Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Applied Communication Research 29:3 (August 2001), pp. 221–247.

doi: 10.1080/00909880128112


Copyright © 2001 National Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


We adopted a process-focus in order to gain a deeper understanding of how (step) blended family members experiencing different developmental pathways discursively represented their processes of becoming a family. Using a qualitative/interpretive method, we analyzed 980 pages of interview transcripts with stepparents and stepchildren. We studied the first four years of family development, using the five developmental pathways developed by Baxter, Braithwaite, and Nicholson (1999). Three salient issues identified in the family experiences were boundary management, solidarity, and adaptation. While the negotiation of these issues varied across the five trajectories, there were commonalities across family experiences that helped determine whether families had a successful experience of becoming a family. Implications for blended family researchers and practitioners are also discussed.