The prevalent myth about wicked step-parents continues to reinforce the notion that the non-biological
father or mother cannot nurture and care for a child as well as the biological parent. Yet a recently
published US study in the Journal of Marriage and Family (August 2008) has found that when it comes to
at-risk urban families, stepfathers make slightly better parents than biological dads.
Lawrence Berger, the lead author of the study, reveals that the greatest difference between stepfathers and married biological ones wasn’t in the parenting of the children per se, but the fact that, according to the 2098 women surveyed, the stepfathers were more inclined than natural fathers to share a mother’s parenting views, have higher levels of engagement with the children and higher level of cooperation in parenting.
Berger speculates that this was because men who married women with children might have a greater interest in parenting while married biological fathers may be more inclined to adopt the role of breadwinner.
Stepfathers may often inherit a full-time family as their new partners are more likely have custody of the children. Stepfathers, like stepmothers, navigate the boundaries of familial life and socially sanctioned biological rights. Like their biological counterparts they want to support their partner, participate in a meaningful way within the family structure and even assert their values and morals into the mix.
With stepfamilies predicted as the family of the 21st century – in Australia alone the figure for blended or step families sits at around 20 per cent – an ever increasing number of non biological carers are investing considerable time and energy into looking after the future generation.
Steve Martin from Stepfamilies Australia says that while there is great support for biological families who separate, once the parents re-partner, that help is almost non-existent. He also says that it is vital to ensure that adequate resources and greater support are made available for those people who are undertaking the sometimes thankless task of helping raise their partner’s children.
With Father’s Day fast approaching it is important to remember that being a stepparent does not necessarily mean that they feel less responsibility towards those minors in their care. Like the many wonderful dads out there stepfathers too should be applauded for their generosity of spirit, their courage and commitment.
Source: Stepfamilies Australia