Dominant Social Myths / Reconstructed Myths

Part 1

Week 6: Dominant Social Myths

Describe the dominant social myths about mutual child step families and examine the features of each that appear most damaging to creating the step family unit. Minimum 350 words

Part 2

Week 6: Reconstructed Myths

As a counselor in training, evaluate a minimum of 3 reconstructed myths and share your ideas on why they would be helpful in understanding the mutual child aspect of blended families. Minimum 350 words

Please read the following for this week as well as All Week 6 Online Course Materials:

·  Gold, J. M. (2015). Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm. Wiley.

o Chapter 7 

· Amato, P.R. (n.d.) Living in a Stepfamily: The Child’s View 

Week 6: Overview

Mutual Child Stepfamilies

Finding your place in the world is a life long process.  Being able to create your identity can be difficult with the residual stressors of family, community, religion, and other forces that push back to force you into a corner.  These challenges are hard for a typical family, imagine the depth of struggle for stepfamilies. 

Children’s challenges can sometimes go unheard.  As you read through Chapter 7, Mutual Child Stepfamilies, the text begins to shine a light on the difficulties they may face in the stepfamily dynamic.  Moreover, the text shares about the experiences of mutual-child stepfamilies, the dominant social myths about mutual child stepfamilies, and myth reconstruction with implications.

For week 6, you will be asked to read Chapter 7 closely, read the article “Living in a Stepfamily: The Child’s View”, and complete your discussion post.  There is not a reflection assignment this week.


By the end of this week, students will:

· Discuss the experiences of mutual child stepfamilies

· Discuss the dominant social myths about mutual child stepfamilies

· Reconstruct myths about mutual child stepfamilies.

Week 6: Lecture

Experiences of Mutual Child Stepfamilies

Stepfamilies often experience varying degrees of emotional and interpersonal changes when children are involved.  While the research does not offer any clear cut answers to coping with these challenges when they arise, the research does in fact, provide stages to be aware of that may increase the likelihood of a successful blend.

There are three stages mentioned that offer some help.  In stage 1, the early stage, adults attempt to create an instant family and the children still hold onto hope of mutual parents reconciling.  In stage 2, the middle stage, adults and children have some common ground but there are elements of considering termination.  In stage 3, the established remarriage stage, genuine connections have been made and all parties involved feel like insiders- no more margins.

Limited research neither supports nor negates the fact that a mutual child will improve the emotional bonds of a step family.

Week 6: Lecture

Dominant Social Myths of Mutual Child Stepfamilies

This section provides dialogue on the dominant social myths of mutual child stepfamilies. Upon close review of each of the dominant social myths, it becomes quite clear the amount of stress placed on the family and any subsequent child. The myths highlight the misunderstanding of the impact of the mutual child. For example, you are reminded that the mutual child will not glue the family together, it won’t offer stability, the mutual child may not be readily accepted, both parents may not be excited about the new addition, and the mutual child cannot be a replacement child from the first marriage. Take some time to view the presentation Validating Children in Stepfamilies by Dr. Patricia Papernow.

Week 6: Activities


Please read the following for this week as well as All Week 6 Online Course Materials:

·  Gold, J. M. (2015). Stepping In, Stepping Out: Creating Stepfamily Rhythm. Wiley.

· Chapter 7 

· Amato, P.R. (n.d.) Living in a Stepfamily: The Child’s View

National Stepfamily Resource Center[2/8/2017 2:54:21 PM]

Selected Articles


By Paul R. Amato *

What is it like to grow up in a stepfamily? This was one of the questions that guided a recent study of children in Australia. As in the United States, the divorce rate in Australia climbed dramatically during the last few decades. Presently in Australia, about one third of recent marriages are expected to end in divorce. (The comparable figure for the United States is about one-half.) Remarriage after divorce is common in Australia, as it is in the United States, and about one child in 10 in Australia lives in a stepfamily.

In the “Children in Families Study,” we wanted to find out how children experience life in different types of families. To get the child’s-eye view, we interviewed 402 children in stepfamilies, single-parent families, and traditional two-parent families. Half of these children were in PRIMARY school (age 8-9) and half were in high school (age 15-16). These interviews lasted for one hour, on average, and covered many aspects of family life, including relations with parents, rules, punishment, household chores, and family activities. My comments below are limited to stepfather families, since most of our stepfamilies fell into this category.

What did children tell us about living in stepfamilies? To begin with, children in stepfamilies are not very different from other children in many respects. For example, there are no differences between children in stepfather families and traditional two-parent families in how close they feel to their mothers, how much help they receive from their mothers, the number of rules mothers make for them, and how frequently their mothers punish them. In short, the mother-child relationship does not appear to be strongly affected by stepfamily life, at least as far as children are concerned.

Relations between children and stepfathers are, as you might expect, sometimes problematic. Although most children describe their stepfathers favorably, a few are emphatically critical of them. For example, a girl age 9 said, “He smokes and he drinks alcohol – A lot of it. He’s not very polite. He swears a lot. Just about every sentence has got a rude word in it.” And a 9-year-old boy said, “He’s a pretty mean man. Can’t think of anything else.” Nevertheless, most children report that they get along well with their stepfathers, in spite of occasional disagreements. For example, one 9-year-old boy said, ‘He acts better than my ex-father. He’s more intelligent and he doesn’t call people names.” Another 16-year-old boy said, “He’s very caring, takes a close interest in everything I do and helps to see me through at school. He makes sure I get good grades.”

We found that the longer a stepfamily has been together, the more positively children describe relationships with stepfathers. In fact, in stepfamilies that have been together for six years or more, the stepfather-stepchild relationship is as close as the father-child relationship in traditional families. This tells us that it takes time to build up trusting and supportive relationships in stepfamilies. Stepfathers are less involved in decision-making and punishment than are biological fathers in traditional families; they prefer to leave the role of “ruIe maker” and “disciplinarian” to the children’s mother. However, the longer children live in a stepfamily, the more likely they are to report that stepfathers take on these roles. Over time, from a child’s perspective, stepfathers become more like fathers in traditional families.

The quality of the child’s relationship with his or her stepfather has many implications. We found that children who have

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National Stepfamily Resource Center[2/8/2017 2:54:21 PM]

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positive relationships with stepfathers have high self-esteem; on the other hand, children with poor relationships with stepfathers have low self-esteem. This underscores the fact that stepfathers become central figures in children’s lives – for better or for worse.

Children in stepfamilies have more household responsibilities than do children in traditional two parent families. This appears to be a legacy of their time in a single-parent family when it was necessary for them to help their mothers with household tasks and management. As a result, children in stepfamilies have a relatively high level of everyday life skills, that is, they know how to prepare food, clean, and look after themselves better than do many other children.

Finally, children describe stepfamily life as being somewhat less cohesive than do children in traditional two-parent families. Children in stepfamilies are independent, and there is a tendency for family members to “go their own ways” much of the time. However, the longer the time since a stepfamily was formed, the more likely members are to do things together as a family.

In summary, our study found that most children in stepfamilies in Australia are developing well, although a small proportion are having problems adjusting to stepfamily life. Loyalty conflicts, divergent expectations, and jealousies can interfere with the development of supporting relationships in stepfamilies. Our study shows that it takes time for everyone to settle in, and for some, the amount of time involved may be frustratingly slow.

* Paul R. Amato is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Between 1983 and 1987, he was a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies in Melbourne. This article was published in the quarterly STEPFAMILIES, Winter 1990.

    • National Stepfamily Resource Center

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