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Objective: To investigate whether the interpersonal dynamics of closeness are different in stepfather–stepdaughter versus father–daughter relationships during adolescence.

Background: Establishing a general process model of the relational factors contributing to greater closeness between fathers and daughters is a preliminary step toward examining variations in such processes.

Method: The data were from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (ADD Health), a nationally representative sample of adolescents. Respondents were female adolescents who were living with either a biological father (n = 1,881) or stepfather (n = 273) and reported on the availability and involvement of their (step)fathers, as well as the communication and closeness in their relationship with him.

Results: Involvement and communication were predictors of closeness in both types of relationships, however, communication was a stronger predictor of closeness between stepfathers and stepdaughters. For adolescent girls living with a stepfather, greater involvement with their stepfathers was associated with greater closeness to their non-resident biological fathers. The length of the relationship between stepfathers and stepdaughters was not associated with levels of closeness.

Conclusions: Overall, these findings suggest that stepfather–stepdaughter relationships reflect similar interpersonal dynamics as father–daughter relationships but that establishing and maintaining these relationships through meaningful communication may be particularly important for stepfathers and stepdaughters.

Implications: Practitioners working to help stepfamilies build stronger relationships may want to stress that investing in shared activities and maintaining meaningful communication can be particularly important for establishing and maintaining positive relationships between stepfathers and stepdaughters.

Copyright Statement

This is the peer-reviewed version of the following article:

Campbell, C.G. & Winn, E.J.(2018). "Father–Daughter Bonds: A Comparison of Adolescent Daughters’ Relationships with Resident Biological Fathers and Stepfathers". Family Relations, 67(5), 675-686.

which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/fare.12342

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