How happy are blended and step-families?


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Children from blended and step-families tend to be more satisfied with their relationship with their natural parents than their step-parents.

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey asks how satisfied respondents are with their relationship with various family members, on a scale of 0 to 10 in which 0 is ‘completely dissatisfied’ and 10 is ‘completely satisfied’.

The majority (58 per cent) of children rated their satisfaction with their step-parents as eight or more out of 10 and 20 per cent of children scored their satisfaction with their step-parents as a five or less out of 10.

Step-parents were a little less satisfied with their relationship with their step-children, but only 23 per cent rated their relationship as five or less out of 10, and again, a clear majority (55 per cent) rated this relationship as eight out of 10 or higher.

Respondents who had a step-parent were, on average, less satisfied with their relationship with their step-parent than they were with their relationship with their natural parents.

Furthermore, children with a step-parent were less satisfied with their relationship with their natural parents than children without a step-parent—that is, children in step or blended families are less satisfied with the relationship with their natural parents than children in intact families.

Step-parents rated their satisfaction with their relationship with their step-children at an average of 7.1 out of 10, more than a full point less than their satisfaction with their relationship with their natural children (8.11).

Again, parents who did not have step-children were happier (8.65) with their relationship with their natural children than parents who also had step-children.

Cassells R, Toohey M, Keegan M, and Mohanty I (2013), ‘Modern Family: The changing shape of Australian families’, AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report Issue 34, October.

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