Step-parenting from the child's perspective

Modern Family
ABC's "Modern Family" features Rico Rodriguez as Manny, his mother Gloria, played by Sofia Vergara, and his step-father Jay, played by Ed O'Neill.

When researchers from Brigham Youngs University's School of Social Work realized that most research on stepfamilies focuses on adults rather than children, they set out to make up for that gap.

Kevin Shafer and Todd Jensen spoke with looked at data about children who live in households with a mother and stepfather to see how the children perceive the relationships with their stepfamilies.

"Professor Shafer described two mistakes couples commonly make in the transition: acting as though nothing has changed, or leaving the majority of the active parenting to the mother (although when the stepfather assumes too much authority too soon, children also report feeling frustrated)," reports The New York Times. "Children want to see their mother and stepfather get along, but that alone is not enough -- they also need to feel that they can still count on their mother to hear and respond to their feelings about their stepfather and their new family. That, the researchers suggest, may make children less prone to hold resentful feelings toward their stepfathers, and more able to find a connection."

Shafer joins The Daily Circuit to discuss his research, along with Lawrence Ganong from the University of Missouri.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.


Stepfamily Functioning and Closeness: Children's Views on Second Marriages and Stepfather Relationships Jensen and Shafer's paper on stepfamilies.

A Portrait of Stepfamilies Research on the demographics of stepfamilies from Pew.

Nation Stepfamily Resource Center Resources from the Auburn University's Center for Children, Youth, and Families.