The Impact of Stepfamily Adjustment on Adult Attachment: A Comparison of American Indians and Whites

  • Brooke Willis Brigham Young University
  • Gordon Limb Brigham Young University
Keywords: American Indian, Native American, stepfamily, attachment, emerging adults

Abstract

One-third of American children will spend time in a stepfamily. Stepfamily formation is often accompanied by heightened amounts of stress. This study examined the effects of stress on attachment for American Indian and White emerging adults who spent time in stepfamilies. Participants of the STEP study were between the ages of 18 and 30 and spent at least one year in a stepfamily before the age of 18. Ordinary Least Square regressions were run to identify correlations and relationships. Interactions were examined between race and stress to identify the moderating effects that race had on attachment outcomes. Results indicated that an individual’s level of education, gender and race all impacted their emerging adult attachment outcomes. American Indians had higher overall attachment outcomes than Whites. However, the impacts of stress on attachment did not differ by race. Implications of these findings are also discussed.

References

Adler-Baeder, F., Robertson, A., & Schramm, D. G. (2010). A conceptual framework for marriage education programs for stepfamily couples with considerations for socio-economic context. Marriage and Family Review, 46, 300-322. doi: 10.1080/01494929.2010.500531

Amato, P. R. (2010). Research on divorce: Continuing trends and new developments. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3), 650-666. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00723.x

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss volume 1. New York: Basic Books.

Brave Heart, M. Y. (1999). Gender differences in the historical trauma response among the Lakota. Journal of Health & Social Policy, 10(4), 1-21.

Brown-Rice, K. (2013). Examining the theory of historical trauma among Native Americans. The Professional Counselor, 3(3), 117-130. Retrieved from http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org/examining-the-theory-of-historical-trauma-among-native-americans/

Christensen, M. & Manson, S. (2001). Adult attachment as a framework for understanding mental health and American Indian families: A study of three family cases. American Behavioral Scientist, 44(9), 1447-1465. doi:10.1177/00027640121956890

Dunn, J. (2002). The adjustment of children in stepfamilies: Lessons from community studies. Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 7(4), 154-161. doi: 10.1111/1475-3588.00028

Dunn, J. & Deater-Deckard, K. (2001). Children’s views of their changing families. New York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Ganong, L. & Coleman, M. (2004). Stepfamily relationships: Development, dynamics, and interventions. New York: Kluwer Academics.

Ganong, L. H., Coleman, M., & Jamison, T. (2011). Patterns of stepchild-stepparent relationship development. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73(2), 396-413. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00814.x

Green, K. M., Eitle, T. M., & Eitle, D. (2014). Adult social roles and alcohol use among American Indians. Addictive Behaviors, 39(9), 1357-1360. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.04.024

Ham, B. D. (2004). The effects of divorce and remarriage on the academic achievement of high school seniors. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 42(1–2), 159–178. doi: 10.1300/J087v42n01_08

Jensen, T. M., Shafer, K., & Holmes, E. K. (2017). Transitioning to stepfamily life: The influence of closeness with biological parents and stepparents on children’s stress. Child & Family Social Work, 22, 275-286. doi: 10.1111/cfs.12237 Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cfs.12237/full

Limb, G. E., Shafer, K., & Sandoval, K. (2014). The impact of kin support on urban American Indian families. Child & Family Social Work, 19(4), 432-442. doi:10.1111/cfs.12041

Lonczak, H. S., Fernandez, A., Austin, L., Marlatt, G. A., & Donovan, D. M. (2007). Family structure and substance use among American Indian youth: A preliminary study. Families, Systems, & Health, 25(1) 10-22. doi:10.1037/1091-7527.25.1.10

Malekpour, M. (2007). Effects of attachment on early and later development. The British Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 53(105), 81-95. doi: 10.1179/096979507799103360

Matsuoka, N., Uji, M., Hiramura, H., Chen, Z., Shikai, N., Kishida, Y., & Kitamura, T. (2006). Adolescents' attachment style and early experiences: A gender difference. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 9(1), 23-9. doi:10.1007/s00737-005-0105-9

Mikulincer, M., Victor, F., Cowan, P. A., & Cowan, C. P. (2002). Attachment security in couple relationships: A systematic model and its implications for family dynamics. Family Process, 41(3), 405-434. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2002.41309.x

National Association of Social Workers. (2008). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from https://socialwork.utexas.edu/dl/files/academic-programs/other/nasw-code-of-ethics.pdf

Papernow, P. L. (2013). Surviving and thriving in stepfamily relationships: What works and what doesn’t. New York: Routledge.

Planitz, J. M., Feeney, J. A., & Peterson, C. C. (2009). Attachment patterns of young adults in stepfamilies and biological families. Journal of Family Studies, 15(1), 67-81. doi: 10.5172/jfs.327.15.1.67

Sachs, S. M. (2011). Remembering the traditional meaning and role of kinship in American Indian societies, to overcome problems of favoritism in contemporary tribal government. Indigenous Policy Journal, 22(2) 1-12. Retrieved from http://www.indigenouspolicy.org/index.php/ipj/article/view/36/85

Simpson, J. A., Collins, W. A., Farrell, A. K., & Raby, K. L. (2015). Attachment and relationships across time: An organizational-developmental perspective. In V. Zayas & C. Hazan (Eds.), Bases of adult attachment (pp. 61-78). New York: Springer.

Simpson, J. A., Rholes, W. S., & Nelligan, J. S. (1992). Support seeking and support giving within couples in an anxiety-provoking situation: The role of attachment styles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(3), 434-446. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.59.5.971

Sroufe, L. A., & Fleeson, J. (1986). Attachment and the construction of relationships. In W. W. Hartup & Z. Rubin (Eds.) Relationships and development (pp. 51-57). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

U. S. Census Bureau. (2010). Adopted children and stepchildren: 2010. Retrieved from

http://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p20-572.pdf

Van Eeden-Moorefield, B., Pasley, K., Dolan, E. M., & Engel, M. (2007). From divorce to remarriage. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 47(3-4), 21-42. doi:10.1300/J087v47n03 02

Weaver, H. (1998). Indigenous people in a multicultural society: Unique issues for human services. Social Work, 43(3), 203-211.

Whitbeck, L. B., Adams, G. W., Hoyt, D. R., & Chen, X. (2004). Conceptualizing and measuring historical trauma among American Indian people. American Journal of Community Psychology, 33(3), 119-130. doi: 10.1023/B:AJCP.0000027000.77357.31

Section
Articles