The role of childhood family experiences on close relationships and loneliness of Romanian youth

Csaba László Dégi, Babes-Bolyai University
Cristina Faludi, Babes-Bolyai University

Romantic attractiveness, sexual involvement and commitment to a steady relationship represent markers of development in adolescence for their centrality in the harmonious transition to adulthood aimed at procreation and transfer of well-being to the generations to come. The paper investigates the linkage between quality of relationships with parents - in terms of childhood attachment to mother and father, stressful childhood experiences and family ties - and romantic relationship and perceived loneliness in adolescence. Our analysis included 1259 high-school and university students, stemmed from a random sample of 3513 Romanian students who completed the first wave of the online self-administered Outcome of Adolescence Questionnaire in 2012-2013. Two logistic regression models were conducted, one for each dependent variable. Main results revealed that attachment to parents, stressful relationships in the parental house and family ties during childhood play a minor role in shaping the satisfaction of romantic relationships in adolescence. Only gender makes a difference, with males reporting less satisfaction within the current romantic relationship. The second model explored the factors predicting a low level of loneliness. We found that low attachment to parents and severe material deprivation in the family of origin reduce almost by half the chance to avoid loneliness. Our findings highlighted that a high level of stress in relationships with parents significantly increase the chance of relying more on the social network of friends. We also noticed that younger adolescents emphasize in a greater extent the role of support within the network of friends. Family ties did not predict any influence on either satisfaction in the romantic relationship or social loneliness. By repeating the multivariate analysis with statistical methods used in the psychology, we intend to capture a clearer picture of the contribution of childhood experiences on the quality of romantic dyads and of friendship networks in adolescence.

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Presented in Session 11: Gender, sexuality and reproductive health