Stepfamilies represent an increasing number of American households and shape the upbringing of countless stepchildren. Despite their prominence in society, our knowledge about these families is very limited. To address this deficit, the editors have drawn together the work of 16 nationally known scholars to deal with four questions:
* Marriages that create stepfamilies: Why do they occur? Fail? Succeed?
* How do stepfamilies function as child rearing environments?
* How do stepfamilies function as sources of support in later life?
* Building research and policy agendas: What is needed?
In seeking answers to these questions, the book bridges the disciplines of psychology, sociology, social psychology, child development, demography, law and policy. Readers will gain an understanding of the current knowledge about stepfamilies, obtain an appreciation of the diverse views on a variety of stepfamily issues, learn about existing and anticipated laws and policies that affect stepfamilies, and acquire ideas on needed research and policy agendas. Chapter authors are leading figures in psychology, sociology, demography, human development, and family law; their contributions are valuable to researchers, teachers, and students as well as policymakers and legislatures.