Young people report significantly higher levels of conflict in stepfamilies and lone-parent families than in intact families. Stepfamilies in particular create new sources of tension. Living in a stepfamily is not easy. In addition to all the challenges of ilies involve numerous pressures and tensions from raising children who have different parents. Numerous issues can arise in terms of forming a single family unit, including discipline, issues about financial provision for the different children, and difficulties in relationships between the children. There can also be issues of resentment of step-children and competition for time and attention. Children from stepfamilies are less likely to complete year 12 at school than children in intact families or with a lone parent.
The loss of family stability in turn has effects in relation to children’s safety. Children, and especially girls, are at much greater risk of sexual abuse from the presence of men living in the household who are not biologically related to them than from their own fathers. For example, Diana Russell’s landmark study of 930 women in San Francisco found that one in six girls who had grown up with a stepfather were sexually abused by him. (more…)