The Increasing Diversity and Complexity of Family Structures for Adolescents

Lisa D. Pearce, George M. Hayward, Laurie Chassin, Patrick J. Curran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The structure of adolescents’ families, and thus parental forms, in the United States, have become more heterogeneous and fluid over the past several decades. These changes are due to increases in never-married, single parents, divorce, cohabitation, same-sex parenting, multipartnered fertility, and co-residence with grandparents. We document current diversity and complexity in adolescents’ families as important context for rethinking future parenting theory and research. We also discuss how understandings of adolescents’ families are somewhat limited by current methods used to measure characteristics of families. We recommend social network and profile-based methods as alternatives to capturing key dimensions of family structure and processes. Understanding the diversity of households and families in which adolescents are raised can improve theory and research on parenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-608
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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