Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3050 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 3P5 Canada.
Boundary Diffusion, Individuation, and Adjustment: Comparison of Young Adults Raised in Divorced Versus Intact Families
Article first published online: 5 NOV 2013
© 2013 by the National Council on Family Relations
Volume 62, Issue 5, pages 768–782, December 2013
How to Cite
Perrin, M. B., Ehrenberg, M. F. and Hunter, M. A. (2013), Boundary Diffusion, Individuation, and Adjustment: Comparison of Young Adults Raised in Divorced Versus Intact Families. Family Relations, 62: 768–782. doi: 10.1111/fare.12040
- Issue published online: 5 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 5 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 30 APR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 14 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 12 AUG 2012
- family boundaries;
- young adult adjustment
Anchored in structural family systems theory, this study investigated the role of psychological individuation during young adulthood in mediating the relationship between growing up in families with diffuse boundaries and poor psychological health outcomes. A sample of 404 young adults was recruited to reflect relatively equal numbers of individuals raised in two-parent married households and those who had experienced their parents' separation by age 14. Participants completed self-report questionnaires to assess specific types of cross-generational boundary diffusion in the forms of parentification and triangulation experienced in their adolescence, individuation, and general psychological and relationship adjustment. Experiences of boundary diffusion were commonplace recollections for young adults with divorced parents, revealing a large effect size in comparison to young persons raised in intact families. As expected, individuation mediated the significant relationship between boundary diffusion, especially in the form of triangulation, and psychological and relationship adjustment outcomes. The role of gender was explored.