‘In the dark’: Voices of parents in marginalised stepfamilies: perceptions and experiences of their parenting support needs

Ann Day

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

The fastest growing family type in the UK is the stepfamily with social parenting an increasingly normal practice. Parenting policy and practice, which has increased exponentially over the last two decades, has historically been modelled on the biological nuclear family model with marginalised families the main recipients. The possibility that parents in marginalised stepfamilies might have separate and discrete parenting support needs to biological parents seems to be overlooked in policy, practice and research. Rather, the historical legacy of deficit, dysfunction and a ‘whiff’ of poor parenting in marginalised stepfamilies lingers on. The focus of the research was to determine marginalised parents’ perceptions and experiences of parenting in their stepfamily and their parenting support needs. Thematic analysis of the data revealed accounts that were interwoven throughout with strong moral undertones which seemed to categorise their lives. The parenting issues were different and more complex than those they had encountered before. The parents adopted biological family identities, but these didn’t fit with their social roles and often rendered them powerless in their relationships with stepchildren. This appeared to have a cumulative effect which impacted on the already fragile couple relationship. Despite the parents easy articulation of the parenting issues there was a contrasting unease and ambivalence in discussing parenting support needs. Parenting support seemed to be an irrelevance that could be disregarded. Ultimately the moral significance of the parents marginalised class positions appeared to be central to their lives, which has important implications for policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Hill, Michael, Supervisor
Publication statusIn preparation - Oct 2011

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