The number of second marriage children is on the rise, as the divorce rates increase. If you are contemplating a different marriage, children are one of the most important factors you must consider. Research into these so-called “reconstituted families” is improving, but many unknowns remain.(1) Mistrust, fear of failure, and feelings of vulnerability are just a few of the factors facing step children and their parents.
As the divorce rates rise, it makes sense that the number of second marriage children is also on the rise.
If you are contemplating a another marriage, children are one of the most important factors you must consider. Research into these so-called “reconstituted families” is improving, but many unknowns remain.(1) Mistrust, fear of failure, and feelings of vulnerability are just a few of the factors facing second marriage children and their parents. Children of a different marriage may react differently to their parent’s marriage depending on their gender,(2) age when the biological parent was divorced or widowed, the family’s income level, and the family’s size,(3) in addition to their level of communication ability.
Remember the Brady Bunch, and how the step children went through very superficial trials before becoming one big happy family? Unfortunately, real life is much more complicated. Researchers have categorized reconstituted families into five different types.(4) Depending on how well the family communicates with each other, a family may be classified as bonded, functional, ambivalent, evasive, or conflictual. It may be obvious, but it bears noting that good communication skills are the key to developing a successful second marriage.
Children have been found to have different styles of communication between themselves, their biological parent, and the step-parent. In the linked triad, the child communicates with the step-parent indirectly by passing messages through the biological parent. The outsider triad has the child communicating with the biological parent, while having limited awareness that the step-parent even exists. The adult-coalition triad features a child who thinks the two adults have formed a coalition, and the child then mistrusts both of them. In the complete triad, second marriage children communicate freely with both parents, resulting in the healthiest family function.(5)
If you are worried about your children, there are many places you can turn to for advice on improving the communication in your second marriage. Children are such an important part of your family, and you may find help at this link from Native American spiritualist and psychologist Dan Williams second marriage children marriage. He advocates two important steps to keep everyone in the loop: having regular family meetings to allow each person to express opinions; and posting written rules that are consistently followed by both adults in the home.
Dr. Williams also points out that step children have, by definition, gone through a traumatic event in their lives. You may not have considered how your divorce or the death of your first spouse affected your children, but rest assured it did have a huge impact on them. Now, your remarriage is having an effect on them as well. In addition to surfing the web, you may find that visiting a Relationship Specialist can help you, your spouse, and your second marriage children to sort out the issues your second marriage children may be experiencing and to enhance the communication skills of the entire family.
(1) Coleman, Marilyn; Ganong, Lawrence; Fine, Mark. Reinvestigating Remarriage: Another Decade of Progress. Journal of Marriage and Family 62:4 (1288-1407) 2004.
(2) Schmeeckle, Maria. Gender Dynamics in Stepfamilies: Adult Stepchildren Views. Journal of Marriage and Family 69:1 (174-189) 2007.
(3) Kerr, Don; Beaujot, Roderic. Family Relations, Low Income, and Child Outcomes: A Comparison of Canadian Children in Intact-, Step-, and Lone-Parent Families. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 43:2 (134-152). 2002
(4) Schrodt, Paul. A Typological Examination of Communication Competence and Mental Health in Stepchildren. Communication Monographs 73:2 (309-333) 2006.
(5) Baxter, Leslie A.; Braithwaite, Dawn O.; Bryant, Leah E. Types of Communication Triads Perceived by Young-Adult Stepchildren in Established Stepfamilies. Communication Studies 57:4 (381-400) 2006.
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