Sociologist: Stepfamilies hard to define

December 11, 2006

The changing face of the U.S. family is nothing like the Cleavers or the Andersons of television lore, an Iowa State University sociologist said.

An increasing number of U.S. families are stepfamilies, Susan Stewart said, and they're becoming more difficult to define. Stewart explored the changing look and membership of the family in her book, "Brave New Stepfamilies: Diverse Paths Toward Stepfamily Living," published by Sage Publications.

"What is a stepfamily? As social and demographic changes diversified American families in recent times, this seemingly straightforward question has become difficult to answer," she said. "The definition of stepfamily is broader than you think."

Couples having children and not being married, parents sharing custody of children, gay parenting, population aging and increasing racial and ethnic diversity all mean couples and children follow sometimes circuitous routes into stepfamilies.

Eighty percent of the studies she reviewed for her book focused on remarried couples, to the exclusion of other groups of stepfamilies, Stewart said. In contrast, the U.S. Census focuses on households.

"We need to update our concept of a stepfamily. It's more than just remarriage," Stewart said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Study finds link between individual stress and adolescent obesity

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Early human diet explains our eating habits

August 31, 2015

Much attention is being given to what people ate in the distant past as a guide to what we should eat today. Advocates of the claimed palaeodiet recommend that we should avoid carbohydrates and load our plates with red meat ...

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.