Hawkins and Booth (2005) analyzed longitudinal data of spouses in unhappy marriages over a twelve-year period and found that those who stayed unhappily married had lower life satisfaction, self-esteem, and overall health compared to those who divorces whether or not they remarry. Similarly, Gardner and Oswald92006) found that the psychological functioning and happiness of spouses going through divorce improved after the divorce- hence divorce was good for them(choices in relationship, pg 496-497). So if a child sees there parents unhappy with lower life satisfaction and self esteem, I think that can rub off on that child and it wont be long before that child feels the same. So there are various reasons why stepfamilies may be better than the traditional nuclear family. First off, you‘ll have happier parents. The children can now see there parents in a happier relationship. When the kids can see how happy the parents are, the happiness may spill over into the context of family living so that there is less tension and conflict(choices in relationships, pg. 535).
Another way that stepfamilies may be better is that the children gain extra siblings. Though some children reject their new stepsiblings, others are enriched by the opportunity to live with a new person to whom they are now “related”. One 14 year-old remarked, “ I have never had an older brother to do things with. We both like to do the same things and I couldn’t be happier about the new situation.” I can definitely relate because I am part of a stepfamily. While I am super close with my nuclear siblings , growing up they were 8- 15 years older than me. So I kind of felt alone and when I came into a stepfamily it was nice to now have siblings my age and to have little brothers and sisters that I could do things with.
Also, a way that stepfamilies are better is that the child has more than one parent to go to in times of need. Whether the child just needs someone to talk to or help with finances, that one of the nuclear parent can’t help with at that time. Some parents have difficulty discussing certain issues or topics. A stepparent often has the advantage of being less emotionally involved and can relate to a child at a different level.(choices in relationships, pg. 535) In my experience, there had been times when one of my parents were not financially stable at the time and couldn’t afford to help me pay for things like field trips to visit colleges, S.A.T./ A.C.T.’s, college applications, etc. Thankfully my stepparent was able and willing to help me out. So yes, in some ways stepfamilies are better.