Family Functioning and Child Outcomes in South Korean Adolescents in (Non) Divorced Families from a Longitudinal Framework
Shim, Hyunjoo, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Emery, Robert, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
This study used longitudinal data to examine levels and changes of family functioning and adolescent outcomes, the associations between family functioning and adolescent outcomes, and the mediational effects of parenting quality on the associations. All of those research questions were addressed, verifying latent factors of family functioning and adolescent outcomes using exploratory structural equation modeling and running various latent growth curve models against a nationally representative sample of 5,578 South Korean youth, who were followed annually across five years.
First, this study examined family functioning and adolescent outcomes in divorced families, while disentangling selection effects (the effect of preexisting conditions on child adjustment) from divorce-specific effects (the effects of divorce on child adjustment, while controlling for preexisting conditions) within its longitudinal framework. Overall, divorce is associated with lower levels of family functioning and adolescent outcomes. Specifically, selection effects were found for parenting quality, familial conflict, externalizing problems, internalizing problems, self-concept, and social stress, meaning adolescents in the divorced group experienced diminished family functioning and behavioral and emotional difficulties at the beginning of data collection. However, divorce specific effects were found for familial conflict and academic stress, suggesting that adolescents in divorced families experienced a steeper decrease in familial conflict and academic stress.
Second, this study also examined how areas of family functioning were associated with various domains of adolescent outcomes. Consistently, the levels and changes of familial conflict were related to the levels and changes of externalizing problems, internalizing problems, self-concept, academic stress and social stress. In addition, the levels and changes of parenting quality were related to the levels and changes of externalizing problems, internalizing problems, self-concept, academic stress and social stress. Further, the study explored the possibility that family functioning was differently associated with adolescent outcome, depending on group membership (ever-divorced vs. non-divorced). With select adolescent outcomes, stronger associations between family functioning and adolescent outcomes were held for the non-divorced group.
Third, this study explored which mechanisms might be driving the associations within a sample of South Korean youth. Consistently, familial conflict led to more externalizing problems, internalizing problems, academic stress, and social stress by direct exposure to familial conflict (i.e., direct effect) and through disrupted parenting (i.e. indirect effect). Further, direct effects of familial conflict consistently exerted more influence on adolescent outcomes (i.e, externalizing problems, internalizing problems, academic stress and social stress), than did indirect effects.
Fourth, this study offered comprehensive and nuanced pictures of adolescents’ adjustment to parental divorce by comparing adolescents from divorced and continuously-married families in South Korea. A couple of culture-specific findings in this study include 1) divorced families experience more familial conflict, yet, divorce seems to reduce familial conflict over time in South Korea (divorce-specific effect); 2) Adolescents who did not experience parental divorce felt that their pressure toward academic achievement accelerated more rapidly over time, than those who experienced parental divorce, while no overall difference in the level of academic stress was found.
PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Divorce, South Korea, family functioning, child outcomes, longitudinal associations, exploratory structural equation modeling, latent growth curve models
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