Telling the Story of Stepfamily Beginnings: The Relationship between Young-adult Stepchildren's Stepfamily Origin Stories and their Satisfaction with the Stepfamily

Jody Koenig Kellas, Leslie Baxter, Cassandra LeClair-Underberg, Matthew Thatcher, Tracy Routsong, Emily Lamb Normand, Dawn O. Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The current study adopts a narrative perspective in examining the content of 80 stepchildren's stepfamily origin stories. Results reveal five types of stepfamily origin stories: Sudden, Dark-sided, Ambivalent, Idealized, and Incremental. Results support the hypothesis that story type would predict differences in family satisfaction; stepchildren who described their stepfamily origins as Idealized were more satisfied than those whose origins were Dark-sided or Sudden. Overall, participants framed their stepfamily identity more positively when their stepfamily beginnings were characterized by closeness, friendship, and even expected ups and downs, rather than when they were left out of the process of negotiating or forming the stepfamily and when the beginnings were tainted by issues they considered to be dark. Stepparents or practitioners may benefit from these findings by examining the means by which stepparents may involve stepchildren in the process of stepfamily courtship, facilitate closeness, and set up realistic expectations for negotiating stepfamily life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-166
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family Communication
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication

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