...About 45 per cent of the Frenchmen born in the eighteenth century died before the age of ten. Few of the survivors reached adulthood before the death of at least one of their parents. And few parents reached the end of the procreative years, because death interrupted them. Terminated by death, not divorce, marriages lasted an average of fifteen years, half as long as they do in France today. ...Stepmothers proliferated everywhere - far more so than stepfathers, as the remarriage rate among widows was one in ten. Stepchildren may not have been treated like Cinderella, but relations between siblings probably were harsh. A new child often meant the difference between poverty and indigence.
from chapter one, Peasants Tell Tales: The Meaning of Mother Goose, in The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History.
(After the break my apologies for the HUGE font...)