There is a remarkable hole in the information that is set out on stepfamilies and the way they live. There are numerous studies made on stepparents handling situations and how the stepparents deals with discipline or even how to discipline. Everywhere you look there is help for the struggling stepparent. Society has painted a picture of what the “ideal family” would be: A husband, wife, son, daughter, and a pet. In reality half of the people in the United States, does not belong to the “ideal family”. Nearly 50 percent of families in the United States are stepfamilies, and the number is escalating (Social Problems 13th Edition). Stepfamilies are different from traditional families because they have to combine a home to fit the children, and spouses. Stepfamilies bring their different values and beliefs finding a way to adapt. Stepfamilies face many dynamics, and challenges. This paper will discuss the dynamics, the adaption, the finances, and the religion of a stepfamily. In addition, applying the value conflict and social disorganization theory and how it is incorporated in the family. Step family’s also known as blended families, are growing rapidly.
Blended can included different combination of step parenting or single parents. ). A stepfamily is a remarried family with a child under 18 years of age who is the biological child of one parent, and was born before the remarriage occurred (Glick). The definition of a step parent family is one of the parents are the biological parent and the other is not the biological parent of the child. When both the parents move in together with kids of their own, it is a Brandy Bunch. A brandy bunch is two different families living together. Adolescents have a more difficult time than younger children to except the new marriage because of the changing in their growth stage. Adolescents will show more disinclination and will turn toward their friends for support. Younger children will show attention in a behavior change more in school or in public. With younger children it is just a temporary problem that will slowly disappear. When two separate families come under one roof, there are going to be conflicts. In the previous marriage, it is possible for the parents to have different rules than the new marriage. Research has shown, if all the arguments toward disagreement with the child are discussed beyond close doors, the children wouldn’t be rebellion. A second marriage is a struggle because it is adapting a new environment.
One of the biggest sources of stress in a relationship, and one of the leading causes of divorce is money. Because the divorce rate is tremendously high, statistics show that over 50% of Americans will live in a stepfamily environment at some point in their lives. Discussing finances and determining who is responsible for paying what necessities in a marriage can be most difficult, and even more complex in stepfamilies. Assets within a remarriage are difficult to dissect because of the different views and perspectives each individual has based on past experiences and relationships. For example, quarrels may come about if both persons cannot reach an agreement on handling money and financial issues. It may become a major issue in the relationship if the couple cannot see eye to eye on the best ways to spend and save money, especially if finances were a contributing factor to the divorce in their past marriage. According to Jane Bennett Clark, author and editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, a pre-nuptial agreement should be discussed and drawn up before getting married. Clark believes you have the best shot at meshing families and finances if you talk through the plan before the wedding and revisit it regularly.
Most couples do not want to discuss the topic of a pre-nuptial agreement for fear that it will create trust issues or it takes away from the value of marriage. However, the purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to ensure that both parties understand the property they have ownership of, and how the division of the assets will be conducted, all while being fair. Another dynamic that must be taken into consideration in a remarriage is the responsibility and obligation that still lingers in a previous marriage. The division of funds between two families can be trying and difficult between stepfamilies. For example, if a husband is required by the courts to pay alimony and child support, the expenses and decrease in income will affect the blended family. Tensions can arise when decisions have to be made based on the requirements of another family. Someone in the marriage may become overwhelmed or angry at always having to make sacrifices or unable to venture into different projects because they are filled with doubt and worry of caring for another household. According to the National Stepfamily Resource Family article, written by Margorie Engel, money will always be an issue in remarried couples because trust and guarantee of permanence will always remain an underlying issue.
Research shows most remarried couples having three accounts labeled-yours, mines and ours. Engel believes that when couples have separate accounts, they are acknowledging the different interest they have and the want to make financial decisions without having to ask for “permission.” However, there are many issues that may arise when creating separate accounts. For instance, because each person has their own account, they may be required to split everything 50/50 and have an equal share in household expenses. The problem is most women do not average the same income as their husbands; therefore, the wife’s 50% will affect her income more drastically. Nevertheless, couples will often create an “ours” account. It usually consists of each individual maintaining a separate small account for themselves, and a joint account used for household expenses. Creating these different accounts is not a difficult task because most likely the spouses are entering into the marriage already with a credit history and individual bank accounts. The separate accounts are mainly used for the expenses of their biological children, insurance plan, gifts or hobbies, while the shared accounts are used for joint expenses, such as a mortgage. The key to having a successful financial plan is to budget.
Budgeting allows for the persons in the marriage to get a clear idea of all the financial obligations the family has as a whole. In the process of creating a budget, both parties should be open and willing to discuss their income and any bills or expenses they have acquired. Next, a list should be developed with two categories labeled: wants or needs. The most important expenses should be at the head of the list, such s mortgage, and insurance and car payments. Afterwards, a review of the budget will reveal if the couple is financially stable to afford extracurricular activities or vacations. Once an agreement has been made regarding the budget, the pair has to agree and stick within the guidelines of the budget. Although there is no right or wrong way to handle finances in a remarriage, both parties should feel comfortable and at ease. Every marriage is different, and each couple has to find what works best for them through trial and error. When it comes to ways in which to handle finances, nothing should be written in stone. In fact, the budget and any decision made on what to spend money on should be revisited often. The most important thing when handling money is to be sure that the needs of any children involved are being met first. Religion and family have a symbiotic relationship.
Religion along with economics, and education was embedded in the family and political system. Religion is not talked about separate from the family, but instead it is an expression of the family (Smikins and Risch). Religion has shaped our understanding of the family (Smikins and Risch). Smikins stated, “Either religion is embedded in the family, or the family is the symbol of the religion (Smikins and Risch).” How can this be acquired in a stepfamily where you have two different individual with different religious values? The role of religion in stepfamilies can be very crucial in a relationship between two adults with different beliefs and backgrounds. How do you come to a common ground in a relationship when dealing with such an important matter as religion? Many marriages in the United States are based upon Christian beliefs and values (The Practices of Happiness: Political Economy, Religion, and Well Being). Marriages are destroyed because there is no common ground. A marriage cannot work when the yolk is unequal, meaning if there is a difference in value and belief there will always be disagreements about certain issues.
Each religion follows different guidelines. For example, Christians see adultery as a sin, but someone who is a polygamist may not see it as being wrong because of their religious belief. Religion sets the core and guidelines on the way to live life. Religion and family are institutions that emphasize values and provide a context of socialization. Researchers found a link between religious characteristics and material stability (Simking and Risch). For example, studies showed that couples in which the husband and wife participate in the same religion have a lower rate at divorce than couples that do not share religion (Simking and Risch). If a couple cannot see eye to eye, more than likely the marriage is not going to be a success. One significant finding is that a married couple should attend church. Married couples that attend church will have a more stable marriage than a married couple that does not attend church. Rather, such factors as a lower level of joint religious activity or higher level of religious differences, rather than an interchurch marriage itself might foster martial instability (Simking and Risch). Spouse’s difference does not only affect the marriage, but it also impacts the children.
What values and concepts do learn to teach your kids? How do you come to an agreement to raise the children in a “righteous way”? These are the type of questions spouse faces in a stepfamily. Religion and family are intertwined because religion is often taught from the family. Many children are taught by their parents, and influence by their families on religious beliefs, values, and concepts. Depending on the age of the child, he/she may not know the difference between values of religion. Parent’s dispute over the “right way” to raise their children can lead to divorce. Parents pushed their beliefs and values upon the children. Families have a big influence on their children’s beliefs and values, but when the children become an adult they tend to adapt to their own values and beliefs. Married couples have to agreement on how to raise their children. Changing values and beliefs in a new marriage is a big transition for children. Learning a new behavior can be a challenge for the married couple and the children because everyone has to incorporate the new behavior in their daily life.
Another issue toward divorce is disagreements because no one can come to a mutual agreement. Although divorce is common, people are not remaining single after a difficult marriage. One of the reasoning behind getting remarried is to be happy. Not only do the parents have to be happy in the marriage but also the children. Having a understanding on rules and religion is a major thing that should be worked on before the marriage. The financial needs are handled in the proper way. Every issue is not to be discussed with the presence of the children. Furthermore, there is increasing indication that the change of stepfamily members is interrelated to beliefs about the stepparent role and the degree to which the stepparent role is understandable. Being a step parent is not the easiest thing but is worth it if you love the one you married.