The extent to which current relationships with extended kin affect the likelihood that adult family members experience negative life events – such as serious psychological problems, financial difficulties, addictions, or criminal behavior – has received little attention in life course research, which typically focuses on the occurrence and timing of “normal” life events – that is, events occurring in almost every life course (e.g., marriage, parenthood, educational enrollment, employment).
This study used prospective data from a nationally representative panel study on Dutch families. A series of clustered logistic regression models were estimated for the separate types of negative events, while a post-estimation command was used to compare and combine effects across models.
We show that the likelihood to experience negative life events is indeed affected by the relationships one currently has with extended kin. Moreover, by distinguishing different characteristics of family relationships in our analyses, we were able to unravel the mechanisms through which they exert an influence. Current family relationships provide feelings of integration, a sense of meaning, and act as a source of support that can be mobilized if needed.
Given the impact negative life events have on individuals and families, as well as the costs they impose upon society, our results look promising for further advancing our understanding of the risks and the protective factors affecting the development of negative events in the lives of adults.
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research [400-08-203] and based on data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study, which is funded by grant 480-10-009 from the Major Investments Fund of the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO), and by the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam, and Tilburg University. We would like to thank Jeroen Weesie for his advice regarding the statistical analyses performed in this study, as well as Wilma Vollebergh and Peer Scheepers for providing useful comments on previous versions of this work.
Hogerbrugge, M.J.A. and Komter, A.E. (2014), "In Good and Bad Times? The Influence of Current Relations with Extended Kin on Negative Life Events", Family Relationships and Familial Responses to Health Issues (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 8A), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1530-35352014000008A001
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