My Mother's Husband: Factors Associated with How Adolescents Label their Stepfathers


Maggie L Thorsen, Valarie King


Journal of Social and Personal Relationships


Adolescents in stepfamilies use different labels when describing their stepfather, such as "stepfather" or "mother's husband." These labels may reflect youths' sense of family identity or dynamics. The current study uses nationally representative data (Add Health) on a sample of adolescents living with their mothers and a married stepfather (n = 1192) to examine factors that may be associated with how teens describe their stepfather, and changes in this labeling over a year. Findings suggest that closeness with nonresident fathers increases the likelihood that teens avoid the "stepfather" label, while closeness with mothers increases the likelihood that they adopt the label. Closeness with their stepfather was not associated with how they label him. Other characteristics of the stepfamily are also important predictors of stepfather labeling.



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