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)