Bullard, L., Wachlarowicz, M. DeLeeuw, J., Snyder, J., Low, S., Forgatch, M., & DeGarmo, D. (2010). Effects of the Oregon Model of Parent Management Training (PMTO) on marital adjustment in new stepfamilies: A randomized trial. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 485-496.
Using data from 110 couples (67 treatment and 43 non-treatment) with 5-10 yr. old bio-child of mother, residing with stepfamily 50% of time (married on average 15.6 mo.), examined the effects on marital processes and satisfaction, positive and coercive parenting, and children's externalizing and internalizing problems at baseline, 6, 12, and 24 months. PTMO parents showed increase in positive and decrease in coercive parenting; controls showed no change in positive and an increase in coercion. PTMO showed increase in martial processes and no change in satisfaction for mothers, whereascontrols showed no change in processes and a decrease in satisfaction. PTMO stepfathers had decrease in satisfaction and no change in controls. No changes in child behaviors in either group. Also, improvements in parenting at 6 months were associated with less behavior problems at 12 months, and these coparenting practices were associated with improved marital relationships skills and satisfaction.
Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., & Johnson, C. A. (2009). Differential use of premarital education in first and second marriages. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 268-273.
Individuals in first (n = 1,342) and second marriages (n = 398) were surveyed about their premarital education (38% in first and 27% in second marriages were in premarital education, mostly by a religious leader). Rates and lengths of premarital education for both increased over time from 1940 to 1990 marriages. After controlling for years married, second marriages were still half as likely to receive premarital education. Premarital education in a first marriage increased the likelihood of it in second marriages. Those in second marriages were older, less educated, less likely to be married by a religious leader, more likely to cohabit before engagement/marriage, and more likely to have children from a previous relationship. Those most likely to receive education were highly educated, of higher household income, more religious, and married by a religious leader. For first marriages only, having children from a previous relationship decreased the likelihood of receiving premarital education, whereas cohabiting before marriage decreased both marriage types.
Durpuis, S. B. (2007). Examining remarriage: A look at issues affecting remarried couples and the implications toward therapeutic techniques. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 48(1/2), 91-105.
Examining previous literature and clinical cases, the issues affect remarried couples are discussed and clinical implications are offered. Highlighted the importance of strengthening the couple bond, as many couples feel guilty about focusing on themselves, but the marital bond is essential to creating a strong family bond.
Ganong, L. H., Coleman, M., & Jamison, T. (2011). Patterns of stepchild-stepparent development. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 396-413.
Findings are from a qualitative study of the experiences of 14 White stepfathers (from a larger sample of 240) who participated in a 12-hour, research-based stepfamily education program (Smart Steps: Embrace the Journey, Adler-Bader, 2007). They perceived the courses as contributing to family bonding, improved communication and greater empathy, as well as improved interaction with stepchildren, attending because of their encouragement from the partners.
Gelatt, V. A., Adler-Baeder, F., & Seeley, J. R. (2010). An interactive web-based program for stepfamilies: Development and evaluation of efficacy. Family Relations, 59, 572-586.
Using data from 300 parents and stepparents of children (ages 11 – 15), examined the efficacy of a self-administered web-based stepfamily intervention program. The program had 9 "stepfamily challenge modules," addressing an issue specific to stepfamilies around parenting, family, and couple issues. All had a child in the home at least 4 days/month. Compared to a control group, program participants had a reduction in overreactive parenting and unrealistic expectations, and improvement in parenting intentions afterwards. At the 60 day follow-up, program participants showed improvements in lax parenting, overreactive parenting, self-efficacy, and intentions, stepfamily adjustment, life satisfaction, stepfamily harmony, and child conflict, and couples' intentions, self-efficacy, and spousal difficulties. Participants gave the program favorable ratings.
Gonzales, J. (2009). Prefamily counseling: Working with blended families. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50, 148-157.
Using limited literature, suggestions for pre-blended family counseling includes discovery or getting to know the members, educational or where readings are assigned an topics explore, parental reunification where issues like discipline are discussed, and family unification where more practical issues are addressed.
Higginbotham, B. J., Miller, J. J., & Niehuis, S. (2009). Remarriage preparation: Usage, perceived helpfulness, and dyadic adjustment. Family Relations, 58, 316-329.
Using data from 303 randomly selected remarried couples, examine the effects of various remarriage preparation methods (cohabiting, counseling, self-help literature, advice from friends, websites, educational classes and/or lectures) and perceived helpfulness of the methods on marital adjustment. Overall all methods used were perceived as helpful, and the level of perceived helpfulness varied by gender. Self-help literature, talking to parents, an watching a video or movie were associated with less satisfaction in women, suggesting that methods using popular media may negatively affect adjustment. Cohabitation was linked with more positive martial adjustment.
Higginbotham, B. J., & Myler, C. (2010). The influence of facilitator and facilitation characteristics on participants' ratings of stepfamily education. Family Relations, 59, 72-86.
Data from 598 participants (324 women, 274 men) and 48 facilitators of Smart Steps, a remarriage and stepfamily education program, examined the relationship between facilitator and facilitation characteristics on participants rating of the program. Facilitators were mostly female; most participants were similar to facilitators in ethnicity, but about 50% differed in age. Women who were similar to facilitators in education, currently living in a stepfamily, and grew up in a stepfamily were more likely to rate the overall quality of the facilitator highly. Men who were similar in ethnicity and stepfamily experience reported facilitators higher. Characteristics of facilitation (e.g., explaining content clearly, drawing on personal experience) were the most predictive of facilitator ratings and overall program ratings.
Higginbotham, B., Skogrand, L., & Torres, E. (2010). Stepfamily education: Perceived benefits for children. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 51, 36-49.
Qualitative interviews of 40 participants (many low-income families) and 20 facilitators of Smart Steps, a stepfamily education program, of which 25% were in Spanish-speaking classes. Parents reported that their children benefited indirectly from their participation through their development of more empathy and awareness of the importance of spending family time together. Direct benefits for children also included greater expression of feelings, increased empathy, anger management, and communication skills. Normalizing children's experiences and gaining support from other children and families in the course were also beneficial.
Leon, K., & Angst, E. (2005). Portrayals of stepfamilies in film: Using media images in remarriage education. Family Relations, 54, 3-23.
Twenty-six films meeting certain criteria (e.g., not thriller or horror genre, specific mention of stepfamily members) were content coded for 7 content areas and family composition, tone of portrayal of stepfamily issues and stereotypes or myths. Findings were that 50% of the stepfamilies depicted were mother-stepfather families, 38.5% had a negative tone, 34.6% had a mixed tone (some positive + some negative), and 46% showed the stereotype of stepchildren resentment of stepparents. Recommendations for use of certain films and films clips are offered.
Lucier-Greer, M., Adler-Baeder, F., Ketring, S. A., Harcourt, K. T., Smith, T. (2012). Comparing the experiences of couples in first marriages and remarriages in couple and relationship education. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53, 55-75.
Data were from 1.542 individuals (47% in remarriages) who participated in couple relationship education programs (CRE), and examined changes in relationship functioning (e.g., depression, parenting efficacy, trust, relational confidence, and individual empowerment) from pre- to post-participation. No differences in functioning were found among groups at baseline, and although participants reported higher relationship functioning post-participation, no differences were found between groups. Among stepfamilies, no differences were found between those receiving specialized the stepfamily curriculum or the general curriculum.
Reck, K., Higginbotham, B. J., Skogrand, L., & Davis, P. (2012). Facilitating stepfamily education for Latinos. Marriage & Family Review, 48(2), 170-187.
Data are from 14 Spanish-speaking facilitators (11 Latinos and 3 European Americans) who delivered 9 of 23 courses in Spanish of the 12-hour Smart Steps program for stepfamily education. The intent of the study was to identify appropriate strategies for working with Latino stepfamilies. Two primary themes emerged from the interviews: classroom management and approach (encouraging class discussion and sharing to develop bonding among participants [all 14], applying cultural understanding [9 of 14; e.g., divorced fathers disappear], and recognizing the importance of the P-C relationship [7 of 14]) and modifications to the program (appreciated the flexibility of delivery, translation of English into Spanish [e.g., no Spanish word for stepfamily], need to have materials with Latino presented).
Skogrand, L., Barrios-Bell, A., & Higginbotham, B. (2009). Stepfamily education for Latino families: Implications for practice. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 8, 113-128.
Guided by the ecological framework, they analyzed previous literature to find two culture value components of Latino stepfamilies: religion and familism. Religion can affect a step family by causing guilt or feelings of failure because divorce is discouraged in their religion. Also, they couples might feel uncomfortable disclosing their structure to others, especially religious leaders, out of fear of how they will react. Familism focused on the interconnectedness between all family members, including extended members. This support is often only given to intact families, as divorce is strongly discouraged and helps contribute to the negative views about stepfamilies. The authors caution clinicians to keep these components in mind in therapy.
Skogrand, L., Dansie, L., Higginbotham, B. J., Davis, P., & Barrios-Bell, A. (2011). Benefits of stepfamily education: One-year post-program. Marriage & Family Review, 47(3), 149-163.
Used data from qualitative interviews with 20 individuals (original 40 of 230 participants) 1-year after completing the Smart Steps program (12-hour, research-based stepfamily education). Four themes surfaced: 19 of 20 reported improved relationships with children (more empathy, parenting as a team, and time with child, and better communication); 19 of 20 reported improved couple relationship (better communication and more couple unity and commitment); 8 of 20 reported improved family relations (more unity, better communication); and 10 of 20 reported better attitude/response to other bio-parent.
Skogrand, L., Davis, P., & Higginbotham, B. J. (2011). Stepfamily education: A case study. Contemporary Family Therapy, 33, 61-70.
Focus is on the perspective, feelings, and reports from one stepfamily to examine the sequence of experiences. Prior to marriage, the cohabitating couple had engaged in stepfamily education because they did not want to have the poor experiences observed in others. About 1 year prior to participating in Smart Steps when they experienced problems. The participation fostered feeling of not being alone (others shared their experiences and provided support); improved their communication which enhanced their coparenting; strengthened the family through shared family activities and time; and improved their interactions with former spouses.
Skogrand, L., Reck, K.H., Higginbotham, B, Adler-Baeder, F., & Dansie, L. (2010). Recruitment and retention for stepfamily education. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 9, 48-65.
Strategies used to recruit and retain stepfamilies for Smart Steps program among low-income stepfamilies were examined. Data from interviews with 40 participants and 20 facilitators from 10 agencies showed that participants were most commonly recruited through personal invitation, mass media, or a family/friend referral. Participants reported being motivated to attend to fulfill a personal need, gain information, solve family problems, and create family unity. Retained participants and facilitators saw the use of incentives (e.g., meal prior to class) as effective retention strategies. Monetary compensation for transportation, prizes won during classes, inclusion of children, and regular staff contact were also reported as effective.
Vateriaus, M. J., Allgood, S. M., & Higginbotham, B. J. (2012). Stepfamily education booster sessions. Social Work with Groups, 35, 150-163.
Using data from 112 men and 155 women who had participated in an earlier 12-hour stepfamily education program (SmartSteps) and also participated in a booster session 4-6 weeks later, findings were that participants reported being satisfied with the session and had gained more knowledge about stepfamily dynamics. No demographic differences were found between those who did and did not attend the booster session. Also, no marital status or gender differences were found on perceived knowledge change, although higher knowledge gains were reported among Latino participants.
Wachlariwucz, M., Snyder, J., Low, S., Fogatch, M., & Degarmo, D. (2012). The moderating effects of parent antisocial characteristics on the effects of Parent Management Training-Oregon (PTMOTM). Prevention Sciences, 12, 229-240.
Examined the effects of PTMO in a sample of recently married mothers and stepfathers (67 in treatment and 43 in a control group) with at risk child 5-10 years. PTMO reduced coercive parenting and increased positive parenting over 2 years, and parents' antisocial characteristics (e.g., acting out, hard drug use, partner aggression, arrest) were linked with increased effect of PTMO. Among the control group antisocial characteristics increased coercive parenting overtime. Aggression toward current or prior partner was most common antisocial characteristics, although more than 1/3 also used hard drugs and acted out.