Family Management Practices and Positive Youth Development in Stepfamilies and Single-Mother Families

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To determine how engagement in family management practices (i.e., parent–youth closeness, knowledge of youth's friends, shared family meals, and media monitoring) is associated with positive developmental outcomes for youth living in diverse family structures.


As patterns of unmarried childbearing, cohabitation, divorce, and remarriage have changed in the United States, youth increasingly live in diverse family structures. Limited research, however, addresses positive youth development in these families. Specific family tasks and caregiver constellations in the home may mean that youth in different family structures benefit differently from family management practices.


Using data from 9,131 households with a 12- to 17-year-old child in the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children's Health, structural equation modeling was used to test whether four family management practices were associated with two positive youth developmental outcomes (flourishing and extracurricular activity participation). Multigroup analyses tested for differences in the associations across family structures.


Family management practices were generally positively associated with positive youth development. The strength of associations between specific family management practices and positive youth developmental outcomes, however, varied across family structures, suggesting that practices may have differing effectiveness depending on family context.


Understanding mechanisms that promote positive youth developmental outcomes in diverse family structures and how mechanisms may function differently across family contexts can broaden the sophistication of family theories and interventions.


This article was originally published as Beckmeyer, J. J., Su-Russell, C., & Russell, L. T. (2020). Family management practices and positive youth development in stepfamilies and single-mother families. Family Relations, 69, 92-108. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12412