Social Support in Stepfamily Worlds
Chapter Ten. Stepfather, Stepson, and Stepfamily Patterns
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Stepfather, Stepson, and Stepfamily Patterns
Having detailed examples of emotional, informational, and instrumental support across the six cases and having described how support messages are communicated through interaction, I now turn to identify five patterns that emerged from examining these stepfamilies. To provide context for these patterns, I examine each in light of existing research on stepfathers. The first three patterns articulate what stepfathers provide their stepsons in terms of support. The fourth pattern highlights how stepsons interpret supportive communication. The fifth pattern illustrates the complexity of communicating support in stepfamilies where a nonresident father and family is involved. Patterns reported in this multiple-case analysis prefigure the model of supportive communication, which is presented in chapter eleven.
The first three patterns describe aspects of support that were most relevant to stepfathers. These include findings that stepfathers enact a typical or predominant type of support: they communicate support in ways that align with their relational culture of support. Stepfathers also express differential motivation for supporting their stepsons. Finally, stepfathers draw on their previous fathering experience and seek to transmit social capital to their stepsons.
Predominant Type of Support
One pattern that persisted across cases was that each stepfather seemed to default to one primary type or combination of types of support over the others. In essence, the default type of support characterized the stepfather-stepson relational culture of support. One way of understanding the...
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