Perceived Boundary Negotiations With Former Partners Among Queer Stepfamilies

Autumn M. Bermea, Brad van Eeden-Moorefield, Jacqueline Bible

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Despite the large body of research on stepfamilies, research on stepfamilies headed by same-gender couples remains quite scant. Furthermore, research that does exist tends to examine only one member of the family (e.g., stepparent, stepchild). Little to no stepfamily research uses data from multiple stepfamily members to understand relational patterns among stepfamilies. This includes interactional patterns with prior partner(s) and the family as a whole, which research suggests are often prone to negative conflict. The present study uses grounded theoretical methodology to examine the boundary negotiation styles among 6 cisgender, same-gender headed stepfamilies. Data came from 3 sets of interviews per family: 6 family-level interviews with a total 22 participants, interviews with 10 participants in stepcouples, and interviews with the 12 focal children. At the time interviews were conducted, stepfamilies had engaged in both beneficial and hindering interactions to create family boundaries that were open, in negotiation, and closed. Families described interactions typically reported in the general stepfamily literature. However, these families also discussed unique experiences of heteronormativity and homophobia within these interactions. Findings suggest that future research should explore the variations among these stepfamilies. In addition to general recommendations for working with stepfamilies, practitioners should also engage the use of queer-affirmative counseling practices to combat experiences of homophobia in this process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Divorce
  • Family systems theory
  • Grounded theory
  • LGBT
  • Stepparents

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