The Effects of Family Structure and Family Process on the Psychological Well-Being of Children: From the Children's Point of View

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1997-05-08
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

The impact of family structure on children’s outcomes is a highly debated topic in literature on the family. This research made an attempt to engage in this debate by testing the family process perspective. Theorists who favor this perspective believe that the effects of family structure on children can be mediated by the family processes occurring within families, such as the quality of parent-child relationships. The psychological wellbeing of children from six family structures were compared. After controlling for family processes and background variables the majority of the effects of family structure on children’s psychological well-being disappeared. Only children from stepfamilies had significantly lower levels of psychological well-being than children from intact homes. Stepfamilies, however, are a very complex family form and this research could not account for the possible unique processes occurring within stepfamilies. Finally, children from divorced homes did not have significantly lower levels of psychological well-being even before family processes and background variables were controlled. Overall, this research shows support for the family process perspective.

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Family Structure, Children's Psychological Well-Being, Family Process
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