Parents views on dating
The average age for both male and females was 24 years old. Twenty percent of the sample identified as black, These percentages approximate the population of the city of Toledo where In terms of education, female respondents were more highly educated than their male counterparts. Interestingly, on average females reported having been in their current relationship for two months longer than their male partners.
On average, the interviews lasted roughly an hour and the average length of the interviews was about 54 single-spaced transcribed pages. On average, the interviews lasted roughly an hour and the average length of the interviews was about 60 single-spaced transcribed pages the interviews ranged from 20 to pages with a 25 page standard deviation.
The semi-structured interview techniques used in the in-depth interviews provided the same basic questions to each respondent, but allowed the interviewer to pursue varied lines of inquiry and probe for more information. The program assists with coding and analyses of qualitative data, as well as provides tools to manage, store, extract, compare, explore, and reassemble meaningful pieces of data flexibly and systematically Weitzman, A key part of our analyses was the development of our coding scheme, which was both intensive and interactive.
A coding scheme categorizes segments of data with a short name that simultaneously summarizes and accounts for each piece of data Charmaz, Thus, our coding scheme was the central basis of our analysis of the qualitative interviews. Depending on the interview, an entire paragraph or just one sentence could have one or several codes, thus codes could overlap with one another. Each author read a subset of transcripts and coded them independently with this pre-established list of categories.
We then assessed how well the coding scheme captured the questions of interest and revised the coding scheme based on responses from the in-depth interviews. Charmaz defines this phase in the coding process as focused coding and it was the second phase in our coding process where we refined our list to only include codes that were more directed and selective of dating couples than our first attempt at a code list.
After re-reading the interviews with this focused coding scheme in mind, we then examined intercoder reliability by discussing and comparing the interviews we coded individually. Although we had few interpretive disagreements, we explored and discussed the meaning of minor discrepancies in our interpretations, eventually generating a coding scheme capturing our consensus on the issues.
Our analyses involved searching for responses to queries about how couples felt family and peers influenced their dating relationship, as well as their views of cohabitation. For example, couples were asked what family and peers thought of their relationship, whether and in what ways their family pressured them to marry, and the types of emotional or financial support from family or peers. We conceptualized peers as same-age others who are friends, co-workers, or family members, such as cousins or siblings, because many respondents claimed that their family members were their friends.
Family was contextualized as older family members such as grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles. We provided representative quotations to illustrate each theme. The reported role of the romantic partner was included in each section as the views of both members of the couple were presented. Respondents were influenced by their family through the following four ways: For example, Sylvia, a year-old woman, who had been dating Sebastian, her year-old boyfriend for about a year and a half, believed that cohabitation was not an adequate substitution for marriage and has discussed how she feels about cohabiting with Sebastian.
And you can live with a person all you want to without ever making a big commitment like that—like, to vow to love each other forever and just doing it the right way. So, the best way to do it is to get married. He wanted to marry one day. You probably just want to live with yourself. And then they argue, but then they make up. Allan was 27 years old and had been dating his girlfriend Anne, who was 30, for almost a year.
So, cohabitation is a good way to really get to know someone. Anne had cohabited with three men prior to dating Allan and was worried that her negative experiences may affect her future cohabitation plans. Maybe I read into it too much. Tammy was 19 years old and had been dating year-old Tyler for about nine months. The couple lived together temporarily during the summer before the interview.
Tyler confirmed that his mother is disapproving about cohabitation.
Know Your Dating Ideals
Both Tammy and Tyler felt that cohabitation was a big commitment that may happen for them sometime in their distant future, but for now, they prefer to only cohabit for a short while and out of necessity. Patricia, who was 29, had been dating year-old Peter for almost a year and has reservations about cohabitation. Patricia was raised in a Christian family who taught her that cohabitation and sex before marriage was wrong.
Thus, the influence of religion may be complex and even though parents hold strong religious beliefs that do not support cohabitation, emerging adults sometimes decide to make their own decisions. Parental divorce seems to be related to respondents concerns about divorce.
Out of the 20 dating couples, only two couples were both raised by their biological parents. Kevin was 29 years old and had been dating year-old Kelly for over three years. We interviewed the couple shortly after Kevin asked Kelly to move out of their apartment; however, the couple did not break up, and continued to date.
But on the other hand, the institution of marriage leaves a very, very sour taste in my mouth. Marriage and children are the two issues that I have got very negative associations with. He also cited the influence of his peer networks on why part of him does not want to marry. Yet according to Kelly, neither parent feels divorce is an option in their relationship. I truly think that. Since Kelly did not see divorce as implicitly negative and is sure about her feelings for Kevin, she viewed her cohabitation with him as a step toward eventual marriage.
Indeed, most daters who experienced a childhood divorce wanted to marry and do everything in their power to create happy and long-lasting marriages. That was their decision. Like, I think that helped me a lot. Like, actually their failure of marriage is probably gonna help me to maintain my marriage.
But, we [Nick and I] pretty much live like a married couple, you know. Like, we have, we share everything. Only four respondents mentioned that their parents had cohabited, thus parental cohabitation was a relatively uncommon occurrence for this dating sample. Wynona was a year-old woman whose parents divorced when she was a child. And he moved out not too long ago—about eight years.
The Role of Romantic Partners, Family and Peer Networks in Dating Couples’ Views about Cohabitation
Well, I guess it is a while ago, about eight years ago. And, umm, I mean I loved him too. Olivia reports that when she was 16, her mother cohabited with her stepfather for a short time before the couple married. And I always thought she would look down upon something like that [cohabitation]. And so when she did that, it really pissed me off. Olivia asserted that she did not realize cohabitation was an option in her own life until her mother lived with her stepfather before marriage. Parental divorce, not cohabitation, seems to be the poignant family transition.
Some respondents were raised in religious households, thus their religious beliefs have been passed down to them from their parents. These respondents had internalized these religious beliefs and as a result, did not feel cohabitation would have a positive affect on their dating relationships. I believe in marriage as being an institution, as what you should do. Umm, and I know her parents are religious.
My parents are somewhat religious. So, umm, just to keep things kosher is seems like a good idea just with our parents. Although it was not commonly stated, parental instrumental support can effect whether or not cohabitation is a viable option for a couple and their evaluation of cohabitation. Lukas and Linda were both 20 years old and had dated for over three years. So, if she goes against them, they might say, well we're not paying for schooling.
And then she's stuck paying for it. In sum, respondents reported that their familial networks influenced their attitudes toward cohabitation. We found that familial influence occurred through direct communication, social modeling, family religious beliefs, and parental economic support. The experience of a parental divorce appears to be quite consequential in relationship decisions in emerging adulthood.
Thus, family socialization extends into emerging adulthood but is quite complex. Dating couples often described a connection between the cohabitation experiences of friends and same-age family members and their own assessments of cohabitation. For example, Randy was 22 years old and had been dating year-old Robin for almost seven months. You know what I mean? I want to have my own place and all my own stuff. Dating couples were more apt to remember and describe the negative experiences their peers had with cohabitation, such as relationships that ended in divorce, break-up, or were plagued by constant conflict.
It was these experiences that they often cited as a reason to not cohabit. Indeed, out of the 40 percent of respondents ten men and six women who knew friends or same-age family members who were currently or previously in cohabiting relationships that they described positively i. While some couples shared similar views of cohabitation, there was not always concordance in their assessments of cohabitation. For example, Fiona 19 years old and Frank 22 years old witnessed their friends enter cohabiting relationships and generally agreed that there are negative consequences connected to cohabitation.
Fiona and Frank had been dating for roughly two years. Both Fiona and Frank knew people in bad cohabiting relationships and drew from those experiences to illuminate their current cohabitation decisions. I try and make the best out of it so we stay together. I try to get along with him, stuff like that. While Fiona and Frank agreed that cohabitation had rarely produced happy couples within their peer networks, Mandy and Mark had differing experiences and opinions regarding the people they knew who had cohabited. Mandy was 20 years old and had been dating year-old Mark for almost four months.
She attributed her negative view of cohabitation to the negative experiences of the cohabitors she has known. Mandy asserted that she would only cohabit once she was married. It just seemed like it hurt their relationship and I would never do it. Like Mandy, who would only cohabit once she was married, Mark expressed a desire for commitment from his partner before cohabiting again. When Mark was asked if he would cohabit with Mandy, he replied,.
Some respondents, especially those who have not experienced cohabitation themselves, feared what cohabitation will be like and how their partner will react to such a living situation. These respondents were especially reliant on the experiences of the people in their peer networks who help them form opinions about cohabitation. Wynona recalled the experience of her best friend who was living with her boyfriend. But they got tired of each other. She would go to work and go to school, and then just come back to seeing him.
And they fight all the time now. I mean, but they love each other. William very much wanted to live with Wynona and his only prerequisite to doing so was his desire to find a job before renting an apartment. Some daters responded to negative peer influences with more optimism and form opinions about the conditions under which cohabitation will work. Helen 22 years old and Harry 20 years old , who had been dating for almost nine months, both agree that the duration of their current relationship was a major factor in their eventual cohabitation plans.
Helen reported that she had a friend who was cohabiting and pregnant. Helen felt that if her friend had waited and not rushed the relationship, perhaps things could have been different in her life. I mean, it could. Nineteen-year-old Wynona was an example of a dater who looked at the people in her peer networks, saw her friends divorcing, and wanted to take steps to ensure that her relationship with William would not end with a similar outcome.
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To Wynona, cohabitation, if done in the proper context as a precursor for marriage , can be an effective step in preventing divorce. However, when she was asked if knowing divorced couples had affected her, she responded,. I want to live with him [William] before I even get there [marriage].
I want to live with him and be together for a while—which we have. I have known him for a long time or whatever. When I get married I want it to happen one time, once. I just want to do it one time.
Similarly, year-old Kevin would never marry someone without cohabiting first. However, it was very important for him to test his compatibility with his partner before marriage. In an attempt to illustrate his point, he cited the marital relationship of a friend:. That was the only way they could consummate, you know, get the rocks off.
As discussed above, Kevin knew few happily married couples and his views of cohabitation were based in part on the negative experiences of his peer and family networks. In sum, emerging adult daters reported using the vicarious trial of their peer networks to gauge whether cohabitation would be a good idea for their relationship. However, observing negative peer experiences with cohabitation did not always result in negative attitudes toward cohabitation. The response to peer divorce was not uniform, a number of respondents saw cohabitation as a way to divorce-proof their marriage while others became more wary of cohabitation because of divorce.
This study elaborated on how support for cohabitation emerges and suggests how attitudes may spread. While some respondents adopted the attitudes of their social networks wholesale, others exerted agency and formed attitudes in opposition to those of their romantic partners, family and peers. More importantly, this work introduced the complexity of responses by showcasing how emerging adults responded and interpreted the experiences of their social networks. This study illustrated the importance of the couple perspective by examining reports of both members of a dating relationship.
The small number of reports suggested there were selection processes operating where similarly minded respondents and partners chose one another as a boyfriend or girlfriend. In other words, respondents reported that they may not cohabit with this partner, although they would cohabit with someone else. Even when couples shared similar views, the reasons and sources of their views varied i.
Parents: 4 Dating Basics For Our Sons and Daughters
Finally, our findings show that partner influence stemmed, not only from their role in the current relationship, but also from partners bringing their own biographies and experiences into the relationship. These findings support further couple-based data collections to build our understanding of cohabitation and marriage in the United States. Religious socialization was closely linked to family influence in two ways. First, some emerging adults adopted the religious beliefs of their family and had a negative perception of cohabitation.
Research on dating in emerging adult warrants further attention as these are the relationships in which current and past family experiences are framed and may potentially progress to cohabitation. A widely stated source of social network influence was peers. Respondents appeared to use the vicarious trials of their peer networks to judge whether cohabitation would help or hurt their own relationship. Couples felt that their dating relationships or situation differed from that of their peers because they planned to enter cohabitation after a long period of courtship or because they planned to marry.
Thus, these dating couples thought that their cohabitations would result in a happy and stable marital union. By not repeating the perceived mistakes of their peer networks i. A pervasive theme throughout the study was a concern about divorce, and we observed it operating specifically through both family and peer socialization. These anxieties prevented some emerging adult daters from seeing marriage and family in a positive light.
Instead of viewing marital commitment as stable and secure happiness, some respondents viewed it as being trapped in an unhappy union, or worse, being happily married for a short time before an inevitable divorce. These respondents entered the courtship process filled with trepidation. Cohabitation can be a way to assuage these fears, at least for a short time. They were positively disposed toward cohabitation as a way to practice or prepare for marriage. While the influence of the parental divorce was linked to some deep-seeded fears, the influence of peer divorce simply reinforced the negative views some daters already had about divorce.
Peer divorce seemed to lead daters to ask themselves, what can I do differently from my peers? Some daters saw a positive correlation between cohabitation and divorce in their peer networks, while others maintained that cohabitation was a practical way to protect against divorce. It is important to recognize the limitations of this study. Despite this limitation, reports of the influence of social networks rose organically from the in-depth interviews themselves. In other words, it was the respondents who brought up the connection between their romantic partners, family and peers and their views of cohabitation.
Third, the sample may be biased because couples with extremely negative relationship dynamics could have been reluctant to participate. However, a number of dating couples discussed very distressing aspects of their union, including infidelity concerns and doubts regarding the future of their relationship, so it is unlikely that this limitation seriously biased the results.
In addition, since all the respondents were dating at the time of the interview, the sample may have been selective toward emerging adults with less relationship experience or more conservative attitudes about romantic involvement. Nevertheless, respondents reported a wide spectrum of sexual and relationship experiences, so this limitation most likely did not seriously bias our findings. Fourth, respondents and their partners were interviewed separately, thus it was not uncommon for respondents and their partners to contradict each other. Although interviewing couples together may have ensured fewer inconsistencies, it most likely would have inhibited respondents and their partners from fully revealing their perspective in the relationship.
Our work addressed the need to extend social learning theory by recognizing that emerging adults were not totally passive when embedded within their social networks. Consistent with Arnett our findings revealed that emerging adult daters were trying to work out their childhood family experiences and appeared to remain wary about their own relationship futures.
These dating couples interpreted and formed meaning through their interactions with their romantic partners, family, and peers. Thus, we found that individual-based theories and methods may be limited when examining relationship decision-making and transitions. Prior work has theorized how social context fits into attitude formation, but empirical work in the United States seldom includes social context. Our findings, along with quantitative studies on social context in other countries Rindfuss et al. This qualitative analysis identifies and describes the role that social context plays in attitude formation about cohabitation, but we hope this paper leads to future quantitative work on emerging adults dating relationships, those closest to forming cohabiting unions, to help move our understanding of union formation forward.
We thank Gayra Ostgaard for her research assistance and Claudia Vercellotti for her dedication and outstanding interview skills. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Author manuscript; available in PMC Oct Manning , Jessica A. Cohen , and Pamela J. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract Emerging adults are increasingly cohabiting, but few studies have considered the role of social context in the formation of their views of cohabitation. Conceptual Framework Our conceptual framework combined social learning theory with a developmental perspective.
Peers Networks While past research has recognized the importance of peer socialization in forming attitudes about and behaviors toward the opposite sex in adolescence e. Open in a separate window. In an attempt to illustrate his point, he cited the marital relationship of a friend: Explaining the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family.
Code of the street: Decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. The winding road from late teens through the twenties. Oxford University Press; Socialization in emerging adulthood: From the family to the wider world, from socialization to self-socialization. Grusec J, Hastings P, editors. The Guilford Press; Axinn WG, Thornton A. For most Christian dads and moms out there, our own dating experiences had little roots to any biblical truth. Where did we go wrong?
The problem goes far beyond dating. It is quite apparent that our American culture no longer looks to the Bible to establish its moral foundations. Peter Marshall was correct in his U. Senate prayer when he said, " As a result, our young people of today embrace a worldview that is more secular than biblical and more me-centered than God-centered. Yet, as parents, we can help our children get back on a God-honoring path when it comes to dating.
It has and continues to be a two-way conversation around what it means for God to be glorified in and through our lives as we become less and Christ becomes more, i. As parents, we need to re-position dating back on a pathway that anchors our teens and adult children to God's ways. Just as in marriage, dating or courtship needs to be about God's glory and building each other up in Christ. To consider it any less, is setting up a slippery slope where both emotional and physical ties naturally take hold. Men and women were created for intimacy with one another. Time will never erase this reality.
If a man and woman spend time together in close proximity and share their inner-most feelings, things will happen. Even couples with the best-intentions have faltered when boundaries aren't in place. Fail to plan; plan to fail. This may sound like "old school" or something our great grandfathers did. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to love and romance nothing really has changed from one generation to the next.
Biologically, our bodies were made to have intimate and sexual relations with the opposite sex. Sure, times have changed and people have changed with them. Yet, if we really believe in the "unchanging" truth found in God's Word that speaks to the sanctity of marriage and the need for sexual purity, we will find ourselves turning some pages back in our history dating books to learn from our great grandparents. I'm speaking to myself and to the men out there. We need to step it up and get back to some biblical basics when it comes to loving our wives and our children.
We need to set the example for our teenage sons and daughters. Our younger men need to uphold our daughters as precious sisters in Christ and protect their pureness. They need to know that real love is not about pleasing yourself. It's all about pleasing God and putting another person's interest before your own. The same goes for our daughters. If we pursue our relationships God's ways, His glory and honor will follow. Like most Christian dads out there, my highest priority prayer for my kids has been that they come to know Jesus as their Savior.
Not too far behind this prayer is a request for an equally-yoked spouse contingent upon that marriage is within God's will for their lives. To have Christ means everything. My prayer as a father is that my children, whether on the path toward singleness or marriage, will pursue God's ways when it comes to building relationships. Here's the RSS extension. The Voices of the Family Blogs. Season Your Words with Grace. Dealing with Betrayal and Abandonment.
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