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Stepdads Can Take on the Father’s Role Better Via Open Communication

Update Date: Jun 14, 2013 03:58 PM EDT

With father's day around the corner, researchers published a new study suggesting an easier way for stepfathers to take on the father role that stepchildren might need. Although some people might think that being a father is easy, there is no one set way of becoming a parent. Oftentimes, stepfathers are trapped in between the roles of being an authoritative figure and being a friend. Even though it might be difficult to find one's position when entering a family, the researchers of this study recommend stepfathers to focus on open communication as opposed to titles.

"There's a lot of evidence that moms expect the dads to take on the father role, but dads think their role is to be a friend to the stepchild," the study author, Kevin Shafer explained reported by Medical Xpress. Shafer is an assistant professor of social work from the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The researchers and experts who were not a part of the study recommended that stepfathers take an open communication approach that involves a lot of talking and a lot of patience. Based from the attitudes of some of the children's responses about living with stepfathers, the researchers believe that kids should be involved with the process of incorporating a new member to the family. Shafer states that before any parenting starts, the parent and the new stepparent should discuss the new living situations with the children.

The study reviewed data that was already compiled from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. This survey, which provided the researchers with around 1,000 participants, asked people and their children in 1979 about their marriages and family situations every year. The researchers found that divorced mothers tended to remarry or live with a new partner for an average of five years. These numbers suggest that nearly 10 percent of children within this country lived with a stepfather or in a stepfamily household during the time of the study.

The researchers acknowledge the fact that their suggestions seem to be obvious. But they state that surprisingly, many adults skip these steps and go straight to adding another person into the family household, which could be confusing and potentially bad for children.

The study was provided by MedicalXpress via Healthday. 

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