Effect of Family Structure on Family Attitudes and Expectations Author(s): Marilyn Coleman and Lawrence H. Ganong Source: Family Relations, Vol. 33, No. 3, Remarriage and Stepparenting, (Jul., 1984), pp. 425432 Published by: National Council on Family Relations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/584713 Accessed: 22/07/2008 17:12 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=ncfr. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission.

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Effect of Family Structure on Family Attitudes and Expectations MARILYNCOLEMANAND LAWRENCEH. GANONG* The effects of family structure (i.e. intact, single parent and stepfamily) and family integration (i.e. closeness to parents) on high school and college students' attitudes toward marriage, marriage roles, and divorce were examined. The sample consisted of 867subjects from intact, 91 from stepfather, 35 from stepmother, 170 from motheronly and 28 from father-only families. Data were collected by a questionnaire which incorporated Hill's Attitude Toward Marriage Scale, the Hardy Divorce Scale, six marriage role expectations items, two Orientation to Parent Scales and several demographic items. Family structure affected divorce attitudes with children from mother! stepfather and mother-only families having more positive attitudes than children from intact families. Family integration affected marriage attitudes only; subjects from all family types who indicated high family integration (i.e. closeness to both step/mother and step/father) had more positive attitudes towards marriage than those reporting moderate or low family integration. Neither family structure, family integration or sex had an influence on marriage role expectations. Analyses of data from stepchildren only found no differences between stepchildren from stepmother or stepfather households, regardless of the cause of the dissolution of parent's previous marriage. Length of time of residence in the stepfamily household also had no effect on attitudes. The findings provide minimal support for a role model or social learning perspective. The development of attitudes toward marriage may be a more complex process than is often hypothesized; childhood experiences within the family may be only part of the influence of such attitudes.

Attitudes toward marriageand family life are widely assumed to be influenced by childhood experiences with the family (Hill & Aldous, 1969; Stinnett, 1969). The parent's marital relationship seems especially significant in affecting the perceptions and attitudes of children toward marriage,divorce, and marriage role expectations (Landis, 1962; Rose, 1955; Wallin, 1954; Walters, Parker, & Stinnett, 1972), either by communicating values (Kulka&Weingarten, 1979) or by presenting role models for marriage and family life (Heiss, 1972; Pope & Mueller, 1976). If the parent's maritalrelationship is disrupted by death or divorce, it would therefore *MarilynColeman, Departmentof Child and Family Development, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211. Lawrence H. Ganong, School of Nursing, Universityof Missouri-Columbia,Columbia,MO65211. Key Concepts: family attitudes, family integration, remarriage, stepchildren, stepfamily. (FamilyRelations, 1984, 33, 425-432.) July 1984

be assumed that the child's attitudes towards divorce and/or marriage would be affected. For example, it might be expected that children from nonintact households who were close to their parents would hold less traditional marriage role attitudes because their parents may have engaged in and modeled less traditional household sex role behavior (Brandwein, Brown & Fox, 1974: Glasser & Navarre, 1965; Goode, 1956). As has frequently been pointed out, the status of the parent's marital relationship (i.e., family structure) alone is not sufficient to explain children's attitudes, perceptions, or behaviors (Fox & lnazu, 1982; Landis, 1962; Marotz-Baden, Adams, Bueche, Munro & Munro, 1979; Raschke & Raschke, 1979; Spreitzer &-Riley, 1974; Walling, 1954; Wilson, Zurcher, McAdams & Curtin, 1975). Interpersonal relationships within the family may be as influential on children's attitudes toward marriage and family life as family structure. Both domains should be considered, for as Spreitzer and Riley (1974) have contended "the structural



and interpersonal features of the respondent's family of orientation cannot be considered in isolation of each other" (p. 541). The theoretical perspective typically promulgated as explanatory of marriage and family life attitudes is social learning (Bandura,1977). According to this perspective, happy intact parental marriages are assumed to present positive marital role models while unhappy intact and/or those ended by divorce model negative marital behaviors. Parental absence due to death presumably results in incomplete or inadequate socialization due to the lack of an interacting role model. Theoretically, modeling is most effective when the child views his or her relationship to the parent/s (the model) as "close" since, according to Bandura(1977), attention to a model and it's behavior is most likely if the model is distinctive and regarded favorably and if the model's behavior has proved to be effective. Empirical support for the role model hypothesis has been somewhat mixed. Landis (1962) reported that although marital attitudes of children from happy intact families differed from those in unhappy intact and "broken" homes, the attitudes of children in the latter two groups did not differ from each other. Kulkaand Weingarten (1979) found the theory was supported for divorce attitudes of males only, while Greenberg and Nay (1982) found no differences in attitudes toward marriage between college students from happy unbroken, unhappy unbroken, parent-deceased and separated/divorced homes. The only significant finding in their study was that students from separated/divorced backgrounds had a more positive attitude toward divorce than the other students. Surprisingly little research on marital and family attitudes has been reported on children from families in which parental death or divorce has been followed by remarriage. Greenberg and Nay (1982) mentioned "as an aside" that stepchildren did not differ on divorce and marriageattitudes from children in single-parent families, but data were not presented and stepchildren were not considered separately in the hypotheses or discussion of results. In an earlier study we compared adolescent stepchildren to children from intact and single-parent families and found no differences in marital attitudes or marriage role expectations, although stepchildren were more favorable toward divorce (Ganong, Coleman, & Brown, 1981). In this earlier study, however, no attempts were made to include family relationship variables such as family integration. Also, the subsample of stepchildren was too small to allow for analyses of different stepfamily structures (i.e., stepmother, stepfather). The primarypurpose of the present study is to examine the effects of family structure and family integration on children's attitudes 426

toward marriage, marriage roles, and divorce. Based on a role model perspective, it would be expected that: (1) stepchildren who have high stepfamily integration would not differ in attitudes toward marriage from children of intact and single-parent families who have high family integration, (2) stepchildren and children from single-parent families who have high family integration would have less traditional marriage role expectations than children from intact families, and children from nonintact families with low family integration, and (3) stepchildren of divorced biological parents who have high stepfamily integration would have more positive attitudes toward divorce than stepchildren with lower family integration, stepchildren with a deceased parent, intact family children, and those from single-parent families. A secondary purpose of this study is to examine the effects of cause of marital disruption, type of stepfamily, length of time in the stepfamily, and family integration on stepchildren's attitudes toward marriage, marriage roles, and divorce. Method Subjects

Subjects in this study were 531 male and 660 female adolescents and young adults enrolled in psychology, family living, and human development courses at three high schools and three universities in the Midwestern United States. To be included in the study all subjects had to be single. High school subjects had to reside with at least one of their parents, and college students had to reside with at least one parent when not in school. The subjects ranged in age from 15 to 22, mean age = 18. It was expected that subjects at these ages would have formed some beliefs about marriage and family life, find questions about marriage and family attitudes relevant, and be at home frequently enough to be presented with parental models and values. The researchers were employed at the participating universities; the high schools were randomly selected from schools within a 60 mile radius of one of the universities. These subjects were similar to the population from which they were drawn in race, sex, parent's education, size of community and family type (Missouri Vital Statistics, 1980). Most subjects

(91 %) were white, and

560% were female. Forty-three percent were from urban areas, 26% from rural areas, and 31% from medium sized communities. It was estimated from parent's educational levels that most of the sample were lower to upper-middle socio-economic status. There were 867 subjects living in intact nuclear families, 91 in stepfather families, 35 in stepmother families, 170 in mother-only families, and 28 in fatheronly families. Of those from stepfather families, 76 had their original families dissolved by


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divorce and 15 by parental death. Twenty of the subjects living in stepmother families had divorced parents and 15 were stepchildren due to their mother's death.

score, the more favorable the attitude toward divorce. Orientation to Parent Scales. Subjects responded to two Orientation to Parent Scales (Bowerman & Irish, 1962), one each for their Instruments (step)mother and (step)father. Those in singleAll subjects were administered a 72-item parent households were instructed to respond questionnaire. The dependent variables, atti- regarding their biological parents, and subtudes toward marriage, marriage role expecta- jects in intact and stepfamily households were tions, and divorce were measured by the Atti- instructed to respond to the adults with whom tude Toward MarriageScale (Hill, 1951), a Mar- they lived. Each scale consisted of five quesriage Role Expectations scale devised for this tions related to: parental understanding, study, and the Divorce Opinionnaire (Hardy, parent-child relations, closeness to parents, 1957). The independent variables were family expectations for parents, and communication integration, family structure, and sex. Family with parents. Three responses were provided integration was measured by two Orientation for each item, and each scale ranged from 5 to to Parent Scales (Bowerman & Irish, 1962), one 15. Scale scores of 13-15 were categorized as each for (step)mother and (step)father. Sex of "close," 10-12 as "moderately close," and respondents and the subjects' family structure scores of 5-9 as "distant." For the present were determined from demographic informa- study, the two Orientation to Parent Scales tion requested in the questionnaire. were combined to form a measure of family inAttitudes Toward Marriage Scale. This scale tegration. Subjects who were close to both measured attitudes and expectations toward parents were classified as having high family the subject's future marital status. Attitudes integration, subjects distant to one or both toward the following were included: the diffi- parents were classified as having low family inculty of marital adjustments, the responsibili- tegration, and all others were classified as havties of marriage,loss of personal freedom, sex- ing moderate family integration. ual exclusiveness, doubts about marital sucIn addition to these attitudinal measures, cess, predicted happiness in marriage,and the subjects were asked to indicate which parents advisability of remaining single. The scale con- resided with them (i.e., mother and father, sisted of seven items presented in a Likert-type mother and stepfather, stepmother and father, format. Scale scores had a possible range of 7 mother only, father only, or other), the marital to 28, with higher scores representing more status of their biological parents (still married favorable attitudes toward marriage. Two to each other, separated, divorced, mother dedichotomously scored items from the original ceased, father deceased), and a rating of their scale were excluded for conceptual and psy- parent's marital happiness until they were 12 chometric reasons. years old (applicable to those from intact famiMarriage Role Expectations. Expectations of lies only). marital roles were measured by six statements Questionnaires were administered during about marriage, three that expressed tradi- regular class periods, and all respondents retional attitudes toward division of labor in mained anonymous. Completing the instrumarital roles and three that expressed equali- ment was voluntary. Course instructors in the tarian attitudes. Items included roles regarding high school classes read standard instructions decision-making, wage earning, housekeeping, to the students. The questionnaires were adand child care. Subjects indicated whether ministered to the college students by one of they expected the statements to be true or the researchers. false for their future marriage. A total attitude score was computed by assigning scores to PreliminaryAnalysis each item, and summing the scores, giving the A breakdown of the sample by family strucscale a range of 6 to 12. The items were scored ture, level of family integration, and sex is so that higher scores reflected more equalitari- shown on Table 1. In addition to family strucan attitudes. ture and family integration, sex was included Divorce Opinionnaire. Attitudes toward as an independent variable for two reasons. divorce were measured by agreement or dis- First, there was concern that family integration agreement to statements concerning the ef- may differ significantly for males and females fects of divorce on children, the degree of in different family structures. There has been abuse of divorce, obligation to remain married, modest empirical support for the notion that a and divorce as a solution to unhappy marriage. sex of stepchild-sex of stepparent interaction Half of the items expressed an attitude favor- could affect family integration of stepfamilies able to divorce and half expressed a negative, (Bernard, 1956; Bowerman & Irish, 1962; unfavorable attitude. The instrument consisted Landis, 1962). A second reason was that preof 12 items presented in a Likert-typeformat. vious studies of attitudes toward marriage The possible range of scores was from 12 to 36, have found different expectations and attiwith the interpretation that the higher the tudes for males and females (Broderick, 1965; July 1984



Table 1. Family Integration of Males and Females from Different Family Structures Family Structure Family Integration Stepmother Stepfather Mother Only Father Only Intact Happy Intact Unhappy Males Close Moderately close Distant Females Close Moderately close Distant

n = 17 18 47 35 n = 17 47 35 18

n = 32 22 50 28 n = 52 27 27 46

n = 81 22 46 32 n = 86 19 44 37

n = 14 29 29 43 n = 12 58 25 17

n = 257 61 30 9 n = 311 59 31 11

n = 127 40 36 24 n = 173 27 38 35

Note. Numbers in columns represent percentages.

Ganong et al., 1981). Ignoring the possible influence of sex-related socialization for marriage attitudes did not seem to be a sound idea. In addition, the possibility of an age cohort effect (i.e., high school vs. college students) was examined prior to analyzing the data. No in marriage, marriage role, and differences divorce attitudes were found between high school and college students. This finding was consistent with earlier research (Ganong et al., 1981); therefore, all subjects were pooled and age was not included as an independent variable. Results Step-, Intact, Single Parent Families In the initial analyses, attitudes of responwere compared to dents from stepfamilies those from intact and single-parent families using a 6 (family structure) x 3 (family integration) x 2 (sex) multivariate analyses of variance. The categories of family structure were stepmother, intact-unhappy, intact-happy, stepfather, mother-only, and father-only. Subjects were categorized based on the household in which they currently resided. Family integration categories were developed as described previously and were high, moderate, or low. There was a significant main effect for family structure (F(15,3150) = 1.96, p < .015) and family integration (F(6,2282) = 2.86, p < .009) on the first multivariate analyses. Sex was not significant and there were no interaction effects. Examination of the univariate analyses of variance revealed that there was a significant main effect for family structure on divorce attitudes (F(5,1178) = 4.04, p < .001). Those living with mothers/stepfathers and mothers only had more favorable attitudes toward divorce than those from intact families. Family integration was significant in the univariate analyses for marriage attitudes only (F(2,1178) = 8.31, p < .0003). Subjects who were close to their parents (high family integration) had more positive attitudes toward marriage than those who had moderate or low family integration. There 428

were no significant main effects or interaction effects for marriage role expectations. Stepchildren


In the second multivariate analyses of variance, data only from the stepchildren were analyzed. To determine if cause of original family dissolution and sex of stepparent had an effect on stepchildren's attitudes, a 4 (type of stepfamily) x 3 (family integration) multivariate of variance was performed. The analyses "types" of stepfamilies included were stepmother-mother deceased, stepmother-parents divorced, stepfather-father deceased, and stepfather-parents divorced. No significant multivariate main effects were found, nor were there any significant interaction effects. There were in family attitudes between no differences stepchildren from stepmother or stepfather regardless of the cause of the households, breakup of the previous marriage (i.e., death or divorce). Even though family integration did not have a significant effect on family attitudes, the pattern of responses on the dependent variables for the stepchildren were similar to the pattern of the total sample (i.e., family integration was a relevant variable for marriage attitudes only). Finally, in order to determine if the length of time a child lived in a stepfamily household affected their marital attitudes, a one-way multivariate analysis of variance was computed. Number of years living in a stepfamily was categorized into: less than 2 years, 3-5 years, 6-10 years, and more than 10 years. No differences were found on any of the attitudinal measures. Discussion In this study of the effects of family structure and family integration on children's attitudes toward marriage, marriage roles, and divorce, the role model or social learning perspective was not well supported. It was expected that attitudes of stepchildren reporting high family integration would not differ from single-parent and intact family children report-


July 1984

ing high family integration; this was borne out by the data. However, it was also expected that stepchildren and children from single-parent families with high family integration would have less traditional marriage role expectations. This hypothesis was not supported. Adthat children of ditionally, the expectation divorced parents who live in stepfamilies with high family integration would have more positive attitudes towards divorce was not supported. Attitudes Toward Marriage Children from all family structures (intact, single-parent, step) with high family integration scores had significantly more positive attitudes toward marriage than those who perceived themselves as moderately close or distant from parents. Children who are close to their parents feel more positive about their own chances for marriage; this is true whether the parental models for the child are biological parents, a parent-stepparent dyad, or even if one parent is not presently living in the household. A possible explanation, congruent with the role model rationale, is that if a parental marriage is "bad," the child distances emotionally from one or both parents, and concurrently begins to perceive marriage (for themselves) in a less positive manner. These data indicate that it is the child's relationship to both parents and not family dissolution or remarriage per se that influences marital attitudes. Marriage Role Expectations The expectation that children from singleparent and stepfamily households who were close to their parents would hold less traditional marriage role attitudes did not prove to be the case. Data from previous investigations indicate that single parents engage in houseashold behaviors that are stereotypically signed to the other sex; fathers engage in housework and child care and mothers work outside the home and head the household (Brandwein, Brown, & Fox, 1974; Glasser & Navarre, 1965; Goode, 1956). The saliency of favorably regarded role models has theoretical and empirical support (Bandura, 1977), therefore, the assumptions underlying the hypothesis that children from single-parent and stepfamily households with high family integration would have less traditional marriage role expectations than children from intact households and from nonintact households with low family integration appear tenable. It may be that the assumptions are true, but nontraditional parental role models do not influence attitudes because they are at odds with strong, widely held cultural beliefs about role models. Parental household role behaviors in singleparent and stepfamily households may be seen as idiosyncratic, perhaps deviant, and inconsistent with cultural norms. Some offspring July 1984

may even relate this atypical behavior as the cause of the marital dissolution (in divorce). From this view, parental behavior is discounted as a model because the behavior doesn't fit the norm. It may also be that children in singleparent homes or another adult (relative, neighbor, parent's lover) take on the role of the missing spouse. This would allow the parent to maintain a stereotypical masculine or feminine role. The child would not then necessarily expect a nontraditional relationship in their own marriage because they have not seen one modeled. Attitudes Toward Divorce Attitudes toward divorce were not affected by levels of family integration. It had been hypothesized that stepchildren with close ties to both their stepparent and custodial biological parent wouid perceive divorce as a positive thing (since it led indirectly to their current stepfamily situation). This was not the case. An alternative explanation may be found in the clinical literature on divorce and stepfamilies; no matter how well adjusted and close to stepparents children may be, they are repudiated to harbor fantasies of parental reconciliation for years after family dissolution, even if their original home life was conflictual (Visher & Visher, 1979). The family structure effect on divorce attitudes was only partially consistent with social learning theory and previous research. In prior investigations, stepchildren (Ganong et al., 1981) children from separated/divorced homes (Greenburg & Nay, 1982), and males from divorced backgrounds (Kulka & Weingarten, 1979) reported more favorable attitudes toward divorce. None of these findings were completely supported by data from this study. In this study subjects from single-parent and stepfamily households living with their mothers (mothers only and mother-stepfather households) were most favorable toward divorce and those from intact households were the least favorable. The fact that those from intact households were least favorable to divorce is consistent with a role model hypothesis. In households with unhappy but intact parental marriages the role model may be conveying the message to stay together no matter what. In households of happy parental marriages, divorce may be seen as anathema. However, the fact that divorce attitudes of children from stepmother-father households and father-only households were not different from those of children in intact households is not consistent with a role model hypothesis. Theoretical explanations are lacking for why children from mother-only and mother-stepfather households are more favorable toward divorce than children from father-only and father-stepmother households. A close examination of mean scores, however, indicated subjects from



all family structures did not have strong positive or negative attitudes toward divorce, but rather had neutral attitudes. This suggests the possibility that years of increasing divorce rates and concurrent social changes in the acceptance of divorce have diminished the negative connotations of divorce. Subsample Analyses: Attitudes of Stepchildren Sex of the stepparent (stepmother or stepfather) and the cause of parent's marital dissolution (death or divorce) has been found to have differential effects on the adjustment and behavior of stepchildren (Bowerman & Irish, 1962; Duberman, 1973; Visher & Visher, 1979). In this study, however, attitudes toward marriage, marriage roles, and divorce were not affected by these two variations of stepfamily types. The trend of mean scores on maritalattitudes was the same as for the total sample (i.e., stepchildren with high family integration scores had more positive attitudes toward marriage than stepchildren with low family integration scores). There were no consistencies regarding the direction of scores on family integration, marriage role expectations, and divorce attitudes. Length of time residing in a stepfamily also had no effect on attitudes toward marriage, marriage roles, or divorce. If exposure to a valued model influences attitudes, then it seems that more exposure to the model would have a greater influence. Perhaps little additional modeling takes place after a certain amount of exposure, so that time exposed to a model and identification with the model have a nonlinear relationship. For these data then, the influence (either positive, negative, or neutral) of parental remarriage on family life attitudes and expectations of children may not increase in magnitude past a point. This speculation certainly deserves further investigation. Intriguingly,the pattern of parent/child relationships (i.e., family integration) for the different stepfamily types was inconsistent with the results of previous research. For example, it has been stated that stepchildren have closer relationships to parents in stepfather families than in stepmother families (Bowerman & Irish, 1962; Duberman, 1973). Relationships are better if the stepfamily was formed following the death of a parent according to Bowerman and Irish (1962), while Duberman (1973) has found that relationships are better following divorce. In a secondary analysis of our data no differences in family integration were found between the various stepfamily types (x2 = 3.48; df = 6; p > .05). In general, family integration was high in the stepfamilies in this study, especially in view of the conservative definition of high family integration used (i.e., the children had to rate themselves as close to both parents in the household, at least 430

13 points on a 15 point scale, to be categorized as close or high family integration). Even so, 18% of the males and 47% of the females in

stepmother families and 22% of the males and 27% of the females in stepfather families (see Table 1) reported themselves as close to their parents. Well over half the stepchildren rated their family integration as either high or moderately so. Limitations of the study

Caution must be used in generalizing from these data for two reasons. The first is that the data are from a nonprobability sample. A convenience sample was drawn in order to efficiently obtain enough stepchildren for statistical analyses. Locating sufficient numbers of stepchildren for statistical analyses of data is difficult because stepfamilies are often "invisible" in their communities and are not easily identifiable to researchers (e.g., in most stepmother families all family members have the same last name and therefore may appear to be from intact nuclear families). Occasionally, stepfamily members are reluctant to identify themselves as such because they perceive a stigma attached to remarriage and steprelationships (Visher & Visher, 1979). For these reasons, researchers have tended to rely on methods that result in nonprobabilitysamples; more traditional sampling methods require more time and money in order to include a sample large enough to contain a sufficient number of stepchildren. In the words of Kitson and her colleagues, nonprobability samples may "be the most feasible method for examining sensitive, relatively low frequency events" (Kitson, Sussman, Williams, Zeehandelaar, Schickmanter & Steinberger, 1982, p. 967). It should be noted that despite being nonrandom, the sample appears to be representative of the population from which it was selected in terms of the main variables of interest. Seventeen percent of the sample were in singleparent households; the Census Bureau (1980) stated that 20% of households are singleparent and the Population Reference Bureau (1977) stated 17%. The subsample of stepfami-

lies represented in this study (11%) is comparable to other estimates

of 13% (Population

Reference Bureau, 1977) and 10% (Railings, 1976). A second limitation is that the stepfamily subsample was quite small in some categories (i.e., stepmother families, especially when further divided by sex of child or cause of family dissolution). Stepfamily structures are complex. To adequately examine the possible structural variations researchers must have extremely large samples or they must choose to ignore the possible influence of the variations by combining types of stepfamilies. Despite having 126 stepchildren in the sample, choosing to examine 12 structural variations (i.e.,


July 1984

family structre, family integration and sex) resulted in some small cells in the multivariate analyses of variance. Consequently, caution should be exercised when drawing inferences from these data. Conclusion The present study generally supports earlier research concerned with the impact of parent's remarriage on children's socialization regarding family life (Ganong et al., 1981; Spreitzer & Riley, 1974; Wilson et al., 1975). Although representing a diverse array of measures, the basic conclusions from these studies were: (a) that stepchildren do not differ from persons raised in other family structures, and (b) stepchildren are not adversely affected by parental remarriage. Family structure did not have a significant effect on marriage or marriage role attitudes in the present study. Even though family structure had a significant effect on divorce attitudes (i.e., children from motheronly and mother-stepfather households were more favorable toward divorce), the direction of the data was neither hypothesized nor consistent with previous research on divorce attitudes. It is questionable, therefore, whether family structure is an effective predictor of family life attitudes. The fact that family integration significantly affected only attitudes toward marriage (those with high family integration had more positive attitudes) provides only modest support for the contention that in studying effects on children's attitudes, family relationship variables are critical to assess (Fox & Inazu, 1982; Raschke & Raschke, 1979; Wilson et al., 1975). If the role model rationale is tenable, it is possible that broad cultural models (e.g., sex role portrayals) have as great an influence on children's family life attitudes as parental models. Nonparental influences that may have an impact on attitudes toward marriage and divorce include media portrayals, cultural myths, religious influences, and observations of friends, siblings and other acquaintances. These all may serve as role models in shaping marriage attitudes, marriage role expectations, and divorce attitudes. The development of attitudes toward marriage may be a more complex process than is often hypothesized; childhood experiences within the family may be only part of the influences on such attitudes. In spite of abundant evidence indicating family structure is not a useful predictor (Ganong et al., 1981; Greenburg & Nay, 1982; Marotz-Baden et al., 1979; Wilson et al., 1975), researchers, educators, and counselors continue to focus on family structure. Clearly, family structure is an easy variable for researchers to measure. It is also a characteristic that is relatively "observable" by teachers and counselors. It is tempting, therefore, to attribute attitudinal and behavioral differences in July 1984

children to a readily available and simple explanation such as family structure. In order to more definitively answer some of the questions raised by counselors and parents regarding effects of "living in step" on children, consortiums are needed for purposes of data collection from large, representative samples. Such studies would be richly complemented by a series of in-depth investigations of well functioning stepfamilies. Until such data are available, family counselors and family life educators would be well advised to examine the available clinical and empirical literature critically and guard against making unwarranted assumptions about the effects of single-parent and stepfamily structures on children without carefully considering the quality of interpersonal relationships between family members. Practitioners should be cautious also in applying the role model hypothesis when counseling or educating stepfamilies, since there is little empirical support for its influence.

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Visher, E., &Visher,J. (1979).Stepfamilies: Mythsand realities. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel. Wallin, P. (1954). Maritalhappiness of parents and their children's attitude toward marriage. American Sociological Review, 19, 20-23. Walters, J., Parker,K., & Stinnett, N. (1972).College students perceptions concerning marriage. Family Perspective, 7, 43-49. Wilson, K., Zurcher, L., McAdams, D. C., & Curtin, R. (1975). Stepfathers and stepchildren:An exploratoryanalysis from two national surveys. Journal of Marriageand the Family, 37, 526-536.



A Journal of Sociology and Social Work

"Asian/PacificAmericans",Vol. 3, No. 2, 1980, editedby LawrenceK. Hong and RonaldT. Tsukashima "The Organizational Processingof Deviants",Vol. 4, No. 2, 1981, editedby Delos H. Kelly "Chicanosand OtherHispanicGroups",Vol. 5, No. 2, 1982 editedby RogerDelgadoand AlfredoG. Gonzalez CALIFORNIASOCIOLOGIST Departmentof Sociologyand SocialWork CaliforniaStateUniversity,Los Angeles Los Angeles,California90032 Price: $6.00 each



July 1984

Effect of Family Structure on Family Attitudes and ...

Neither family structure, family integration or sex had an influence on marriage role expectations. Analyses of data from stepchildren only found no differences ...

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