Kirsten van Houdt , Stockholm University
With an increase in parental separation and repartnering, Western societies have witnessed an increase in the diversity of parent-child ties. As a result, the different dimensions of parenthood – such as biological relatedness, childrearing, living in one household and parental authority – are disconnected in an increasing number of families. This raises the question of how we define a ‘real’ parent-child tie. By studying stepparent claiming – the extent to which stepparents perceive their adult stepchildren as their own children – this study provides insight into how people define kinship and adds a new dimension to our knowledge about stepfamilies. Using the OKiN data, I study how the context of stepparent-child relations (e.g., co-residence, duration, stepchild’s age at start, marriage) and the relations to biological children relate to stepmothers’ and –fathers’ (N = 3,328) claiming. The findings suggest that the more similar the structural circumstances (co-residence, duration, etc.) are to ‘traditional’ parent-child relations, the more stepparents tend to claim stepchildren as their own, even controlling for the closeness between the stepparent and -children. Having own, biological children is associated with lower levels of claiming, which could indicate that stepchildren substitute biological children and/or that loyalty towards biological children keeps parents from claiming stepchildren as their own. Further analyses will focus on these mechanisms in more detail.
Presented in Session P2. Poster Session Ageing, Health and Mortality