A Qualitative Investigation of Young Adult Stepchildren’s Experiences of Stepfather Authority

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dc.contributor.advisor Cartwright, C en
dc.contributor.advisor Seymour, F en
dc.contributor.author Mitchell, Jessica en
dc.date.accessioned 2014-02-05T02:47:04Z en
dc.date.issued 2013 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/21558 en
dc.description.abstract Stepfamily formation can be challenging for adults and children, particularly in regard to stepparent-child relationships, which are crucial for stepfamily functioning and child well-being. Stepparent authority is a particularly challenging and ambiguous area. This thesis investigated the range of young adult stepchildren’s experiences and perceptions of stepfather authority, particularly those perceived or identified as either positive or problematic. This thesis study comprised two studies: a self-report online questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews. Eighty-eight young adult stepchildren completed the questionnaire. Ten participants were selectively chosen to be interviewed from volunteers who completed the questionnaire and reported mainly positive experiences with stepfather authority. This was in order to provide insight into positive experiences of stepfather authority and processes that are associated with an acceptance of stepfather authority. Both studies were qualitative and the data was analysed using thematic analysis. The questionnaire results indicate that most participants experienced both positive and difficult aspects of stepfather authority. Participants identified that caring and practical and emotional support, including guidance and advice, were positive aspects of stepfather authority. Perceived warmth and support often led to increased respect for the stepfather and a positive relationship developing, which for some led to an acceptance of authority. Several benefits of authority were identified, including enhanced self-esteem and gaining a ‘father figure’. Some participants identified that the stepfather having no authority was positive. Difficult experiences related to the stepfather not being a biological parent, the stepfather attempting to adopt an authority role at an inappropriate time, adjustments to a new authority figure, authoritarian and harsh discipline, and negative impacts on the parent-child relationship. There were a range of opinions regarding stepfather influence, with the majority of participants stating the stepfather could have influence if certain conditions were met, especially if a positive relationship with the stepfather had developed. There were a range of experiences with stepfather authority identified in Study Two. Some participants reported difficulties, although all reported positive experiences overall. All participants’ mothers maintained the primary disciplinarian role initially. A number of these participants described stepfathers taking a cautious approach to discipline initially and establishing a positive relationship with them, which allowed for his authority to be accepted. A caring attitude and support from the stepfather, and support of the mother were often reported. iii The disciplinary role of the stepfather tended to increase over time. Participants perceived benefits to the stepfather’s influence and discipline. Implications for stepfamily systems and clinical work with stepfamilies are discussed along with future research directions. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/ en
dc.title A Qualitative Investigation of Young Adult Stepchildren’s Experiences of Stepfather Authority en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The Author en
dc.rights.accessrights http://purl.org/eprint/accessRights/OpenAccess en
pubs.elements-id 425574 en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2014-02-05 en
dc.identifier.wikidata Q112903743

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