Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 54 (2013), pp 414–437.


Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


This study explored the experience and expression of emotions of adult stepchildren during four critical events in stepfamily life. During semistructured, in-depth interviews, 57 adult stepchildren shared stories about four critical events: the parental divorce, remarriage of one of the parents, an event in the stepfamily that generated feeling more like a family, and an event in the stepfamily that generated feeling less like a family. A total of 402 pages of single- spaced transcripts were coded for emotion, target, and expression of emotion resulting in positive and negative emotion categories and subcategories for all four critical events. Five research questions centered on the emotions commonly experienced during the four aforementioned critical events, the targets of disclosure, and the patterns that indicate a tendency to manage emotion expression.