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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Summer Boone on Friday February 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HDFS 2100 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Chalandra M. Bryant in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 163 views. For similar materials see Development within the Family in HDFS at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 02/05/16
HDFS 2/4/2016 Communication in Stepfamilies Authors: Marilyn Coleman, Ed. D. (University of Missouri-Columbia) Lawrence Ganong, Ph. D (University of Missouri-Columbia) Mark Fine, Ph. D (University of N.C at Greensboro) Background on Stepfamilies Formed when an adult with a child/children enters a new union Common in Western societies due to divorce and unmarried motherhood 17% of children under 18 yrs. In U.S lived in stepparent households 30% all children in U.S will live in stepparent household some time before reaching adulthood Growing population of adults who remarry and cohabit later in life Pre-Stepfamily Communication Communication processes occurring before the remarriage/cohabitation cycle play a critical role in stepfamily interaction and subsequent development Mothers are more likely to have custody of children, resulting in very close mother-child relationships Children may have concerns that influence communication Stepfamily Communication: Early Years Many critical issues have to be navigated in the early years of stepfamily formation Boundary setting, conflict resolution, power, negotiation of roles Factors that influence communication: Early Years Relatively short time between divorce & remarriage Little time for stepfamily members to discuss potentially important issues, build relationships, & to prepare for stepfamily life Some members have long-term relationships (parent-child), whereas others are in new relationships (stepparent-stepchild, stepsiblings) Family Systems Theory & Stepfamilies Clinicians describe importance of middle ground for families Middle ground: area of experiences/values that makes being together easier Brings stability to stepfamilies (but isn’t easy to acquire) Early communication & shared realistic assumptions tasks that need to be accomplished help stepfamilies to reach a middle ground faster Middle ground must be renegotiated as new transitions occur (babies born, moving, etc.) What Leads to Negative Communication 1 2 yrs. of stepfamily life are particularly stressful Unrealistic expectations st Family should function like nuclear family (normal family/1 marriage) Stepkin should instantly love & care for one another Stepfamily will heal wounds from previous family units Difficult period when children enter adolescence Stepparent-Stepchild Relationship Continuous Affinity-Seeking Consistent & regular attempts to elicit liking from stepchildren, before & after remarriage Most positive outcomes Early Affinity-Seeking Initial attempts to connect with stepchildren, but few attempts after remarriage Non-Affinity Seeking Very few attempts at any time to connect with stepchildren Conflict in Stepfamilies 4 main issues: Disagreement over resources Do/don’t want to mix together what both people brought into remarriage Loyalty conflicts Where the loyalty lies (child vs. spouse) “Guard and protect” ideology “I’ll handle my child by myself and you stay out of it” Conflict with extended family members Communication in Established Stepfamilies 2 views on what makes an “established stepfamilnd rd Start to think & act like family after 2 or 3 year Become established after abandoning fantasies, sorting out their feelings & communicate them to other family members, & replace unrealistic expectations Patterns of Communication Brady Bunch Stepfamilies st Function as 1 marriage families Prior family members aren’t mentioned Clinicians describe as unrealistic, unprepared, and in denial Some are successful at establishing this model however May be explained by gradual movement to this model Detached Stepparents/Engaged Parents Some stepfamilies, the stepparent is less involved with stepchildren Some stepfathers how little affect towards stepchildren, engage in little supervision/control, or are completely disengaged Communication mostly focuses on couple issues, parenting is left to mother Interaction between stepfather and stepchild is minimal Couple-Focused Stepfamilies Formed primarily to meet adults’ need for a partner Stepparent disengaged from parent-related activities on purpose Oder stepfamilies more likely to choose this style Progressive Stepfamilies Some stepfamilies develop communication & interaction patterns that are adaptive to complexity of their families Conflicts with former spouses resolved Good communicators and problem solvers Flexible external boundaries and communicate about issues that are unique to their situation Communication in Stepfamilies: Later Life Women more likely to see improvements in stepfamily relationships over time Mon provided services & support for stepchildren, no resentment towards biological fathers Marital Satisfaction greatest in late life marriages (60-75 yrs. old) Self-disclosure and conflict-resolution strategies important in these remarriages
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