South Lake Tahoe, CA, October 04, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- “These results turn conventional wisdom on its head,” says Stacey James Wheeler, the survey author. “The term ‘blended family’ is a myth –or at least a misnomer. Most stepdads aren’t struggling to blend families. They’re struggling to learn how to be an instant father -with no previous experience.”
The survey results are interesting but can one nugget of information really make a difference? Wheeler thinks so. He says the study shows family and relationship experts have been working to fix the wrong problem. “There’s been too much emphasis on solving so-called ‘blended family’ problems. It turns out we’ve been focusing on the wrong issue,” says Wheeler. There’s no denying that blended families struggle. There’s been a large effort to help these couples succeed. As it turns out, they represent less than one in five of all the families in this category. The other 80% of these couples have fallen through the cracks. Little research has been done on their challenges. If the high divorce rate is any indication, these couples need more help. “Nearly 70% of these couple won’t last ten years,” says Wheeler. “Lowering the divorce rate by focusing on a small percentage of couples is like trying to treat obesity by banning sugary drinks. There’s a bigger issue we’re ignoring.”
So what is the bigger issue? The numbers are staggering. A full 70% of the men surveyed said they felt unappreciated. More than half said their parenting role wasn’t defined and they had regular arguments over how to raise the kids. These issues seem to be linked. The stress in these relationships leads to remarried mothers being twice as likely to be left by their husbands “The challenge is how to help new stepdads settle into their parenting role.” says Wheeler. Feeling unappreciated seems to stem from not understanding the role they’re expected to play. “Most of these guys have never been a parent and don’t take the time to talk about it with their partner before joining the family.” In what seems to be the ultimate on-the-job training, most new Stepdads have to learn how to be a parent without understanding what’s expected of them. “These guys wrestle with how to make it work and most of them quit before they figure out how,” says Wheeler.
Though the study results expose a fallacy, Wheeler says the findings are positive. He believes the information will help couples understand the roadblocks and avoid them. “It’s obvious communication is the cure.” says Wheeler. “We’ve put too much emphasis on solving blended family problems and not enough on instant-father struggles.” It seems like a simple formula: If couples talk about the husband’s role and the wife’s expectations men are less likely to leave. “We’re all so busy nowadays. Some things are worth taking the time for.” says Wheeler. “If every couple took a few weekends to plan and talk about these issues before they got married, more couples would avoid divorce.”