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Remarriage and Stepfamilies

  • By: Marilyn Coleman, Lawrence Ganong & Tyler Jamison
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

A stepfamily is one in which at least one of the adults has a child (or children) from a previous relationship. A stepparent is an adult whose partner has at least one child from a previous relationship. A stepchild is a person whose parent (or parents) is partnered with someone who is not the child's biological or adoptive parent. These definitions are broad enough to include all forms of stepfamilies—remarried, cohabiting, and same-sex couples with children. Although other terms have been used to label stepfamilies (e.g., blended, reconstituted, second time around), often to avoid the stigma associated with the step- prefix (for example, stepmother evokes the image of a mean and wicked woman, and stepchild is often used as a metaphor for someone or something ...

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