Thesis

More Than Dad's Girlfriend: The Experience of Non-Biological Maternal Caretakers of Children

This study aims to understand the role of non-biological maternal caretakers in society. Examined in this qualitative study were non-biological maternal caretakers’ negotiations of their role. For this purpose, nine women who were in an unmarried dating relationship with a man who had children from a previous relationship were interviewed. The results indicate that these women experience struggles and challenges without clear behavioral expectations. The women navigated through issues surrounding language, boundaries, power struggles, stigma and confusion. Although mostly negative the women also experienced rewarding positive experiences. The results also showed that non-biological maternal caretakers use coping strategies in order to negotiate their role. These strategies include kinship models, informal and formal support systems and adaptation to situational norms and boundaries. This data showed that non-biological maternal caretakers use stigma management and are constantly adapting to the challenges and struggles they face.

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