Nicole Josephson is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee:

  • Liang Tien, Psy.D., ABPP Committee Chair
  • Molly Reid, Ph.D., ABPP Committee Member
  • Tona McGuire, Ph.D., Committee member


Families, Family Life, Psychology, Mental health, Parenting, Half-Siblings, Blended Families, Phenomenology, stepchildren

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Blended families are a growing population and encompass a diversity of characteristics and family types. Among the different types of blended families are those with both stepchildren and mutual children. Research on the complex experience of parenting a mutual genetic child and a stepchild within a blended family is minimal. To better understand the unknown experience of such parents, this phenomenological study was conducted to provide an in depth description of the experience of simultaneously parenting mutual children and stepchildren within a blended family. In this phenomenological study the researcher conducted interviews with six participants who varied by gender, socioeconomic status, and age. The researcher followed Giorgi’s (2009) phenomenological method of data analysis. The findings of this study fit into six themes about these parents’ experiences of parenting half-siblings, including: I can parent, My children get along, We miss you, Let’s talk, It’s challenging and rewarding, and Different experiences. Among the conclusions of this research was the high value parents placed on the half-sibling relationship. Parents shared observations about their stepchildren taking time to adjust to the birth of the mutual child, half-siblings missing each other during visitations, and helping their mutual children navigate their experience and understanding of the stepchild’s visitations. Thus this research provided a rich description of the experience of parenting stepchildren and mutual children within a blended family. Such information might help inform custody arrangements as they affect the half-sibling relationship, evidence-based interventions, and family education in support of parents in blended families. The electronic version of this dissertation is available at Ohiolink ETD Center,


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