Family lawyers in Pasadena have witnessed changes in the way stepfamilies have evolved. Long gone are the "Brady Bunch" blended families of yesteryear. Instead, today's blended families are choosing different approaches to the age-old stepmother and stepfather issues.
According to a recent piece in The New York Times, couples are finding new ways to stay together without blending their families completely. Partial blenders, for example, are couples with children who only live part-time together. Living Apart Togethers or L.A.T.s, on the other hand, are couples that maintain separate residences in an attempt to give children a sense of normalcy.
Sociologist Susan Stewart, who studies the changes in families over time, notes that new solutions for blended families were bound to happen.
"The complexity of families is the real story," Stewart says. "Family life is not what it was. The divorce rate has been high and stable since the 1980s. The majority of these people go on to marry or cohabit. Then there's the change in custody patterns, with more and more fathers desiring more time with their children, if not full or shared custody. The traditional family - the married couple/biological children family - is in the minority."
Stewart also says that another reason the traditional blended family is out of date is because most divorced women have careers and money of their own, making the need to remarry less urgent than it once was. Psychologists like Patricia Papernow point out that sometimes separate residences can help children avoid tough emotional adjustments. The battles between stepchildren and stepparents, in addition to the often-traumatic relocation ramifications, can be solved if parents of blended families look for new ways to be together, Papernow notes.
"We have to think outside the box," she adds. "If you have to live in two boxes instead of one, that's a much better solution than shoving everyone together in one box."