Document Type



Edith Cowan University


Supervisors: Dr Bronwyn Harman


Stepmothers are consistently underrepresented in stepfamily research (Orchard & Solberg, 1999), particularly nonresidential stepmothers (Johnson et al., 2008). The present research investigated how nonresidential stepmothers conceptualise, construct, and evaluate their roles, and to identify factors leading to their role adoption. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight nonresidential stepmothers residing in Perth, Western Australia, who had contact with their stepchildren for fifteen days or less per month. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data, and results indicated that in terms of their role conceptualisation, the participants perceived their role to have changed, compared their roles to existing roles, and also commented on their expectations for the role and certain behaviours they performed in the stepmother role. Roles were constructed primarily through interpersonal factors, such as talking with their husband or partner about their role, although personal factors and social factors were also important. The participants evaluated their roles primarily through feedback, and the stepchild's behaviour or how they presented. It is anticipated that these results will help inform services provided to nonresidential stepmothers.

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