Family communication patterns that predict perceptions of upheaval and psychological well-being for emerging adult children following late-life divorce

John Leustek, Jennifer A. Theiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examined the experiences of emerging adult children following their parents’ divorce in later life. Drawing on family communication patterns theory, we examined each parent’s conformity orientation and conversation orientation as predictors of young adult children’s perceptions of family turbulence and feeling caught, which in turn predicted depressive symptoms and resilience. Young adult children (N = 171) who were over the age of 18 at the time of their parents’ divorce completed surveys about their family communication patterns and their perceptions of individual and family outcomes following the divorce. Our findings point to differing conformity and conversation orientations enacted by each parent. Mothers’ and fathers’ conformity orientations were associated with turbulence and feeling caught, but only fathers’ conversation orientation was associated with feeling caught. Perceptions of turbulence were positively associated with depressive symptoms and negatively associated with resilience for emerging adult children, but feeling caught was only positively associated with depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-187
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Divorce
  • emerging adulthood
  • family communication patterns
  • feeling caught
  • resilience

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