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Children in Blended Families Still Close to Biological Mothers

Family situation shapes parental involvement less than thought, study finds,,

MONDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- With few exceptions, stepchildren and those in other non-traditional families featuring the kids' biological mother spend as much time with their parents as those in traditional families, new research finds.

The findings, which were presented Saturday at the American Sociological Association (ASA) annual meeting, in Boston, noted that children -- aged 6 to 12 -- living with their biological mothers spent similar amounts of time with her regardless of whether their home included their biological father, a stepfather, or their mother's live-in partner. Those with an unmarried male partner as a father figure in the home also spent the same amount of time with him as children from traditional families did with their biological fathers.

Married stepfathers, however, were less involved with their stepchildren than biological fathers were with their own children, the researchers found.

"Children have no control over their family situation, so it's encouraging to find that the amount of quality time that they have with their parents is largely unaffected by their family arrangement," study author Hiromi Ono, an associate professor of sociology at Washington State University, said in an ASA news release.

Children spent about five hours a week more with a biological mother than with their male parental figure, biological father or otherwise. When biological mothers worked longer hours, children spent less time with their mothers. However, when fathers worked longer hours, children spent more time with them.

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The Partnership for a Drug-Free America has more about showing your kids that you care.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Sociological Association, news release, Aug. 2, 2008

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