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Stepfather-Stepson Communication

Social Support in Stepfamily Worlds

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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 Eight. The Jones Family

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← 80 | 81 → • CHAPTER EIGHT •

The Jones Family

The culture of support maintained in the Jones family is based on active engagement with one another through shared family and individual connecting points. The family culture of support and the relational culture of support between stepfather Jim and his stepson Jake seem to be fully congruent with one another. That is, what counts as supportive at the relational level also counts as supportive at the level of the family system. The culture of support, relationships, and communication patterns are satisfactory to all members. There are challenges the family faces, particularly challenges that disrupt the routine connection. Nevertheless, the Joneses maintain an interactive culture of support through daily rituals. Jim Jones works in the information technology field. Sally Jones recently began attending graduate school. The boys, Jared Patel, Daniel Jones, and Jake Patel, are 15, 12, and 10, respectively. Daniel is Jim’s biological son, while Jared and Jake are both Sally’s boys. This case looks at the role of stepfather and family rituals that evidence the culture of support between Jim and Jake as well as in the Jones family system.

Stepfather Role

The role of stepfather in the Jones family is analogous to the father role. Jim explained, “I envision a stepfather to be a dad, a father, and not to be based on that biological line drawn” (7.02-224). Jim did not always think this way. He explained that Sally and her positive relationship...

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