Date of this Version
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 21:4 (August 2004), pp. 447–467.
doi: 10.1177/ 0265407504044841
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.