The purpose of the current study was to identify types of role strain and social supportive behaviors utilized within on online social support group for childless stepmothers. A contents analysis of sixty-two message sets downloaded from an online support group for childless stepmothers identified multiple factors and relationships that affect the mental and emotional health of these women. Chi-square goodness of fit tests revealed prominent themes of role strain such as the living arrangements and visiting schedules of the stepchildren, as well as the uncertainty inherent in how to act toward the biological mother, and the actual interference of the biological mother in the functioning of the stepmother household. Although no significant differences were found between custodial and noncustodial stepmothers, correlations among all childless stepmothers revealed interesting relationships between role strain and offered social support with informational and emotional support being the most commonly coded social support categories. This study expands the current literature in three important ways (1) this study extends previous research on stepmother role clarity by pinpointing specific issues and relationships which impact the role strain stepmother's experience, (2) within a stress and coping framework, this report focuses on the reappraisal process and coping efforts by analyzing actual messages written and received online, and (3) this study extends the literature concerning online social support and the advantages of using weak tie networks not only for medical based issues, but relationship based issues, as well.
|Advisor:||Johnson, Amy J.|
|Commitee:||Mayeux, Lara, O'Hair, Henry D., Pfau, Michael W., Wright, Kevin B.|
|School:||The University of Oklahoma|
|Department:||Department of Communication|
|School Location:||United States -- Oklahoma|
|Source:||DAI-A 69/11, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Communication, Individual & family studies, Mass communications|
|Keywords:||Childless, Communication, Online support group, Role strain, Social support, Stepfamilies, Stepmother|
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