Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Resilience in Stepfamilies

As we watch the trends in marriage and divorce in the U.S., we know that for some time now the divorce rate has hovered right around 50 percent. For many families, divorce is followed by remarriage.

In an effort to identify the strengths and weaknesses in remarried families and how they might best succeed, research recently published in the American Journal of Family Therapy studied 38 remarried families with children to determine what made some more resilient than others.

The study found that there were several important resilience factors in these remarried families. What mattered most was that stepfamilies had a love and respectful bond, communicated in caring and loving ways, could manage stressful situations, and spent more time together.

These successful families also have “a strong marriage relationship” as well as strong social supports from friends and family. “Spirituality and religion” also helped a family’s resilience by giving them a feeling that there was “meaning and purpose beyond crisis situations.”

These researchers conclude that remarriages are more successful when families see themselves as “challenged by adversity” rather than what some view as damaged because their previous marriages had failed. They suggest that pre-marital and family enrichment programs can help build the skills that will help these families overcome adversity and increase their chance of success.

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