Dr. Caroline Sanner: Making A Second Marriage Work | All Together #16

In this episode, host Dina Sargeant is joined by Dr. Caroline Sanner, an Assistant Professor of Family Science at Virginia Tech

As feelings change and relationships take a turn, people eventually pursue new love and companionship after the end of a previous marriage or long-term relationship. This shift is not an easy one, especially when it comes to dealing with step-families and becoming step-parents, requiring thoughtful consideration. Join Dina Sargeant and Dr. Caroline Sanner as they delve deep into this topic.

Meet Dr. Caroline Sanner

Dr. Caroline Sanner is an Assistant Professor of Family Science at Virginia Tech, who specializes in studying family complexity. Her research focuses on relationships and dynamics in post-divorce families and step-families, aiming to uncover hidden dynamics and understand how cultural and societal factors, like norms, ideologies, policies, and institutions, influence them.

About the episode

In this episode of All Together, Dr. Caroline Sanner tackles the concept of family, explaining that it can be defined differently by people and may include blood relatives, married partners, or chosen family members. She also touches upon how modern families’ diverse and complex structures contributed to changing the idea of family that was commonly known over history. 

Dr. Caroline emphasizes that families’ fundamental functions remain significant in contemporary society in spite of any changes that may have occurred to what a traditional family looks like. She also states that navigating step-family dynamics can be challenging, especially when children are involved. She emphasizes the ambiguity of the role of step-parents and how it usually leads to uncertainty and potential difficulties.

During the episode, Dr. Caroline addresses the importance of normalizing and acknowledging complicated emotions that children and parents may experience upon transitioning to a step-family. Dr. Caroline shares some common misconceptions that create unrealistic expectations and cause reluctance to discuss challenges openly within the step-family.

Dr. Caroline highlights the societal pressure for women to be both highly involved as mother figures and less involved as step-parents, creating a complex dynamic. She also emphasizes how unhealed wounds from previous relationships contribute to the complexities of blending families after remarriage. Towards the end of the episode, Dr. Caroline encourages people to seek outside support or counseling to navigate the setbacks faced by step-families.

In conclusion

This episode highlights the significance of active listening and open communication in relationships, whether with partners or with children. It also promotes self-awareness and making conscious efforts to establish new, healthy habits in second marriages or relationships. It raises much needed awareness about preparing children for a new step-parent, explaining the importance of gradually communicating about the upcoming changes.

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