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Journal Article

Do Mutual Children Cement Bonds in Stepfamilies?

Lawrence H. Ganong and Marilyn Coleman
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 50, No. 3 (Aug., 1988), pp. 687-698
DOI: 10.2307/352638
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352638
Page Count: 12
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Do Mutual Children Cement Bonds in Stepfamilies?
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Abstract

Clinicians and authors of self-help books offer conflicting advice about whether remarried couples in stepfamilies should reproduce or not. The purpose of the study was to determine empirically the effect of the presence of a mutual child on marital adjustment, step- and parent-child relations, and stepfamily affect. Data were obtained through interviews with 105 midwestern stepfamilies; 39 had reproduced together. The Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) and Inventory of Family Feelings (IFF) were used as measures of marital adjustment and family affect, along with several scales measuring frequency of disagreements, handling of disagreements, number of marital problems, and disagreements over rules for children. In addition, three questions were asked to determine remarriage perceptions compared to the previous marriage, other couples, and premarital expectations. Parent-child closeness was assessed with one question in addition to the IFF. There were no significant differences between families with mutual children and those without. It was also not possible to predict which families were most likely to reproduce together except in the case of stepfather families. Children were most likely to be born to stepfathers who were young or had never had a child and had not been married previously. This study found that relationships in stepfamilies in which the remarried couple had reproduced together did not differ from relationships in stepfamilies that had no mutual child.

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