Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Family-of-Origin Influence on Career Thoughts

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Family-of-Origin Influence on Career Thoughts

Article excerpt

The relational theory of working (Blustein, 2011) proposes that interpersonal relationships are essential to development of a meaningful work life. Family of origin provides critical interpersonal relationships for understanding vocational development (Blustein, 2011; Schultheiss, 2003). Family relationship dynamics, such as parent-child attachment, parental support, family cohesion, enmeshment, expressiveness, and conflict, have been found to influence a variety of career constructs (e.g., Shin & Kelly, 2013; Whiston & Keller, 2004), and research provides support for the family of origin as an important contextual influence on the career decision-making process (Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004; Schultheiss, 2003). It has been suggested that the family of origin provides an important locus for development of effective career decision-making skills that individuals access as they move into adulthood and start to make important career decisions (Bryant, Zvonkovic, & Reynolds, 2006). In the current study, we investigated the relationship between family-of-origin cohesion and adaptability and one's ability to make effective career decisions. In so doing, we sought to build on prior studies that have examined such links (e.g., Hartung, Lewis, May, & Niles, 2002; Johnson, Buboltz, & Nichols, 1999).

Family of Origin and Career Development

The rationale for investigating the relationship between familyof- origin dynamics and career development for college students is based on two considerations. First, the extant theory and research on family influences on career development (Blustein, 2001, 2004, 2006; Kenny & Medvide, 2013) and the time spent with one's family of origin provide a basis for advancing the idea that family-of-origin relationships are central to the development of important career tasks encountered by young adults. For example, Bryant et al. (2006) identified parents' responsiveness to their child's needs as affecting the development of the child's ability to engage in vocational exploration activities. Second, developmental career tasks encountered by young adults (e.g., integrating changing employment trends, societal needs, and economic conditions into career plans; National Career Development Association, 2017) can be understood within the context of the family life cycle (McGoldrick & Shibusawa, 2012). From a family life cycle perspective, the primary task for young adults in college is to weigh the consequences of their independence versus dependence from their family (e.g., "Should I challenge my parents' ideas about appropriate college majors?") as they enter the world of work and career. These decisions (e.g., "What are appropriate college majors?" or "How many hours should I work while in school?") are influenced by the nature of their family-oforigin relationships (McGoldrick & Shibusawa, 2012).

Research has demonstrated a relationship between constructive family cohesion and adaptability and career constructs. In research involving college students, functional family cohesion is associated with vocational identity, career decision-making self-efficacy, and more functional career thoughts (Guay, Senecal, Gauthier, & Fernet, 2003; Johnson et al., 1999; Kinnier, Brigman, & Noble, 1990; Penick & Jepsen, 1992; Shin & Kelly, 2013). In Guay et al.'s (2003) study of 834 college students, participants from families that were more controlling and less supportive of members' autonomy experienced less perceived competence related to career decision-making activities. Kinnier et al.'s (1990) study of 604 college students found that individuals from families with unhealthy levels of cohesion (i.e., enmeshed) were more likely to experience difficulty making career decisions. Research also supports the relationship between healthy parental attachment and career constructs such as career search self-efficacy, career decidedness, and vocational self-concept (O'Brien, Friedman, Tipton, & Linn, 2000; Scott & Church, 2001; Tokar, Withrow, Hall, & Moradi, 2003). …

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