Parenting apart: patterns of childrearing after marital disruption.
Divorce and remarriage have become prominent features of American life. Today many parents divide their attention and resources among 2 or more families, and children frequently grow up with multiple parents. Using a nationally representative household sample or children, this study describes relations among parents, steoparents, and children after separation and divorce. Results suggest that most children have little contact with their nonresident parents, and what contact there is tends to be social rather than instrumental. Most children who see their parents on a more or less regular basis do not complain about the amount of love or attention they receive. The data do not seem to support the speculations of a number of researchers and clinicians that stepfamily life is frequently affliated with problems created by the presence of a multitude of parents. The significance of biological parenthood may be waning in response to the emerging pattern of conjugal succession. Biological ties to children seem to count for less, sociological ties or more. Like marriage, childbearing and childbearing are processes that have become dictated less by constraint and obligation and determined more by voluntary participation. (author's modified)