When you re-partnered, you probably envisioned a family, blended and made stronger by your new union. You and your partner had high hopes and dreams for your new family. If you were a woman without children, you may have looked forward to the nurturing role of stepmom and plunged yourself head first into the stepmother role, vowing to be the best stepmother ever. If you’re a father, you may have seen your new partner as compensation for the divorce and mess that you wanted to leave behind. You would finally get the intact family you always wanted. Then Reality hit….
1. The divorce rate for second marriages, when only one partner has children, is over 65%. When both partners have children, the rate rises to 70%.
2. As of 2011, more than four-in-ten American adults have at least one steprelative in their family – either a stepparent, a step or half sibling or a stepchild, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center survey. People with steprelatives are just as likely as others to say that family is the most important element of their life. However, they typically feel a stronger sense of obligation to their biological family members (be it a parent, a child or a sibling) than to their steprelatives, the survey finds.
3. 80% of children of divorce and remarriage do not have behavior problems, despite the expectations and challenges, compared to 90% of children of first marriage families
4. Study after study shows that divorce and remarriage do not harm children–parental conflict does.
5. Love and care between non-biological members in a stepfamily may or may not happen.
6. On average, couples in stepfamilies have three times the amount of stress of couples in first marriages during the first few years.
7. The average stepfamily takes 7 years to integrate.
8. Fewer than 20% of young adult stepchildren feel close to their stepmoms. The divorce rate in remarriages is greater than those in first marriages, frequently because the stepmother is unpopular; she is often caught in the middle, expected to be nurturer of sometimes difficult and suspicious children.
9. The stepmother/teen stepdaughter is the most difficult relationship in the stepfamily.
10. After studying almost 1,400 families and more than 2,500 children. — some of them for three decades — trailblazing researcher E. Mavis Hetherington finds that about 75% to 80% of children from divorced homes are “coping reasonably well and functioning in the normal range.”
11. About 70% of kids in stepfamilies are “pretty happy,” Hetherington says. And 40% of couples in stepfamilies were able to build “stable, reasonably satisfying marriages.”
12. Stepmothers have higher rates of depression than biological mothers.
Don’t lose hope! Mary has helped thousands of step-couples stay together, shed unrealistic expectations about what they think their new stepfamily should look like and learn how to focus and balance the couple relationship and parental responsibilities.
Given these tough realities, it’s critical to work with someone who specializes in the common challenges that only second families face. Mary is that person!