All in the Step Family: 4 in 10 Americans Have Step Relatives

Filed under: Relatives, In The News

Stepkids, stepdads, stepmoms ... All are welcome in the blended family mix, a new survey shows. Credit: Getty

In a real-life take on the show "Modern Family," four in 10 Americans are including all sorts of step relatives -- sibs, kids, cousins, moms and dads -- on the branches of their family trees. And they're liking the blended mix, a new Pew Research Center survey shows.

It doesn't matter what's feeding the mix, such as divorce or babies born out of wedlock. People say family ties are the most important priority in their lives, according to the survey, but biological connections continue to trump step relatives when it comes to the sense of obligation and loyalty to the clan.

Researchers surveyed 2,691 adults and their families and found 42 percent say they have at least one step relative. Of that 42 percent, 18 percent have a living stepparent, 13 percent have at least one stepchild and three in 10 have a half sibling.

Blended families are as likely as others to say family is the most important element in their lives, Kim Parker, author of the report, tells the Washington Times. "Having a step family is not something most people anticipate or plan for, and that is reflected in the survey findings."

Research around step families is in its early stages, according to the Pew study, but it's not a far stretch to point to Americans for fueling these growing step family numbers, experts say.

Americans marry and divorce faster than people in any other industrialized county, writes sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin his 2009 book, "The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and Family in America Today."

But having a step family is not something most people foresee. Fifty-four percent say their family life has not turned out as expected. However, seven in 10 who have at least one step relative say they are very happy with their family lives, the survey finds.

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