Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Family studies

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Masters of Arts in Child, Family and community studies, 2012.


This qualitative research study conducted semi-structured interviews to explore the stepfamily experiences of ten individuals, aged eighteen to twenty four years. The findings indicated that the stepfamily brought challenges and a range of benefits to the participants’ life experiences. The key difficulties pertained to issues regarding conflict, lack of communication and complex challenges. The cited benefits of stepfamily experiences included improved financial resources, an additional parental figure, a sense of stability, opportunities for personal growth and the gaining of additional siblings. One significant finding of the study was the positive enduring bonds that some individuals made with stepparents and stepsiblings. The findings also highlighted that participants identified a lack of institutional support and acknowledgement of the stepfamily in Ireland. This study examined two stepfamily theoretical models, in terms of their respective application to the findings of this research study. Although there were useful aspects to both models, neither one was considered comprehensive enough to assist in the analysis of the findings of this study. It was concluded that stepfamily research needs to be further developed, both theoretically and empirically. It was also recommended that policies and practices be put in place, in order to support stepfamily members to manage the complexities and challenges of the stepfamily system.