Stepfamily Communication

Authored by: Dawn O. Braithwaite , Paul Schrodt

The Routledge Handbook of Family Communication

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415881982
eBook ISBN: 9780203848166
Adobe ISBN: 9781136946370


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Stepfamilies are one growing family form that represents both opportunities and challenges to the members who live in them, the professionals who work with them, and the scholars who study them. Defined as families in which “at least one of the adults has a child (or children) from a previous relationship” (Ganong & Coleman, 2004, p. 2), stepfamilies represent one of the more difficult family forms to index and study. Earlier estimates suggested that about one-third of U.S. children would spend at least part of their lives as stepchildren (Bumpass, Raley, & Sweet, 1995), and more recently, Stewart (2007) reported that 15 percent of children under the age of 18 currently live in a married stepfamily. In fact, stepfamily membership is underrepresented in national data sets as stepfamily members’ time is often split between households and an increasing number of stepfamilies are cohabiting outside of marriage (Teachman & Tedrow, 2008). In addition, children in any given household may be the product of different adult relationships, and thus, many stepfamilies spring from multiple marriages and cohabiting relationships, creating changing and fluid boundaries.

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