Developmental Family and Cultural Pathways to Young Adulthood

Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Forming satisfying intimate relationships and establishing oneself in the world of work are key tasks of young adulthood. Although success in these endeavors has significant implications for health and well-being across the lifespan, today’s young adults face these tasks at a time of dramatic economic decline and uncertainty. This project builds on two longitudinal studies, one beginning in middle childhood and one in adolescence, to examine how parents and siblings promote young adults’ development and adjustment in the domains of love and work.The Family Relationships Project has followed approximately 200, two-parent, working and middle class, European American families for about 10 years, since firstborn siblings were about 10, and secondborns, about 8 years of age. The Juntos Project studied 246, two-parent, working and middle class, Mexican American families when older siblings averaged 15, and younger siblings averaged about 12 years of age. We are now collecting two additional waves of data from mothers, fathers, and two young adult siblings in each family, as well as from young adults’ romantic partners, when young adults are in their 20s. Data collection focuses on young adults’ expectations and choices about romantic relationships, education, and work as well as their psycho-social adjustment to work and family roles. Analyses will be directed at identifying links between early family experiences and young adults’ love and work roles, and at assessing the ways in which family supports and stressors moderate those linkages in European and Mexican American families. Analyses also are directed at the role of child effects in early family dynamics, and ultimately in young adults’ choices about and adjustment to their work and family roles. In addition, comparable data on two siblings from each family allow us to examine nonshared family processes and to address the question of why two children growing up in the same family have similar, or markedly different, developmental trajectories and young adult outcomes. Together, our findings will illuminate how families work as socialization systems in development across adolescence and into young adulthood within two distinct cultural settings.


Top photograph: Back row (L to R): Susan Doughty, Suzanna Chatlos, Chrisitne Stanik, Catherine Kuhns, Elizabeth Riina, Susan McHale, Chum Bud Lam. Front row: Kristen Granger, Anne Tzschach, Sandra Schmidt. Bottom photograph: Sue Annie Rodriquez, Kimberly Updegraff, Lorey Wheeler, Adrianna Umana Taylor, Leticia Gelhard, Norma Perez-Brena.

Funding Agencies:   NIH/NICHD : Grant Number :R0IHD032336
Funding Period:  Mar 01, 2010 - Feb 28, 2015
Principal Investigator:  Susan McHale, PhD