15 Pages

Stepfamilies from the Stepfamily’s Perspective

WithMarilyn Coleman, Lawrence H. Ganong

There is considerable evidence that what individuals believe about marriage, parenting, and family life influences their expectations and behaviors in intimate relationships (Bradbury & Fincham, 1990; Dallos, 1993; Kurdek, 1991). Individuals’ beliefs about family life are influenced by experiences in their family of origin, by media, by cultural standards, by observing other families, and, in the case of remarried adults, by their experiences in their previous families of procreation. All of these present and reinforce, to varying degrees, a view of family life that is based on a nuclear family idealogy. Of course, personal experiences in families and mediated images of families are not uniform, and variations in these experiences and images help explain the wide range of family life behaviors that may be observed. However, even personal experiences are interpreted and evaluated within the context of a prevailing cultural ideology about families. It is our position that a combination of idiosyncratic beliefs and cultural perspectives/ideology influence individuals’ views of their marital and familial experiences.