Two characteristics of reconstituted families


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  • Created on: 29-05-12 19:51
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Identify and explain two characteristics of reconstituted families.
A reconstituted family is one where one or both partners have had a previous relationship,
and one or both partners bring children from the previous relationship, creating step
One characteristic of reconstituted families is that they are increasingly involved in joint
parenting of children from partner's previous relationship.
ONS says 10% of families with dependent children are step-families. Many families
where the parents cohabit are step families.
Since the 1989 Children's Act the aim of social policy is that children should have
contact with both natural parents, because it is believed to be better for the children.
Smart & Neale (2000) who studied joint parenting argued it can, however, create
conflict between the parents and therefore put great strain on the children. Groups like
Fathers 4 Justice have campaigned for fathers' rights of access after divorce,
believing that otherwise women `have everything: a job / the children / often the home'
and they are left with nothing.
Another characteristic of reconstituted families would be that they have a higher failure rate
than first families. This is because
They are more complicated than `natural families', and the members are not well
prepared for this. It is harder to create a sense of `family unity' in a step family if
children have a strong tie with the absent parent or if the `household' might not feel like
`the family' and still carries memories of the original family.
Step-parenting cause problems for the parents since some of the worst cases of child
abuse involve step-fathers. An example of this would be the death of Baby P caused by
the mother and her boyfriend. Relationships between step-parents and step-children can
be problematic with most cases involve step father raping step daughters.
Problems might also come from the previous relationship: eg a lack of money for
the new family because of the costs of ending the first relationship; disputes with a
previous partner over access to children can also cause stress within the step family.


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