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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 Four. The Jacobs Family


← 36 | 37 → • CHAPTER FOUR •

The Jacobs Family

The relational culture of support between stepfather Darren and stepson Brad is geared toward providing Brad the opportunity to replicate Darren’s experiences. This culture of support is characterized by teaching and is profoundly shaped by Darren’s views on parenting boys, which, in turn, is defined by his own experiences as a boy. Whereas the culture of support is clear at the relational level, at the level of the family system it is more complex. The family culture of support seems to be dominated by, not integrated with, Darren’s views and beliefs so that when stepson Brad performs in ways that align with Darren’s views, he receives support from both his stepfather and biological mother; but, when Brad diverges from Darren’s views, he only is supported by his biological mother.

Darren Jacobs grew up in a smallish town located in a mountainous region of the country. He enjoys outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, backpacking, and hunting. A year ago, the Jacobs family moved to Darren’s hometown. The move also reified Darren’s influence on defining the culture of support in the Jacobs family. He and Karen, his wife, consider it a better place to raise a family than where they had been living. Brad Mason, a 14-year-old freshman in high school, is adjusting well to the change. He enjoys being close to his stepgrandparents who live across town. Brad is active in his local Boy Scouts of America troop,...

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