Step Families



Today, you would be hard pressed to identify any families that did not a step parent or stepchildren. Step families are created through death of a parent, a divorce or separation. A step mom or dad comes into a person’s life many times accompanied by a step brother or sister.

Decades ago, most marriages lasted for life. Separation and divorce were often looked down upon. Step mothers or fathers did exist, because if a spouse died young, the remaining parent would remarry soon. In today’s society divorce and remarriages are commonplace. Over 50% of all marriages end up in divorce. That means over half of today’s families have divorced parents and/or children of divorces. Even a special day is recognized, September 16th as Step Family Day.

Step families, also known as blended families, do need to be included on the family tree. It might be difficult putting all the names and dates together. If one parent did die and then a remarried by the surviving spouse and any children born of the second marriage, that is fairly straight to follow. Occasionally you will find an individual who was widowed several times and remarried again – maybe 3 to 4 times. There you really need to keep actual dates of events and births to keep it all straight. If it was the father who remarried, the surname would remain the same but then it becomes very difficult if it was the mother who remarried several times and have children by the different husbands. So within one household there could be several surnames, but all are related.

There remember sometimes a step father would adopt the step children, giving them his family name. Then it becomes a bit harder to figure the original birth name. With census records every ten years, there might have been a couple difference marries within one family in ten years.

Plus an individual may have stated for the census or any other record they were widowed when in truth, they were divorced or only separated from their legal spouse. So you can’t always hold 100% what info was given by an individual.

You may have added present-day step members to the family tree, but do investigate if there any step family members 3 to 5 generations back. You might be surprised.

Photo: Blended family tree and the mixing of two families into one.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Half-Siblings

Direct Lineage

Musts in Genealogy

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