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"Becoming a family": developmental processes represented in blended family discourse

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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.

Keywords: Stepfamily; adaptation; boundary management; relationship development; trajectories

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2: Cleveland State University 3: Pennsylvania State University 4: Univ. of Northern Co. 5: University of Northern Iowa

Publication date: August 1, 2001


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