Blended families, also known as remarriages or stepfamilies, are among the modern types of families in the world. Data collection methods on blended families are limited since the US government has never collected data on stepfamilies. There is inadequate information on these types of families since only some small groups and organizations have attempted to collect data. These groups provide relevant statistics on the complex structure of stepfamilies, but there may be shortfalls in their analysis and descriptions. This essay will take a deeper look into the nature and structure of blended families, emphasizing their cultural context.
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Recent data on families across the US states that 16% of children live in what is referred to as blended families by the Census Bureau (“American family today,” 2020). To better understand a blended family structure, it is defined as a household with stepparents, half-siblings, or stepsiblings. The number has been stable since the early 1900s when reliable information was availed to the public (“American family today,” 2020). During that time, 15% of children were already in stepfamily households (“American family today,” 2020). Currently, 12% of children live with half-siblings and 8% with stepparents. In the US, six out of ten (63%) of remarried women are in stepfamilies, and half of their remarriages involve children. Approximately 17% of Black and Hispanic children live with stepparents and stepsiblings in the US, and 15% of White children (“American family today,” 2020). Only a few Asian children, 7%, live in blended families with half-siblings (“American family today,” 2020).
The debate over the state of the family as an institution continues in these early years of the new millennium. It includes an increasing number of divorces, Americans living with partners outside marriages, and an increasing number of children living with single parents. Additionally, many parents are avoiding responsibilities, and blended marriage is becoming popular (McCarthy, n.d.). These family structure changes contribute to fewer families with married parents, an increase in blended families, and more children living with stepparents. The current family arrangements differ from native American family arrangements, and conservatives believe that these trends indicate the gradual demise of the family institution. Other conservatives believe that the marriage institution is not dying but changing in structure and form.
The speed at which these blended families are emerging is interesting. According to the US Bureau of Census, approximately 1300 new blended families emerge every day in the US (McCarthy, n.d.). Additionally, 14% of families in the United States are stepfamilies (McCarthy, n.d.). The real-world examples of blended families include one of the most celebrated unions between American footballer Russell Wilson, singer Ciara, and their baby. Russel Wilson married singer Ciara early this year in a colorful wedding ceremony. Funnyman Steve Harvey also has a blended union with his wife Marjorie and their seven children.
Culturally, an overarching campaign of social movement during the 1960s and 1970s advocated for recognizing diverse cultures and lifestyles (McCarthy, n.d.). This movement campaigned for various family styles, such as gay marriages, blended families, and childless marriages (McCarthy, n.d.). Additionally, the new family trends have contributed to several changes in the media shows. For example, traditional television shows like Donna Reed have been replaced with shows about new family trends, such as Father Knows Best.
Sociologically interpreting the findings, almost half of the unions in the US have at least one partner from a previous union. More than half of all remarriages in the US involve partners with children. Remarriages and stepfamily formation may differ because not all involve parents. A blended family is a legal union or cohabiting, whereby at least one partner has a child from previous unions. It is estimated that 30% of children in the US will be in blended families in the not far future (“American family today,” 2020).
McCarthy, K. (n.d.). Blended family statistics: A deeper look into the structure. LoveToKnow. Web.
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The American family today (2020). Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. Web.