Parent-Child Relationships in Stepfather Families and Adolescent Adjustment: A Latent Class Analysis

Maggie L. Thorsen, Montana State University
Paul Amato, Pennsylvania State University

The current study draws on Waves I and III from Add Health to examine the closeness of parent-adolescent relationships in married mother-stepfather families (N = 1,934). Previous research has focused on children’s relationships with each parent separately. We use latent class analysis (LCA) to identify family constellations defined by adolescents’ relationships with all of their parents: mothers, stepfathers, and biological nonresident fathers. In particular, we (1) identify the most common underlying patterns of adolescent-parent relationships in stepfamilies, (2) determine the background characteristics that predict membership in these groups, and (3) examine how adolescents in these groups fare in terms of depressive symptoms, delinquency, and substance use. Results indicate that stepfamily relationships can be summarized with four latent classes. Adolescents in these classes differ on measures of adjustment, and many of these differences persist into the early adult years.

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Presented in Session 69: Family Structure and Child Outcomes