This paper is an in-depth look at the often emotionally confusing relationship between stepmothers and stepchildren, particularly with stepdaughters.
This is a detailed paper that combines the results from 15 studies to determine how stepmothers and stepdaughters tend to interact, as well as what factors indicate the likelihood of successful or unsuccessful blended family adjustment.
“Research on blended families reveals that the stepmother-stepdaughter relationship has a superimposed emotional factor not present in the natural parent-child relationship, or any other blended dyad. This superimposed factor is the existence of the “wicked stepmother” myth throughout oral history. A quick look at traditional fairy tales provides a grim picture of the abusive, jealous stepmother and her long-suffering stepdaughter. Women can be seen as good surrogate mothers, but only when referred to as something other than “stepmother.” For example, the term “foster mother” or “adoptive mother” is associated with women’s unselfish, generous desires to care for orphaned children; however the term stepmother has connotations of neglect and abhorrence.”