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Family Interaction during Teenage Years Shapes a Person's Future Relationships

Update Date: Feb 01, 2013 08:21 AM EST

Adolescence is a tricky and awkward time for children trying to fit in with the adult world. It is during this time that a person grasps abstract ideas of the society and the little nuances that make up a family and intimate relationships. According to a new study, family dynamics during early teenage years shape a person's future relationships, and teenagers raised in a positive family climate are more likely to have stable relationships in the future.

The study included data obtained from more than 50 people who were a part of the Iowa Youth and Families Project. Researchers evaluated the participants' interactions with their families when the participants were in the seventh grade.

A follow-up study, conducted some 17 years later, on the same participants showed that people who had positive interactions with their families had more positive relationships with their current partners. Also, spouses of these people had positive attitudes toward the relationship and were less likely to be hostile, according to a news release from Association for Psychological Science.

"Perhaps one of the most striking results from this work was that the quality of one marital partner's family climate during adolescence was associated with marital outcomes for the other partner," the researchers said.

Researchers say that the positive interactions during childhood leading to long-lasting relationships later on could be because people experiencing warmth and love during childhood may be more supportive of their spouses, or that these people are more likely to get into relationships with people who have a positive attitude and would provide the same family environment.

They added that the findings of this study are consistent with the Development of Early Adult Romantic Relationships (DEARR) model, showing that the kind of family climate experienced by a person during childhood and adolescence strongly influences his or her future relationships.

The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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