With the downfall of marriage in our society, more and more of us are getting divorced, have been divorced, or are children of divorce. Divorce very often creates step families, and this has changed the very core of the modern family.

It's useful to remember, though, that step families are nothing new. In fact, Shakespeare created the play, "Hamlet" around this very theme. Hamlet's father had died and he now had a new step dad -- his uncle, Claudius. And he was not happy with the new "addition to his family" at all!  He questioned the validity of Claudius' role in the family and berated  his mother for her disloyalty.

We see the same issues today with step families, most now created by divorce instead of death. The drama is still there --- conflicted loyalties, loss of trust and intense questioning by the children involved.

Although the play Hamlet exaggerates the drama in order to make a good play, we can see elements of what he is going through that are common to many children in re-marriage situations. They feel loyal to their biological parent but are being forced to deal with a new reality that is beyond their choice. They are often told to "suck it up" and feel isolated in the situation.

Many of your students in your classrooms will come from step family situations. Take the opportunity to talk about these real life issues with your class. They will relate more than you know!

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    An educator with a passion for making connections between literature and the real lives of students.