The stepfamily literature is replete with between-group analyses by which youth residing in stepfamilies are compared to youth in other family structures across indicators of adjustment and well-being. Few longitudinal studies examine variation in stepfamily functioning to identify factors that promote the positive adjustment of stepchildren over time. Using a longitudinal sample of 191 stepchildren (56% female, mean age = 11.3 years), the current study examines the association between the relationship quality of three central stepfamily dyads (stepparent-child, parent-child, and stepcouple) and children's internalizing and externalizing problems concurrently and over time. Results from path analyses indicate that higher levels of parent-child affective quality are associated with lower levels of children's concurrent internalizing and externalizing problems at Wave 1. Higher levels of stepparent-child affective quality are associated with decreases in children's internalizing and externalizing problems at Wave 2 (6 months beyond baseline), even after controlling for children's internalizing and externalizing problems at Wave 1 and other covariates. The stepcouple relationship was not directly linked to youth outcomes. Our findings provide implications for future research and practice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)