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Is there a link between stepchildren and divorce?

Television producer Sherwood Schwartz came up the idea for the popular 70's sitcom, "The Brady Bunch," after reading an article in The Los Angeles Times. What stood out to the Hollywood creator was a singular fact in the story: 30 percent of marriages in the United States have a child or children from a previous marriage.

Blended family as seen on TV

The syndication portrayed a blended family with each spouse bringing three children to the union. Throughout the series, there are many moments of awkward adjustments, sibling rivalries and resentments that tend to come naturally in blended families.

While being a part of a blended family can bring joy and richness, it can also attribute many unforeseen problems and unresolvable conflicts.

After money and sex, one of the main reasons couples tend divorce has to do with kids. A recent study lists "children from previous relationships" as one of the top three issues why marriages end in divorce. Unions tend to be the most challenging if two families need to blend into one (i.e., each spouse has children from a previous union). Unresolved drama with ex-spouses, financial stress, clashing parenting styles and divided alliances are only some of the problems that parents of a blended family face.

Approximately 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce, with second marriage separation rates jumping to 60 percent. However, if there are children involved, the numbers get even higher. If both partners have kids, the odds are stacked against you. Seventy percent of blended marriages end in divorce. Stepfamilies, unfortunately, do not just magically merge into a seamless unit, even if you hire a maid like The Brady Bunch did.

Experts on blended families and parenting say that the odds of a successful "Brady Bunch" merger increase when spouses anticipate and proactively address the challenges of stepparenting: books, classes, family counseling, family meetings and making one-on-one time with stepchildren. If marriage is hard work, blended marriage requires doubling down.

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