Step-parenting in the 1990s

Elsa Ferri and Kate Smith

With the seemingly inexorable rise in divorce rate and 'repartnership' following relationship breakdown, membership of a stepfamily has become increasingly common among both adults and children in Britain.

The aim of this study was to shed light on patterns of parenting in stepfamily homes, by examining the employment, domestic and child-rearing arrangements of both biological parents and step-parents in a large national sample of 33-year-olds living in stepfamilies.

The study finds that stepfamilies and 'first' families are very similar but differ in important ways and may face greater economic and emotional pressures.