A study of teen-agers' attitudes towards stepparents
The purpose of this study was to see if a negative stereotype image of a stepparent existed in the junior high and the high school age group. If it did exist, was it affected by the age of the group, junior high or high school; the sex of the student and the stepparent; the age the student acquired the stepparent; the reason for the natural parents' separation.; and the presence or absence of half or stepsiblings. The study was limited to 590 students from two rural communities in northern Illinois; 48 of these were stepchildren. A personal data sheet was designed to obtain background material about the student. The second part of the survey was a check list, composed of forty statements, twenty positive, and twenty negative, concerning ten parent-child problem areas. The student indicated his choice as to how often a mother, stepmother, father, or stepfather would make each statement as either: R, rarely; S, sometimes; or O, often. An analysis of this data showed the deviation from the neutral position was small, but a definite pattern of reactions did exist. A negative attitude toward stepparents was indicated. A negative attitude was found to be slightly higher among the following groups: in junior high; students without stepparents; those whose parents were separated by death; and those who had no half-or step-siblings. There was no consistent pattern between the sex of the child and the parent. The stepmother, however, received more negative responses than the other parents. A pattern that did exist throughout the entire subjects was a negative attitude toward the stepmother and the natural father. This was not found to be true in cases of the natural mother and the stepfather. Even though a definite pattern could be seen by the results, further studies need to be conducted before conclusive statements can be made.