From Emerging Adulthood
The family is a central developmental context for all individuals, yet the landscape of the family in the United States has undergone significant shifts over the last several decades, including rises in the rates of divorce, remarriage, cohabitation, and nonmarital childbearing). Consequently, stepfamilies have become commonplace. Nearly one third of all children will live in a married or cohabiting stepfamily household at some point before their 18th birthday. Relatively few studies have explored the processes of resilience by conducting within-group analyses that link certain stepfamily processes to variation in youth outcomes.
The purpose of this study is to draw connections between the quality of mother–child, stepfather–child, nonresident father–child, and stepcouple relationships—hypothesized sources of stepfamily resilience and concurrent and long-term levels of depression among individuals who lived in a stepfamily during adolescence.
Data came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Information from in-home youth interviews and parent questionnaires, as well as youth in-home interviews were used in this study.
Before reaching adulthood, one third of all youth in the United States will reside in a stepfamily household—a familial context marked by distinct challenges. Relatively few studies have explored family processes that promote youth adjustment in stepfamilies, and even fewer studies have examined these links across adolescence, emerging adulthood, and beyond. To address these gaps, we use a nationally representative sample of 758 adolescent stepchildren to examine the concurrent and long-term influence of mother–child, stepfather–child, nonresident father–child, and stepcouple relationship quality on stepchildren’s depression across three stages of development: adolescence, emerging adulthood, and young adulthood. Results from longitudinal structural equation modeling indicate that higher quality mother–child and stepfather–child relationships are directly associated with reductions in depression during adolescence and indirectly associated with reductions in depression during emerging and young adulthood via prior levels of depression; higher quality stepcouple relationships are directly associated with reductions in depression during emerging and young adulthood.
Stepfamily Relationship Quality and Stepchildren’s Depression in Adolescence and Adulthood
First Published October 5, 2016 Research Article
From Emerging Adulthood