Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How stepdads can avoid missteps

Date:
April 8, 2013
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
A new study found three factors that contribute to feelings of closeness in stepfamilies: the couple keeps arguments to a minimum; mothers help children feel comfortable sharing their frustrations; and the stepfather and mother agree on how to parent.

As any stepdad can tell you, it's one thing to win a mom's heart and another to win over her children.

Related Articles


Although one-third of American children live in a stepfamily during part of their childhood, little is known about the development of the relationship between stepfathers and stepchildren.

New research from Brigham Young University fills that gap with a study that identified three factors that significantly contribute to closeness in stepfamilies:

  • The couple keeps arguments to a minimum
  • Mothers help children feel comfortable sharing their frustrations
  • The stepfather and mother agree on how to parent

BYU professor Kevin Shafer's research on stepfamilies appears in the academic journal Social Work.

"Family roles can be negotiated and there is going to be some bumpiness," said Shafer, who teaches and researches in BYU's School of Social Work. "The notion that couples should put the couple first and everything else will fall into place is false."

Shafer and BYU grad student Todd Jensen analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 1,088 children in stepfamilies. From the children's perspective, frustrations occur when the new dad assumes too much parental authority or when he disrupts the family's normal way of doing things.

"Moms need to let their children know that it's ok to talk if they have a problem with their stepfather because everybody is still trying to figure out this new family dynamic," Shafer said.

And the lack of history between stepdads and children amplifies the detrimental effects of parental conflict.

"Full-blown arguments set up stepfamilies for failure," Shafer said.

Couples typically make one of two mistakes in the transition. The first type involves the couple acting as though nothing major has changed -- that the new father is a replacement instead of an addition. The second type of mistake is for mom to take upon herself all of the parenting.

The common thread in both scenarios is that the children's voices are missing.

"If you have teenagers, they should be a pretty active participant in discussions of what the family is going to look like and how the family is going to function," Shafer said.

The study contains one pleasant surprise: Communicating openly and avoiding arguments contributes to closeness regardless of family income or education level.

"It really is the interpersonal dynamic that predicts family closeness," Shafer said. "You can build these bonds in spite of financial challenges."

Jensen appears as a co-author on the paper and will receive a master's degree in social work from BYU this month.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham Young University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. M. Jensen, K. Shafer. Stepfamily Functioning and Closeness: Children's Views on Second Marriages and Stepfather Relationships. Social Work, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/sw/swt007

Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "How stepdads can avoid missteps." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408184644.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2013, April 8). How stepdads can avoid missteps. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408184644.htm
Brigham Young University. "How stepdads can avoid missteps." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408184644.htm (accessed April 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins