Family relationships and adolescents' health and adjustment: Implications of congruous and comepensatory relationship patterns
Extant research and theory highlight multiple constellations of family relationships, with most work indicating the congruous nature of family relationships (e.g., positivity in parent-child relationship is associated with positivity in the sibling relationship). Nevertheless, other work highlights the compensatory nature of some relationships, particularly sibling relationships, noting their ability to attenuate risks associated with deficits in other relationships. Building on previous research, this dissertation identified different patterns of family relationships and examined their implications for adolescents' health and well-being. Specifically, this dissertation: (a) used a person-oriented approach (i.e., cluster analysis) to discover different family relationships patterns using multiple affective dimensions (i.e. conflict and intimacy) across multiple family relationships; (b) examined the associations between relationship types (i.e., cluster membership) and adolescents' health and adjustment, as well as moderating roles of ecological stressors; and (c) explored individual and family factors associated with the different relationship patterns. These goals were achieved via two separate empirical studies. The first study used data from the Purdue Parent Adolescent and Sibling Study (n = 295) and the second study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n = 695). Analyses found evidence for both congruous and compensatory relationship patterns. Harmonious relationship patterns were associated with positive adolescent adjustment (e.g., high GPA, low delinquency) and hostility in any of the family relationships was associated with poorer adjustment (e.g., higher internalizing and externalizing behaviors). Results indicated that ambivalence in parent-adolescent or sibling relationships had the potential to decrease positive adjustment, however positivity in the other relationship buffered the impact of ambivalence. In the absence of intimacy with fathers (and to a lesser extent with mothers), siblings presented with high levels of intimacy with each other, referred to as sibling compensation. Having a compensatory relationship with siblings appeared to protect first-born siblings from some negative outcomes (e.g., delinquency, drug use) but not others (e.g., alcohol use). Second-born siblings, however, did not appear to benefit from sibling compensation. Moderation analyses revealed some significant interactions between cluster membership and ecological stressors, a large number of the analyses, however, lacked statistical power. Individual and family characteristics including age, gender, ethnicity, SES, and parental differential treatment were associated with cluster membership. Results and discussion highlight the importance of studying family relationship configurations and the protective role of siblings. Implications for interventions are discussed as well.
Whiteman, Purdue University.
Individual & family studies
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