A new survey reveals that more than 4 in 10 Americans count at least one step relationship in their family. The incidence of stepparents, children and step or half siblings have become more commonplace according to the survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. But while people in stepfamilies are just as likely as those who are not to say that family is important, they do favor biological relatives over step and half relations in terms of familial obligation.
Blood Is Still Thicker
While the number of adults with step-relations is growing, the gap between people’s sense of duty to blood relatives over step relations is still notable. For example, while 85% of those surveyed felt strongly about providing assistance to a biological parent in need, only 56% felt the same sense of obligation to a stepparent.
Adults with biological and step-children felt similarly with 78% willing to assist a grown biological child in need versus 62% willing to help a grown step-child.
Siblings fared much the same. Adults were 64% more likely to help out a biological brother or sister while only 42% would do so for a step or half sibling.
Family Over Friendship
However, family ties outranked friendship regardless of the origins of the tie as only 39% of those surveyed felt obligated to assist even a best friend in need.
Unsurprisingly, people under the age of 30 were most likely to report being part of a blended family. 52% of the under 30 crowd reported having at least one step relative, and they are the group most likely to have grown up with parents who were divorced, separated or never married.
Blacks were more likely than whites or Hispanics to be a part of a step-family and half of those in households earning less than $30,000 a year reported being part of a step-family also.
A Road Less Traveled
Equally unsurprising was that fact that most people in stepfamilies found that their lives were not something for which they had planned. When asked whether life had turned out as they’d hoped or expected, 54% of those in stepfamilies said it had not, compared to 40% of people who had no step relations.
But no one was particularly unhappy with his or her situation. Seven in ten adults with step relatives reported being very satisfied with their lives compared to the 78% of those not in a blended family.
Let’s Hear From You
I have been a stepparent for nearly four years, and my blended family includes my husband’s late wife’s family as well. While I would agree that it is not the family I envisioned as a young woman, it is also not riddled with the friction or fiction of a television drama either.
What have your blended family experiences been like? Do you agree with the findings of this latest survey about the secret lives of stepfamilies? Let’s hear from you.
Photo credit: Family Hike by Woodleywonderworks