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South African Journal of Education

On-line version ISSN 2076-3433
Print version ISSN 0256-0100


EBERSOHN, S  and  BOUWER, AC. A bio-ecological interpretation of the relationship challenges in the context of the reconstituted family. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2015, vol.35, n.2, pp.01-11. ISSN 2076-3433.

From an educational psychology perspective, family life - as a child's primary educational situation - is changing drastically as divorces increase worldwide. Various challenges to relationships accompany the restructuring of family systems after divorce. When remarriage occurs, children's shared membership of two family microsystems and the resultant complexity of the mesosystem cause the reconstituted family situation to come to differ radically from that of a nuclear family. The purpose of this article is to extend Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological model in order to construct a deeper understanding of the relationship challenges in the context of the reconstituted family, specifically noting the importance of effective parenting at mesosystemic level. Data from two separate qualitative studies was interpreted, based on Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological model, to form an integrated understanding of the complexity and influence of the mesosystem. The findings indicate that sound proximal interactive processes in the primary and secondary family microsystems depend on an effective mesosystem, and hence, on at least a functionally co-operative relationship between the biological parents after a divorce. Since the biological parents primarily control the effectiveness of the mesosystem, Bronfenbrenner's extended bio-ecological model can be fruitfully applied in all professions dealing with the contextual relationship challenges of reconstituted families.

Keywords : bio-ecological; divorce; divorced parent(s); reconstituted family.

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