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Unformatted text preview: Soc 120: Marriage and the Family
Lecture 22: Remarriage and Stepfamilies Prof. Elwert Review Divorce Effects Women Men Children Distress vs disorder Limited evidence for detrimental effect on academic achievement Causality vs selection!
on average- kids of divorce have lower academic scores 1 More on Causation vs Selection Central topic. It will be your constant companion. Lots of things are associated, but that doesn't mean that they cause each other. Always ask: are two phenomena related (associated) because one causes the other, or just by coincidence (selection)? What may be behind the coincidence? Examples The number of firefighters at the scene is positively associated with fire damage. Do >firefighters cause >damage? Blond people live longer on average. Would dying your hair change your life expectancy? Children of divorce, on average, have lower test scores. Would they have higher test scores had they not experienced divorce? Preview Remarriage & Stepfamilies Some statistics Kinship Effects on children 2 1. more marriages end in Remarriage: Some Stats 9 out of 10 remarriages follow divorce, not death Within 5 years of divorce, 60% repartner (trend upward) Within 5 years of divorce, 40% of people remarry (trend downward)
(Benokraitis 2007, p.485, Cherlin) divorce rather than death 2. most marriages that end in death end because of age Trends in Remarriage
Proportion of Divorced Persons who Remarry
90 85 80 75 70 65 60 55 50 86 80 83 78 78 72 78 69 trend in remarriage is going down Percent 1970 1980 Men 1988 Women 1995 3 Average Duration until Remarriage
3 2.5 2
Years 2.8 2.4 1.6 0.9 1.6 1.7 2.4 1.5 1 0.5 0 1970 1.4 1980 Men 1988 Women 1995 Stepfamily Formation Need to consider cohabiting stepfamilies--not just marriages; if not, we substantially underestimate the prevalence of stepfamilies Approx 2/3 of stepfamilies formed through cohabitation, not marriage From the other perspective, about 40% of all cohabiting couples have children (i.e., can be considered stepfamilies) 1/3 of stepfamilies preceded by nonmarital birth 4 Rise in Cohabitation Offsets Decline in Remarriage
80 70 60
Percent 67 54 45 70 52 38 56 50 40 30 20 10 0 46 Men (w/in 5 yrs) Remarried in 1970 Remarried in 1985 Women (w/in 5 yrs) In union 1970 In union 1985 men more than women: presence of kids make Who Remarries? Men are more likely than women to remarry Younger women are more likely than older women to remarry Women with three or more children are less likely to remarry Remarriage more likely among whites than Hispanics or African Americans (within 5 years): White 50% Hispanic 30% Black 20% reparterning challenging since women usually take ownership of the kids overall: whites are most likely to remarry 5 Remarriage Instability Remarriages more likely to end in (early) divorce than first marriages Why? Causation: Remarried life itself increases divorce Greater complexity of relationships in remarriages (with children) Remarriage as an "incomplete institution"
remarried life tends to be more dif<icult than <irst- married life -->institution is a social arrangement of <ixed rules Selection: Remarried partners are different May be more willing to divorce (since have done it once) May be less skilled at finding a partner or holding a marriage together (personality traits, mental health, etc.) Defining Stepfamilies Stepfamilies now outnumber traditional nuclear families in U.S. One out of 3 Americans is part of a stepfamily (stepparent, stepchild, stepsibling, etc) Two competing definitions Definition 1 (household based): Stepfamily is a household in which (a) two adults are married or cohabiting, and (b) at least one adult has a child present from a previous marriage or relationship Definition 2 (kinship based): Stepfamilies are groups of people linked by remarriage or repartnering chains and who recognize each other as family.
household de<inition: easier to count kinship de<inition: don't need to live together 6 The New Extended Family Western nations have taken for granted that a conjugal family lives in the same household until children are grown Childbearing outside marriage, increase in divorces, and remarriage have made this less likely Divorce splits conjugal unit into two households Remarriage may bring multitude of ties across households Kinship in Stepfamlies
socially constructed Creation of complex new families But extreme complexity remains rare <5% of all remarried couples have three sets of children (yours, mine, ours) ~3% of all Americans have been married three or more times. What is kinship? Note: Group boundaries (definitions of family ) often differ across people in a repartnering chain. => Increasing importance of social construction (creation and maintenance) of kinship 7 Process Transitional period (2-4 years) Stepparent: affinity seeker or polite outsider Stepchildren: acceptance or resistance depending on age Stabilization period (later) Stepparent: warm friend, often not recognized as real parent Importance of supporting role Stepmother and Stepfather Differences Being a stepmother can be harder than being a stepfather. After divorce, children typically live with mother (and stepfather), so biological mother remains central figure Typical stepmother (married to non-custodial father) must establish relationship during visits of children
usually step-parent is stepfather
often mom's new husband <ills a void left by the biological father stepfathers have it easier- held to lower standards than stepmothers easier for children to accept 2 father <igures than 2 mother <igures Stepfathers compete with non-custodial fathers, who may not see children very often Often fill a vacuum left by departed biological father May be held to a lower standard than stepmothers Easier for children to accept two father figures than two mother figures 8 Effects on Children Children in stepfamilies less well off than children families with two biological parents. Well-being of children in stepfamilies comparable to that of children of divorce But severe problems are rare kids in stepfamilies are often also kids of divorce Same problem of selection vs causation as in research on divorce effects Known effect: daughters in stepfamilies leave home earlier. Possibly challenge of mother-daughter bond through remarriage. 9 ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/14/2012 for the course SOC 120 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at University of Wisconsin.
- Fall '08