Do Relationships with a Stepfather Hold Together when the Kids Grow Up?

04Close to a third of American kids will be in a stepfamily at some point, most of them living with their biological mother and a stepfather. When those kids become young adults, will the relationship with the stepfather hold up?

That’s a question that researchers at Penn State have been exploring, and their findings were published in the June edition of the Journal of Family and Marriage.

“Relationships between stepparents and stepchildren and negotiating parenting roles between two sets of parents can cause strain in newly formed stepfamilies,” researcher Valarie King, professor and director of the Penn State Family Demography Training Program, said in a written statement. “Given that children usually live primarily with their mothers when biological parents separate, we wanted to focus on the relationship between adolescents and stepfathers and how they change and develop over time.”

King and Ph.D. candidate Rachel Lindstrom found that the quality of the stepchild’s relationship with other relatives determined how good the relationship was with the stepfather. “Stepchildren who reported feeling close to their mothers also had a closer relationship to their stepfathers and reported stronger feelings of family belonging in adolescence,” they said. (Read More)

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