Date of Completion

Spring 5-9-2010

Thesis Advisor(s)

Shannon E. Weaver

Honors Major

Human Development and Family Studies


Family, Life Course, and Society | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences


A grounded theory study was conducted with ten (7 female, 3 male) emerging-adults in stepfamilies to examine their perceptions and experiences of their stepparents, and what factors influence the development and maintenance of these steprelationships. Three primary categories emerged from the data: (1) Stepchildrens' perceptions of their stepparents presence in their lives, including both physical closeness and physical and emotional involvement (2) The perceived level of authenticity within the steprelationship, and (3) The level of clout stepchildren afforded to their stepparents' position within their lives and families.

Additional factors found to influence the levels of presence, authenticity, and clout were stepchildrens' emotional maturity, cultural background, relationships with their biological parents, and feelings regarding the use and acquisition of money.