Sociologist: Stepfamilies hard to define

Dec 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: Billionaires' $10m gift to Yale stirs debate in China

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

UC Santa Barbara receives $65M from Munger

13 hours ago

A physics institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has received a $65 million donation—the largest single gift in the university's history.

Prophet's ancient seal provides insights from antiquity

19 hours ago

When a personal artifact of a religious leader is discovered nearly 1,700 years after its use, the object provides invaluable historical insights. Zsuzsanna Gulacsi, professor of Comparative Cultural Studies, ...

Billionaires' $10m gift to Yale stirs debate in China

23 hours ago

A Chinese billionaire couple's $10 million gift to Yale University sparked controversy among the country's Internet users Thursday, with some arguing that the money would be better spent on schools in China.

User comments : 0

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.