Marriage and Cohabitation

By Arland Thornton; William G. Axinn et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Influence of Parental Factors during Childhood and Adolescence of the Children*

The key message of the previous chapter is that the influences on children's union-formation experiences can be traced backward for at least two generations, to the immigration status, farm background, religious affiliation and commitment, and childbearing experience and preferences of parents and grandparents. The union-formation behaviors of young people are also influenced by their parents' marital experiences, family organization, and patterns of interactions. Most remarkable is the fact that many dimensions of the parental family observed before or soon after a child is born can have strong implications for the union-formation behavior of the child many years later.

This chapter is motivated by the observation that parental families are not static entities, but dynamic and evolving organizations. Although children may experience many continuities in family life from infancy through childhood and into adolescence, most also experience numerous changes in their family environments. Many of these changes can be dramatic—even shocking—as in the case of parental divorce, death, or remarriage. Other parental family changes may also seem significant for the child, such as parental unemployment, entering the labor force for the first time, religious conversion, having a new baby, or going back to school. Other parental family changes may happen more slowly—sometimes even imperceptibly—yet

*Li-Shou Yang collaborated in the analysis and writing of this chapter.

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