“Are we in or out?” Inclusion of stepparents within a co-parenting system: A phenomenological study
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to learn about the lived experiences of stepparents within a co-parenting system. Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory was used to understand stepparent inclusion within a co-parenting system. One research question was developed for this study: What are the lived experiences of stepparents within a co-parenting system? Eleven stepparents completed a demographic questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. Interviews were conducted virtually and data were analyzed to develop themes. Bracketing and analyst triangulation were used to help contribute to trustworthiness of the data. Six themes emerged from the data: (1) I do not want to replace your mom or dad, (2) My spouse and I work together to parent the kids, (3) My relationship with the biological parent is not the best, (4) Over time I have been accepted more, (5) I have a good relationship with my stepchildren, and (6) I have someone to depend on. The results of the study were compared to the existing literature and conclusions were drawn. Study strengths and limitations and recommendations for practice and future research were presented.