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Stepfather-Stepson Communication

Social Support in Stepfamily Worlds


Jonathan Pettigrew

This book offers a novel analysis of communication in stepfather-stepson relationships and is one of the first to examine the ways stepfathers communicate and to integrate the perspectives of adolescents into research on stepfamily communication. In order to understand the complex dynamics of stepfamilies, Jonathan Pettigrew presents six case studies of different families. They are written as engaging narratives – including interviews – that offer flavorful accounts of family members and their relationships with each other. Pettigrew then looks across cases to identify, describe, and examine patterns of stepfather support. This book builds upon current understandings of stepfamily life by providing a descriptive and heuristic model of supportive stepfather-stepson communication, making it valuable for those who study and work with families.
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Chapter Three. The King Family


← 26 | 27 → • CHAPTER THREE •

The King Family

The stepfather-stepson relational culture of support in the King family is integrally fused with the family culture of support and centers on nurturing responsibility. Stepdad Nick King and mother Julie King think that getting involved in a variety of activities is healthy for their kids; it keeps them out of trouble. Hence, the family stays busy. Nick works as a skilled laborer. His work takes him away from his house about half past six o’clock in the morning. He returns to the family’s property around four in the afternoon and has a variety of ongoing projects that occupy the remaining daylight hours at home. His wife, Julie, holds an associate degree in business and works as an administrative assistant. She visits the gym every day, goes to the office, and returns home around six in the evening after about a 25 minute commute. The three children, all Julie’s biological children, are each involved in extracurricular activities. Matt Smith, 17, plays soccer, marches in the school band, and participates in a drama club. Suzanne Smith, 15, is a star soccer player for the local high school. Christian Smith, the youngest of the three and the target youth in this family, is involved in a homework club after school and is part of the Boy Scouts of America. Through encouraging involvement in these activities, particularly Scouts, Nick seeks to support Christian. Scouts exposes him to outdoor recreation, teaches him responsibility, and...

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