School Psychology Forum

Family Structures, Family Relationship, and Children's Perceptions of Life Satisfaction

By Olivia Hayles, Lihua Xu & Oliver W. Edwards

General Issue, pp. 91–104

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ABSTRACT: Children’s family structures are increasingly diverse and changing, and family structure and stability have implications for child developmental outcomes. These increasing distinct structures include households where children reside with grandparents or foster parents. Gaps exist in the knowledge base regarding whether these children report differing degrees of family connectedness and life satisfaction (LS) compared with children residing with one or both parents. This study examines family structures and children’s perceptions regarding family connectedness and perceived LS using a nationally representative U.S. sample of 926 students in grades 7–10. Univariate analysis of variance and hierarchical multiple regression tests were conducted. The findings indicate children residing with both parents have significantly higher LS than children in foster care and children raised by grandparents (CRBG). The findings also reveal that the stronger the feelings of family connectedness, the higher the perceived LS. Perhaps the single most noteworthy finding of this research is that when family connectedness is strong, children with 1 parent have significantly higher perceptions of LS than children living in foster care and CRBG. Thus, this research suggests many children of single parents experience robust psychological well-being. Children in foster care and CRBG may benefit from focused prevention and intervention to enhance family connectedness and LS.