An exploratory study of the intergenerational relationships of adults raised as stepchildren and their stepparents.
AuthorDavis, Ginger S.
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AbstractThe purpose of this exploratory study was threefold: (1) to describe the relationships of adult stepchildren and their stepparents, those that raised them; (2) to compare the responses of the adult stepchildren about their stepparents to those about their biological parents, those married to the stepparent; and (3) to compare the responses of the adult stepchildren about their stepparents to responses of the stepparents about those adult stepchildren. The method of data collection was mailed questionnaires. There were 50 stepchild respondents and 21 related stepparent respondents. Questionnaires were developed from a synthesis of literature reviews on stepchild/stepparent relationships of minor aged stepchildren, intergenerational relationships of adults and their parents, and theoretical frameworks of social exchange theory, role theory, and systems theory. The synthesis suggested relationship variables about affection, ambivalence, assistance, association, and filial obligation. Other variables were about family structure and individual demographics. Methods of data analysis included measures of central tendency and percentages for descriptive findings, t-tests for comparative analysis, various correlation tests for strength of association, and z statistics for testing proportions. The significance level for this exploratory study was set at.20. Major findings include (1) stepchild/stepparent relationships have some significant differences from stepchild/biological parent relationships, but absent perceived abuse of the stepchild by the stepparent in childhood, differences are reduced in number by half and nearly all are reduced in size and strength; (2) being a stepmother is associated with less positive relationships than being a stepfather; and (3) stepchild/stepparent relationships as reported by each, stepchild and stepparent, do have some incongruencies, but are more characterized by congruity of perception and by reciprocity than not. Conclusions are that (1) for the most part, adults raised as stepchildren relate positively to both step and biological parents; (2) stepfamily members may need to make extra efforts to overcome difficulties apparently inherent in the stepchild/stepmother relationship; (3) perceived childhood abuse of stepchild by stepparent effects stepfamily relationships beyond childhood; and (4) in general, adult stepchildren and their stepparents demonstrate shared perceptions of their relationship.
DescriptionUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore. Social Work. Ph.D. 1993
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies