Social Support in Stepfamily Worlds
Chapter Nine. Types of Supportive Communication
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Types of Supportive Communication
The purpose of this chapter is to describe ways stepfathers across the six cases showed support to their stepsons. I organize this chapter into four sections. The first three sections discuss three types of support: emotional, instrumental, and informational (see McNeely & Barber, 2010; Wills et al., 1996). At a very broad level, these types of support encompass the possible interactions stepfathers might have with their stepsons. I identify and describe types of behaviors and practices relevant to each of these broad categories. In the fourth section I examine how these types of support converged or conflicted during stepfather-stepson interactions.
Stepfathers showed their stepsons emotional support in a variety of ways, which are described in this section. They showed affection, provided encouragement, and praised their stepchild. This occurred both verbally and nonverbally. Stepfathers also spent time with their stepsons in one-on-one settings as well as with the entire family. Stepfathers communicated emotional support in ways particular to their position as stepfathers—stepfathers “claimed” their stepsons as their own (Marsiglio, 2004a). Although all six stepfathers admitted the importance of claiming their stepsons at some level, they varied in the extent to which they believed and practiced “claiming.” In this section, I also present how stepsons, through the use of the “Dad” label, claimed their stepfathers as their own.
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