Stepchildren's perceptions of the contradictions in communication with stepparents

Leslie A. Baxter, Dawn O. Braithwaite, Leah Bryant, Amy Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

This interpretive study, framed in relational dialectics theory, sought to identify stepchildren's perceptions of the contradictions that animate communication with the stepparent in their household of primary residence. In-depth interviews were conducted, producing 802 pages of double-spaced interview transcripts, which were analyzed inductively for commonly experienced contradictions of stepchild-stepparent communication. Three underlying contradictions were identified. First, stepchild-stepparent communication was perceived to be characterized by a dialectic of integration, characterized by both closeness and distance. Second, stepchild-stepparent communication was perceived to be characterized by a dialectic of parental status, in which the stepparent was, and was not, granted legitimacy in a parent role. Third, stepchild-stepparent communication was perceived to be animated by a dialectic of expression in which both candor and discretion were featured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-467
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2004

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Keywords

  • Relational dialectics
  • Stepfamilies
  • Stepparent-stepchild communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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