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Family Structure and Conflict: Nest-Leaving Expectations of Young Adults and Their Parents

Frances K. Goldscheider and Calvin Goldscheider
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 87-97
DOI: 10.2307/352371
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352371
Page Count: 11
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Family Structure and Conflict: Nest-Leaving Expectations of Young Adults and Their Parents
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Abstract

Whether unmarried children should continue to live with their parents until marriage or should move out and establish an independent residence beforehand is a family decision that involves both the child and the parents, reflecting and affecting the relationships between the generations. In this article, we explore the expectations of parents about the sequence of marriage and nest-leaving for their children and consider how the factors influencing parents' expectations resemble those that shape their children's. We examine intergenerational differences in expectations and ask: How does variation in family structure, particularly membership in one-parent and step-parent families, influence the expectations of parents and children about premarital residential independence (PRI)? Using data from students in the High School and Beyond (HSB) senior cohort, together with their parents, we show that young adults are more likely than their parents to expect PRI, in two-parent as well as in one-parent and stepparent families. The effects of family structure operate through different pathways, however. Stepparent families lead to greater expectation of PRI because children are expected to establish an independent residence at an early age and to marry at a normal age, a pattern reflecting the low intergenerational closeness experienced in families in which stepparents and stepchildren must relate to each other in the same household. In contrast, young people from mother-only families expect PRI only because they expect to delay marriage.

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