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Could stepfamilies brighten kids' future after a divorce?

Divorce can be hard on kids who are affected by it. Some studies have suggested children of divorced parents often end up in unhappy marriages themselves. But new studies show something different: the positive influence of stepfamilies and seeing a parent's happy second marriage.

According to the Wall Street Journal, recent studies have shown that divorces can have mixed long-term effects on the children involved. They have also found that people can build happy marriages when they grow up. And they owe a lot of that to family influence.

One study by the Pew Research Center reportedly finds that kids' marriages later in life may benefit if their parent remarries after a divorce. 70 percent of respondents apparently said they are very satisfied with their family lives. In addition, 60 percent of kids who grew up with stepfamilies said their own marriages were better than their biological parents' marriages.

However, the Wall Street Journal reports, the Pew Center study also finds that many people tend to feel a stronger obligation, both personally and financially, to their biological relatives than their step-relatives.

There are ways for parents to help their children after a divorce. It's generally best to allow the biological parent to do the disciplining to avoid an adversarial relationship between a new stepparent and a child. And rather than mandate group outings, letting kids get to know step siblings on a gradual and independent basis may work best.

In any case, these recent studies show that a "modern family" - like the famous TV show - may be a good thing for children and their happiness.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Happier marriages for kids of divorce?," Sue Shellenbarger, 5 July 2011

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Law Offices of Rodger C. Daley

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