Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 2003


Communication Reports 16:2 (Summer 2003), pp. 93–111.

doi: 10.1080/08934210309384493


Copyright © 2003 Western States Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


Family scholars have yet to explore substantially the day-to-day interactions of stepfamily systems. Our focus was on the everyday interactions of parent teams, adults who are co-parenting within different stepfamily households, describing the characteristics of their communication. Twenty-two parents, stepparents, and partners (N = 22) kept diaries for two weeks, each time they interacted with an adult in the other household. Results detail the frequency, timing, location, and length of interactions; initiator, channel, and topics; and reasons for interaction. Interactions were short, everyday encounters rather than extended, planned meetings. The majority of the interactions were via telephone, followed by face-to-face and electronic mail. Participants cited convenience and proximity as reasons for choosing these channels. The majority of topics discussed involved issues surrounding the children, involved little conflict, and adults were moderately satisfied with the interactions. Results suggest that these parent teams had achieved a state of equilibrium and developed ways to interact that worked reasonably well.