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Adolescent Marital Expectations and Romantic Experiences: Associations With Perceptions About Parental Conflict and Adolescent Attachment Security

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 35 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2006 Pages: 333-348
Sara J. Steinberg; Joanne Davila; Frank Fincham
Date Published
June 2006
16 pages
This study examined links among 96 early-adolescent females' perceptions of conflict between their parents, secure attachment to their parents, and their romantic experiences and marital expectations.
The girls who perceived conflict between their parents also felt an insecure attachment to their parents. These perceptions were linked to negative marital expectations and romantic experiences. These findings are consistent with previous studies that have found links among parent-adolescent relationships, conflict between parents, and adolescent adjustment. Negative parent-child relationships have implications for children's short-term and long-term functioning. An adolescent's state of emotional security has also been found to negatively influence romantic outcomes in other studies. The authors advise that longitudinal research is necessary in order to determine the extent to which family factors actually lead to adverse romantic and marital outcomes. The girls who participated in this study were involved with their parents in a larger study of family and adolescent relationships. All resided in the greater Buffalo, NY area. The girls were from intact two-parent families. Ninety-one percent of the girls were in the eighth grade (average age of 13.24 years), and 91 percent described themselves as White. Parents completed questionnaires on marital conflict, and the girls privately completed questionnaires on perceptions of secure attachment to their parents, perceived conflict between parents, marital expectations, and romantic experiences, as well as neuroticism. In addition, the girls were privately interviewed about their attachment security with parents. 4 tables and 58 references