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Coursework on Sociology: Family Formation and Romantic Relationships in Emerging Adulthood

7 pages
1825 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Course work
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The study aimed at assessing family formation and romantic relationships in emerging adulthood since a significant number of them have failed to engage in relationships and start families. The main objective is to assess the changes that have occurred. The second part of the study reviews existing literature on the topic and digs into some findings linked to the topic. The third section of the study has highlighted on the methodology whereby the participant in the study was between the ages of 18 to 25 and was interrogated about their romantic relationship and whether they had the same romantic partner or if they changed in the course of their lives. The final part of the study discusses some of the findings and relates these to the existing literature.

Keywords: Family Formations, Romantic Relationships, Adulthood, Young Adults


There exist various models that have been supported by empirical research which have formulated and showed how family formations and romantic relationships have unfolded over time. At adulthood, a significant number of relationships becomes steady, exclusive and also acquires a high level of intimacy and a high sense of commitment between players. Nevertheless, despite the increased sense of engagement among partners in adulthood, there exists substantial evidence that indicates that the inclusion or association of those in the romantic relationship with the western culture tends to affect the trend (Gala and Kapadia 2013). Recent studies reveal that there has been a change in demographics as people become less committed and engaged to their partners. At the same time, lives of many people are constantly derailed by relationship instabilities and issues, causing them to move between committed relationships and soar romantic relationships. There is a gap in what used to happen between the end of adolescence and the start of a committed relationship and the formation of families. Studies in this area have failed to document on the development meanings and reasons behind the different natures under which families and romantic relationships are formed. This shows a drastic change in how the youth perceive the concept of relationship and family formation.

This paper seeks to assess the household structures as well as relationships in emerging adulthood. This is expected to allow scholars in sociology understand the development progression that the youth pass through and how their experiences contribute to their commitment to a romantic relationship and ultimately lead to marriage (formation of a family). At the same time, the proposal discusses various challenges that the youth face through their transition to a long-term relationship. The topic has triggered debate on whether young adults can build a family, engage and maintain intimate relationships and even good family ties. The youths as they emerge into adulthood gain new responsibilities and can coordinate themselves in a way that they can keep a family as well as a romantic relationship. Although some can assume the adult roles quickly, others take time to adapt to the adult life, duties and responsibilities entirely.

Research question

To assess changes that have occurred in the family formation and romantic relationships in emerging adulthood.


Sexual and romantic interest among the youth is central to the growth and development of the adolescent. After they reach maturation, they begin experiencing sexual cravings and often tend to fantasize on emotional union with their partners, and thus have a significant influence on how they engage in their relationships. To regulate this, there is a need for the youth to be aware of these issues and learn how to express their feeling acceptably. At the same time, this vice has led to the emergence of a new life known as early young adults. This is due to the fact that those involved in romantic relationships are no longer adolescents and are not ready to take over the full responsibilities that are associated with adulthood (Shulman and Connolly 2013). For this reason, many young adults are caught between learning advanced job skills and depending on the families to support them in the transition. The features of this stage resemble the coming of age in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the youths lingered in the state of semi-autonomy, just waiting until they are well of to marry, have their children and establish an independent household for themselves. However, there exist substantial differences in the manner which young adult today perceive family as well as how they embrace adulthood. This stage (young adults) is not just a mere extension of adolescence as shown in the mass media. Some of them are not mature and may even lack impressive intellectual, psychological and social skills(Wight, Chau, Aratani, Schwarz and Thampi 2010). Ideally, young people have accepted adult responsibilities before engaging in building up their education credentials as well as various practical competencies in the current demanding labor market.

Research shows that in the previous years when the youth were initiated into adulthood, they were equipped and were able to make sound decisions that affected their lives (Wright 2012). This is contrary to the contemporary society whereby those between the ages of eighteen to twenty-four are still unable to take various responsibilities as adults. Some of them are still in their childhood bedroom, are jobless and cannot start their families. In the early years also, youth between the ages mentioned were able to take up adult roles, start families and have children. Despite these significant differences among the contemporary youth and those of the previous years, parents remain influential in the development of their children into responsible parents (Settersten and Ray 2010). They have failed to shape their children into becoming responsible citizens and lead them to safer paths towards starting and nurturing good families.

In the process of transition through romantic relationship and family formation, there are different groups of youths. There is a group that takes time to migrate to adulthood but are cautious and often calculates their ways, gaining the quality education, and building successful careers before engaging in romantic relationships and settling for marriage. Another group which is the largest and worrying involves those who tread water rather than swimming and engage into relationship and family matters before creating a sustainable financial foundation. With this group, they skip some of the essential stages of the life cycle and find themselves wallowing in poverty (Settersten and Ray 2010). This is the most adopted model by the current youth and has made it hard for them to be successful in their lives, their relationships, and marriages.

Still, on creating a lasting foundation for their families, there is a misconception that the current youth lacks work ethic and often aspire or want to grow up the ladder in their hierarchy of needs without working hard. The society as it is, has transformed and brains have significantly developed, but the youth are leery of promising the future to a single employer. Young people keep on changing their jobs in search of better payment which is not a guarantee of success. At the same time, education level has become the main determinant for destinies and is essential for building a successful family as well as sustaining any romantic relationship (Peters 2012). Lack of quality education among these youth has resulted to financial insecurity among them and is unable to adopt families.

Due to media obsession among the youth, researchers embarked on a mission to investigate adolescence and youth hookup systems. The study focused on their sexual practices overtime to counter claims that hookup represents a sudden and alarming change in the youth sexual culture typically. The findings of the research indicated that the hookup concept has a significant influence on the social life of women. Nevertheless, their connection experiences varied and were not uniformly negative and monogamous, and the long-term relationship was also not an ideal alternative for them (Hull, Meier and Ortyl 2010). Engaging in bad hookup proved to be lethal as some of them were isolated and caused havoc among young women.

Various theories of romantic stage development indicate that youth in the era of emerging adulthood were capable of committing to the intimate romantic relationship, but recent studies indicate that relationship of many young people are entirely different. There have been delays in marriages and other natures of deep commitment which are usually delayed as others engage in short-term casual arrangement or even in a noncommittal relationship which last for a short time. The result poses a challenge to stage theories that can be designed through the consideration of the developmental life role and tasks that emerging adults can simultaneously resolve. As a result, scholars have proposed emerging transitional adult romantic stages that involve coordinated romance, and life plans to allow the youth strive and integrate their different career paths and life plans with those of a romantic partner (Furstenberg et al. 2004). The findings of the research have further been within the perspectives of the life cycle as well as through the evolutionary life history theories.

Young adults have been cohabiting, but studies consider the various roles of the social context in the formulation and coming up of their view towards the same. There exist a study that was conducted on forty semi-structured interviews among different dating partners which explored the specific roles played by romantic partners, family as well as their peers on the evaluation of their cohabiting behaviors. Among couples where every member has a varied view regarding coexistence, one romantic partner desired not to live together, and this affected their partners uncertain feeling concerning the same. The influence their individual families had in the process of cohabitation was evident and clearer through various mechanisms that incorporated parental advice, religious values and ethos, social modeling and economic control. At the same time, peers were also seen to have a significant role, with different couples using the mediated trials of their fellow peer networks to assess how cohabitation affected their romantic relationship (Furstenberg et al. 2004). Through the use of a pair of perspective and assessing report from both members of every couple, this study indicated how the specific cultural and personal views on cohabitation are formed.

A significant portion of young adults often engages in varying romantic relationship of varying commitment levels in their teens as well as when they reach their twenties. There also exist numerous studies that have assessed whether a single relationship behavior and stay over is linked to the demographic characteristics, their earlier experiences in a romantic relationship, personal beliefs, and attitudes. A sample of the young adults was surveyed in relation to their experiences that included staying overnight with their partners, their ultimate reasons for cohabiting and the attitudes about the issues of full-time cohabitation. Participants in the study were slightly older and had cohabited at some point in their lives (Fincham and Cui 2010). These participants did not value their religious teachings on the context and had a positive attitude about cohabiting and were found to be more likely engage in a romantic relationship with their par...

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