Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 10–19 | Cite as

Family Structure and Child Adjustment in Spain

  • Alfredo OlivaEmail author
  • Enrique Arranz
  • Agueda Parra
  • Fernando Olabarrieta
Original Paper


This paper presents the results of a study carried out in Spain with 214 families with children aged between 3 and 10, comparing the quality of family context and the internal and external adjustment of children living in six different types of family structure: traditional, single-parent, stepfamilies, adoptive, same-sex parent and multiple-birth. Members of the research team interviewed the families in their homes and administered the assessment instruments (Development History, HOME inventory, Parenting Stress Index and Behavior Assessment System for Children). The results indicate that although some significant differences were observed between families (children living in same-sex parent families scored higher for internal and external adjustment, and those from stepfamilies scored lowest in these same measures), these differences disappeared when the effects of sociodemographic and contextual variables were statistically controlled in a covariance analysis. It can therefore be concluded that it was not family structure itself that was related to children’s adjustment, but rather the sociodemographic and contextual variables associated with it. Thus, all the family structures analysed in the study are capable of promoting positive child development and adjustment, providing they meet the necessary conditions, such as good-quality care and a stimulating environment free from conflict and stress.


Family diversity Development contexts Internalising problems Externalising problems 



This study was supported by the BBVA Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfredo Oliva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Enrique Arranz
    • 2
  • Agueda Parra
    • 1
  • Fernando Olabarrieta
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Educational PsychologyUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain
  2. 2.Department of Basic Psychological Processes and DevelopmentUniversity of the Basque CountrySan SebastiánSpain

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