Family structural and process variables in emerging adults' romantic relationship quality
Prior research has indicated that family experiences, including parental divorce, interparental conflict, and the parent-child relationship, play an important role in adult children’s romantic relationships (e.g., Wallerstein & Lewis, 1998; Mahl, 2001; Harvey & Fine, 2004). Research on how these variables may work in combination and on how these family experiences affect romantic relationships during the developmental period of emerging adulthood is lacking. The current study investigated the impact that family divorce has on features of emerging adults’ romantic relationships. It also examined whether these relationships are mediated by parent-child relationship, are moderated by interparental conflict, and vary with gender and age at the time of divorce.A total of 310 students between the ages of 18-25 from University of Saskatchewan participated in this study. Contrary to the hypothesis, the findings showed that in their romantic relationships emerging adults from divorced families, compared to emerging adults from intact families, had a higher degree of three romantic features: care, commitment, and maintenance. Partly in line with the hypothesis, only retrospective interparental conflict moderated the link between family structure and romantic conflict. Finally, differences, regardless of family structure, were found between males and females, where females indicated having higher levels of intimacy and males indicated having higher levels of coercion in their romantic relationships. Possible explanations for the findings and implications for future research are discussed.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeMcDougall, Patricia; Elabor-Idemudia, Patience; Chirkov, Valery I.; Wormith, J. Stephen