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23 Pages

Stepfamilies from Siblings’ Perspectives

WithAnne C. Bernstein

Despite an encouraging proliferation in the study of stepfamilies in the past twenty-five years, the relationship between the children of a parent’s earlier partnership and the children born to a remarriage remains an under-explored area of investigation. Most of the literature investigates relationships that include at least one of the adults in the stepfamily (Pasley & Ihinger-Tallman, 1987). While a few studies assess the impact of the birth of a mutual child on the stepparent-stepchild relationship, (Ganong & Coleman, 1988; Ambert, 1986; Santrock & Sitterle, 1987); the nature of the relationship among the children is not discussed. While Duberman (1975) looked at the child subsystem, the quality of the halfsibling bond was not examined and ratings were based exclusively on adult reports of their children and stepchildren. Children’s accounts of their own experience have only recently been introduced into the literature (Ganong & Coleman, 1993; Beer, 1991; Bernstein, 1989a). This relative lack of information about sibling relationships in stepfamilies is, however, congruent with the relative neglect in the study of siblings in general (Bank and Kahn, 1982).