Half siblings: adult children's perceptions of the dialectical tensions with a shared biological parent

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this study was to examine the unique relational tensions between adult children and the parent they share with a half sibling. Grounded in relational dialectics theory, transcripts from interviews of 17 half siblings were analyzed using thematic analysis to search for contradicting opposites that identified dialectical tensions between participants and their shared biological parent. Seven dialectical tensions between parent and child emerged and three dialectical tensions between half siblings were identified, along with conflict management strategies for the tensions within blended families. The themes of residence, age, and activities as involvement were influential on the connection between participants and their family members. The dialectical tensions of autonomy-connection, inclusion-seclusion, and revelation-concealment were both expressed between parent and child and between half siblings. Half siblings considered their relationship to be the same as full biological siblings, but a distinction was made if participants had full biological or stepsiblings. Half siblings felt their blended family dynamic was not abnormal, but felt they were socially stigmatized at times for not fitting the traditional definition of family.

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