Turning points in the development of blended families

Leslie A. Baxter, Dawn O. Braithwaite, John H. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


A modified retrospective interview technique (RIT) was employed with members of 53 blended families to determine the types of turning points they reported experiencing and the developmental trajectories of their respective blended family's first 4 years. Findings revealed 15 primary types of turning points, of which 'Changes in Household Configuration', 'Conflict', 'Holidays/Special Events', 'Quality Time' and 'Family Crisis' were the most frequent. A cluster analysis revealed five basic trajectories of development for the first 48 months of family development: Accelerated, Prolonged, Stagnating, Declining and High-amplitude Turbulent. The trajectories differed in the overall positive-to-negative valence ratio, the frequency of conflict related events, the average amplitude of change in feeling like a family, and the current reported level of feeling like a family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-313
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Blended family development
  • Developmental pathways
  • Stepfamily
  • Turning points

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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