Academic studies examining the impact of remarriage on families, particularly on children, have yielded mixed results. However, even when the discrepancy in well-being is not large, families subject to remarriage demonstrate a greater number of children challenged with emotional, behavioral and educational deficits than peers from other situations.
Children of broken homes tend to exhibit a greater frequency of several behaviors, including delinquency, susceptibility to peer pressure, substance abuse and identity confusion. Substance abuse seems particularly aggravated among cases of adolescent girls. In general, children facing instances of remarriage show less ability to handle stress, although findings still vary. Among adults, remarriage situations have been connected with instances of poorer mental health, particularly among custodial mothers, compromised parenting skills and bitter in-fighting among former spouses.
The impact of remarriage can vary significantly depending on the situation. For instance, stepfathers tend to be rather well accepted when young children are involved and when the birth mother retains custody. Alternatively, stepmothers tend to fare more poorly once the initial friendship stage with the stepchildren passes and marriage presents her as a possible threat to the birth mother. In other cases, young boys may react positively to the presence of a stepfather, whereas young girls become increasingly rebellious. Finally, older children may collectively resist the authority of a stepparent, especially a stepmother.