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Stepmothers’ experiences of achieving satisfactory stepmother-stepdaughter relationships Howell-Jones, Gail


The stepfamily has always been part of western society. However, only in the past two decades has it been given much attention, and in spite of suggestions that the stepmother-stepdaughter relationship is both the most problematic of step relationships, even contemporary literature virtually ignored it. Using an interview and validation format, this research explored the experiences of 6 stepmothers as they defined and negotiated satisfactory relationships with their stepdaughters. Specifically the researcher interviewed six stepmothers who described themselves as having achieved what they believed to be satisfactory relationships with their stepdaughters. Five themes emerged from these narratives: The ability to balance Emotional and behavioural Distance with Openness, the Ability to Engage in Positive Persistence, the Ability to develop a Unique and valued Role in the Lives of their Stepdaughters, the Need for a Supportive Partner, and the Need to Relax Expectations of Self and Other.

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