The effects of stepmother-stepchild relationships on the quality of stepsibling relationships
The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine the quality of relationships between stepchildren and biological children in the stepmothers' families and the quality of stepmother-stepchild relationships, when compared by ages and genders of the children. In addition, this study investigated the effects of stepmother-stepchild relationships on the quality of stepchildren's and biological children's relationships. Family systems theory was utilized as a theoretical perspective in this study. One hundred and twenty-three stepmothers with children from ages 6 to 18 years in the United States were recruited primarily through the websites for Stepmom Magazine, CoParenting International, and Remarriage Works. The Sibling Inventor of Behavior (SIB) (Anderson & Rice, 1992) was used to measure the quality of the relationships between stepchildren and biological children. The results indicated that there was a significant difference between age groups but not gender groups in the Positive subscale. Conversely, gender groups but not age groups differed significantly in the Negative scale. Furthermore, the Parent-Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI) (Gerard, 1994) was used to measure the quality of stepmother-stepchild relationships. The results indicated that younger and older age groups of stepchildren did not differ significantly. But, there were significant differences between gender groups of stepchildren on Satisfaction, Limit Setting, and Role Orientation scales. Communication and Role Orientation were the best predictors of the Positive Dimension of stepchildren's and biological children's relationships as measured by the SIB. Limit Setting and Autonomy were the best predictors of the Negative Dimension of stepchildren's and biological children's relationships as measured by the SIB. Finally, the findings of this study may be useful to practitioners when designing parenting educational programs that apply specifically to stepmothers and their stepchildren. The findings of this study are also important for stepmothers to better understand that the roles they play with their stepchildren can impact positively or negatively on stepchildren's relationships with stepsiblings.