Adolescent Relationships as a Mediator between Childhood Family Structure Turbulence and Young Adult Union Formation

Mindy E. Scott, Child Trends
Kate Perper, Child Trends
Erin Schelar, Child Trends

This study examines whether the association between childhood family structure history and young adult union formation is mediated by adolescent relationship turbulence. Secondarily, we test parental monitoring as a mediator between family structure history and adolescent relationship turbulence. We use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health which includes detailed information on respondents’ parents’ relationship histories as well as relationships the respondents themselves formed in their adolescent and young adult years. We use structural equation models to examine both direct and indirect (mediating) influences. We expect that youth who experienced multiple changes in family composition during childhood or who lived in, and spent a greater number of years in, non-traditional family forms will experience more turbulent adolescent relationships (i.e., more sexual or non-sexual relationships). Furthermore, those who have a more turbulent record of adolescent relationships will be more likely to form marriages or cohabitations at an early age.

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Presented in Poster Session 7