Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Communication Monographs 75:2 (June 2008), pp 190–217. doi:10.1080/03637750802023163


Copyright © 2008 National Communication Association; published by Routledge. Used by permission.


This study examined the intrapersonal and interpersonal mechanisms underlying reported frequencies of everyday talk and relational satisfaction in stepfamilies. Participants included a parent, stepparent, and child from 114 stepfamilies (N = 342) from the Midwest and Southwest regions of the United States. Social relations model analyses revealed that everyday talk and relational satisfaction vary across stepfamily relationships as a function primarily of actor and relationship effects. Stepparents’ reports of everyday talk with the parent (i.e., their spouse) varied primarily as a function of actor effects, whereas reports of both children’s and parents’ satisfaction with the stepparent varied primarily as a function of relationship effects. Dyadic reciprocity emerged in the stepparent/stepchild relationship for reports of both everyday talk and satisfaction. Finally, stepparents engaging in everyday talk more frequently with stepchildren were more likely to be satisfied with stepchildren, and were more likely to have stepchildren reporting satisfaction with them, than stepparents engaging less frequently in everyday talk.