. Both spouses in the stepfamily most likely are in the work force as well. This also leads to the assumption that both spouses were head of the household in their previous marriage and have a promising career. Hence not only do they deal with the past but they have to decide how to deal with new financial situations, which may lead to anxiety and tension. " In a recent study of remarried couples, more than two-thirds indicated that financial matters were handled differently in this marriage than they had been handled in their previous marriage....In fact, financial problems may have been a major factor from their first divorce" (Fletcher, 1). Apparently when a remarriage takes place, chances are children are involved. In this situation it is possible that one or both of the spouses have an engagement to not only support and raise their child but also now have to help support their new family. According to the class text "Knowing and Serving Diverse Families", Hildebrand touches on the topic of housing. According to Hildebrand, "It is usually not a good idea for the family to live in a residence that was formally the residence of the marriage partners. This can cause territorial feelings". Although Hildebrand finds that previous literature stresses the importance of continuing contact and stability for the children within their previous neighborhoods and schools. Of course this is not always plausible, as it is hard to please every single person within the family unit. In a functional aspect, this situation could create a positive aura in regards to family relationships. Interestingly when a divorced man remarries he typically is responsible for...

References: Hildebrand, Verna (2000). Knowing and Serving Diverse Families (2nd ed.).
Klein, David M., White, James M.(1996). Family Theories.
Pill, Cynthia J.(1990). Stepfamilies: Redefining the Family. Family
Relations, 39, 2, 186-201.
Stepfamilies: Meeting Challenges and Building Strengths (1995).
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