Parenting stress and attachment insecurity in young adulthood: A social relations model

Danming An, Justin Jager, Diane L. Putnick, Marc H. Bornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: We used the Social Relations Model to inspect the individual- and dyad-specific components of attachment among young adults and their parents, and examined the relationship between these components and parenting stress. Background: Young adulthood is a transitional period in which the whole family is concerned with “launching” the young adult and exploring new ways to interact with and attach to one another. However, research on young adulthood attachment has primarily focused on young adults' attachment style rather than reciprocal attachments among family members. Method: When the young adults were age 23, mothers, fathers, and young adults from 156 families reported their mutual attachment security. At ages 18 and 23, parents of the adolescent/young adult reported their parenting stress in interparental and parent–child relationship domains. Results: Attachment in the families of young adults can be separated into three components: (1) actor effects (each family member's internal working model of attachment), (2) partner effects (characteristics of each family member as an attachment figure), and (3) relationship effects (dyad-specific attachment between family members). Increase in parenting stress in a family subsystem (dyad of family members) predicted attachment insecurity within the subsystem. Additionally, compensatory effects across family subsystems were observed. Conclusion: Attachment in the family during young adulthood is explained by family members' own characteristics as well as dyad-specific interactions and is predicted by parenting stress in family subsystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-579
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • attachment
  • family systems
  • parenting stress
  • social relations model
  • young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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