Here’s the Story: Blended Families on Rise in America

Divorce is remaking American families – and actually making them larger – with important implications for the way American households families function, a new study finds.

The proliferation of stepchildren, half-siblings, and other extended relationships is enlarging American families by as much as 66 percent.

It raises new issues on how we all get along -- not just for Christmas dinner, but year 'round.

Family life experts says putting people together shouldn't be like a blender -- where everything's all spun to mush -- but more like a crock pot, where people grow warmer together slowly.

Almost one-third of American households headed by adults under age 55 have at least one stepparent, according data analysis by the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Dr. Emily Wiemers and colleagues.

The study also found that, among couples over 55 who have adult children, 33 percent have a stepchild.

For Americans with grown children, counting stepchildren boosts the total number of adult kids by 66 percent, the study found.

Bowling Green sociology professor Karen Benjamin Guzzo tells Bloomberg News: “People in stepfamilies are often unsure of what their obligations are to their stepkin. It’s not uncommon for individuals to feel like they have to choose how to spread resources across their biological and step-relatives.”

The keys to blended family success, experts say, include communication and inclusion on all sides.

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