Stepfathers face a number of challenges related to their role, not least of which is their own identity as a father and stepfather. This article examines the development of the stepfather identity in the life of Tom, the 31-year-old stepfather of Gregory. Qualitative interviews were conducted with Tom, Gregory, and Gregory's mother Macie. Analysis is framed using the communication theory of identity (Hecht, 1993). Findings from this instrumental case study (Stake, 1995) demonstrate that even 10 years after meeting his stepson, Tom has not "arrived" at a stepfather identity. The case also highlights the importance of the enacted identity frame (i.e., "fatherly" communication) in defining Tom's identity as a stepfather, which was somewhat different from his identity as a biological father. Findings are discussed in light of research on stepfathers' communication and identity.
- lifespan development
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