If the Brady Bunch kids left home, would they keep in touch? Or would the three golden girls lose track of their darkhaired stepbrothers? We'll never know for sure, but if the nation's favorite fantasy family is anything like real America, chances are that the stepsiblings would remain friends.
At least for awhile. The bonds, however, might grow weak with age—just when siblings tend to need each other most.
As fertility rates decline and divorce rates remain high, the solidarity of blended sibships will become increasingly important for preserving a sense of family, report Nebraska sociologists Lynn White, Ph.D., and Agnes Riedman, Ph.D. So they looked at the ties that bind among a sample of 11,000 adults from the 1987-88 National Survey of Families and Households.
For starters, they're not as sociable as their full-sibling counterparts. But 99.5 percent of step- and half-siblings know where their counterparts reside, the team reports in the journal of Marriage and Family (Vol. 34, 1992).
And stepsibs see each other one to three times a year. That surprises White, a professor at the University of Nebraska. "My initial expectation was that adults would have a great deal less to do with stepbrothers and -sisters than their full siblings."