Childhood Family Structure and Romantic Relationships during the Transition to Adulthood

Giuseppina Valle, Florida State University
Kathryn H. Tillman, Florida State University

We use the Add Health to examine whether childhood family structure experiences influence the development of romantic relationships during adolescence and whether adolescent relationships, in turn, help to shape long-term relationship trajectories. Young people who live in “non-traditional” families during their childhood are more likely than their peers to engage in romantic relationships during adolescence. Individuals who were raised in step-parent and single-parent families are also more likely to cohabit during adulthood, and those who were raised in single-parent families are less likely to have ever married. Childhood family structure is not associated with serious relationship conflict during adolescence or adulthood, however. Moreover, while adolescent relationship experiences have long-term effects on relationship trajectories, they do not significantly mediate the associations between childhood family structure and relationship outcomes in adulthood.

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Presented in Poster Session 6