Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 3412–3424 | Cite as

Emerging Adults’ Relationship with Caregivers and their Romantic Attachment: Quality Communication Helps

  • Anna LuerssenEmail author
  • Jacob Shane
  • Mia Budescu
Original Paper



Caregivers play an influential role in their child’s romantic attachment representations in emerging adulthood. In the current research, we explored one possible mechanism underlying this connection, the quality of caregiver-child communication about romantic relationships as indexed by emerging adults’ perceptions of the frequency, comfortableness, and helpfulness of these conversations with their female caregiver.


Survey data from a sample of emerging adults enrolled in an American university were analyzed with structural equation modeling to evaluate this mediational prediction using causal steps and bootstrapping of indirect effects approaches.


A higher quality caregiver-child relationship (higher support, less strain) was associated with higher quality communication about romantic relationships, and this communication was associated with lower attachment anxiety (indirect effect from support: β = −0.085; 95% CI [−0.139, −0.036], p = 0.001; indirect from strain: β = 0.020; 95% CI [0.005, 0.040], p = 0.026) and attachment avoidance (indirect effect from support: β = −0.094; 95% CI [−0.151, −0.043], p = 0.001; indirect effect from strain: β = 0.022; 95% CI [0.006, 0.043], p = 0.021). Fit statistics and indirect effects for the hypothesized model were compared and found superior to a variety of alternative models.


The quality of emerging adults’ conversations with their female caregiver about romantic relationships mediated the relationship between caregiver-child relationship quality and romantic attachment representations. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of romantic relationships and romantic attachment and the connection between the caregiver-child relationship and these outcomes in emerging adulthood.


Emerging adults Communication Family relationships Romantic attachment Romantic relationships 


Author Contributions

A.L. made significant contributions to study design, assisted with data analyses, and wrote up the paper. J.S. made significant contributions to study design and execution, conducted the majority of the data analyses, and contributed to the writing and editing of the final manuscript. M.B. made significant contributions to study design and contributed to the writing and editing of the final manuscript. (Note that the initials are individual author initials, presented in the same order as in the authorship list on the Title Page).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

10826_2019_1523_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lehman CollegeCity University of New YorkBronxUSA
  2. 2.Brooklyn CollegeCity University of New YorkBrooklynUSA

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