Families and communities together: strength and resilience during early adolescence

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Families and communities together: strength and resilience during early adolescence

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Grounded in a bioecological understanding of human development, this study examined the contributions of internal family strengths and family-community connections to youth well-being during early adolescence. Using a diverse dataset of about 1,498 families with 10- to 15-year-olds, the study explored whether and how strengths within families (Internal Family Assets) and family interactions with community were associated with six indicators of youth well-being: self-regulation, social competencies, school engagement, health behaviors, personal responsibility, and caring. In addition, it examined the extent to which these factors contributed to resilience, ameliorating the potentially deleterious effects of stressful life events on youth well- being. The study found that: (1) the level of Internal Family Assets was a much stronger predictor of family-community connections than youth, family, or community covariates; (2) the extent of Formal and Informal Community Supports for Families was modestly associated with youth well-being after accounting for covariates and Internal Family Assets; (3) the interactions between Internal Family Assets and family-community connections suggest that some family-community connections bolster the effect of Internal Family Assets on social competencies and caring; and (4) youth who have experienced high levels of Stressful Life Events have greater odds of experiencing high levels of well-being if they experience higher levels of Internal Family Assets and family-community connections. The findings invite increased attention to the ways in which families are engaged in communities, with particular focus on the importance of strengthening informal supports and engaging families as contributors to community life.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2013. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Yvonne S. Gentzler. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 240 pages, appendices A-B.

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