22 Pages

Stepfamilies in 1984 and Today—A Scholarly Perspective

WithMarilyn Ihinger-Tallman, Kay Pasley

Almost two decades have passed since family scholars began to systematically investigate the phenomenon of remarriage and stepfamily formation. Divorce and its consequences attracted the attention of family scholars in the early 1970s; however, little attention was paid to the fact that most divorced people also remarried. Researchers were slow to show interest in marital transitions beyond that of divorce. Some early exceptions were Bernard (1956), Bohannan (1970), and Duberman (1975). Further, most researchers were slow to acknowledge the differences between stepfamilies and first-marriage families. This acknowledgment came first from clinicians and others in the helping professions who brought these differences to the attention of researchers (see as examples, Berkowitz, 1970; Bitterman, 1968; Fast & Cain, 1966; Visher & Visher, 1978a & 1978b). We credit Cherlin’s 1978 article that suggested remarriage was an “incomplete institution” as the catalyst that called attention to the difficulties inherent in remarriage and the stepfamilies that form after remarriage to researchers.