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 propose to collect 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 will focus 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.

Public Health Relevance

This study is a follow-up of about 200 European American and about 245 Mexican American two-parent families with at least two offspring that we have studied since the target youth in those families were in middle childhood and adolescence. The overarching goal is to learn how family relationship experiences in childhood and adolescence are linked to young adults'development and adjustment in the domains of love and work. These two domains are central to young adult development, and the choices young women and men make about their intimate relationships and occupations will have implications for their psychosocial and physical well-being throughout adult life.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Esposito, Layla E
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Pennsylvania State University
Other Health Professions
Schools of Allied Health Profes
University Park
United States
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Hochgraf, Anna K; McHale, Susan M; Fosco, Gregory M (2018) Parent responsiveness and gender moderate bidirectional links between self-esteem and weight concerns during adolescence. J Fam Psychol 32:828-834
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Sun, Xiaoran; McHale, Susan M; Updegraff, Kimberly A (2017) Maternal and Paternal Resources across Childhood and Adolescence as Predictors of Young Adult Achievement. J Vocat Behav 100:111-123

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