Using the family structural theory, how can families created following second marriages learn to function as one? Families go through several different developmental stages, usually at a milestone such as marriage, birth, death, etc. At each stage, the members of the family will need to adapt to the current environment or situation and new roles and responsibilities that come with that role. Some may take longer than others may to adapt. (Edelman 152). With second marriages, there have already been adaptations to the first marriage and the separation, divorce, single life, dating and now a new marriage. Each step along the way each one of the family members have picked up their own ways of adapting as well as the children have been growing and their bodies are doing all kinds of crazy hormonal things, which can really mess up any form of logic they may have. So all of these family members have so-called “baggage” that they bring with them that will affect the way they adapt and effect the way each of the other family members adapt.
When something happens in a family, it does not happen in a vacuum, every one of the members feels it whether they admit it or not. When children are involved and they are young, it will take time for them to accept the “step-parent” as a parent figure. It is best that they just act as a family friend, a supportive person who helps to follow the rules set by the child’s parent. It is thought that it may take a child as much as up to their entire age to accept that parent as a parent. For example if they are 4 years old, he or she may not accept the stepparent until 8 years old (Susan Gamache, 1994). Not to say they do not regard them or think fondly of them, they just need to bond. Gamache (1994) suggests to use the first year as a bonding time just as you do when you have a baby.
For Children 12 and over, chances are they will not ever accept the step as a parent figure because in the teens they barely accept their own parents as authority figures. So the best thing to do for that is to not make any rules, just enforce the parent’s rules and try and bond for the first year (Susan Gamache, 1994). Edelman, Carole, Elizabeth Kudzma, Carol Mandle. Health Promotion Throughout the Life Span, 8th Edition. Mosby, 2014. VitalBook file. Susan Gamache, M. R. (1994, Oct). New Perspectives on Stepfamilies: Step is Not a Four Letter Word. Retrieved from National Stepfamily Resource Center: http://www.stepfamilies.info/articles/new-perspectives-on-stepfamilies.php