The mission of the Institute of Family Diversity and Communication (IFDC) is to conduct and share research that affirms, advocates for, and creates understanding of families formed through diverse pathways.

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Young Adults’ Identity Exploration: Privacy Management and Parent-Child Communication on Topics of Career, Religion and Politics

Research Associate Maria Butauski

Analyses of cross-sectional survey data of undergraduate students (N = 436) highlighted the role of identity exploration and commitment in young adults’ management of the parent-child privacy boundary across three areas central to ego identity development: career, religion, and politics. Young adults were most open in discussing their career. Those with more commitment to, and less exploration of, religious identities were more open in discussing religion, while those with higher levels of commitment and exploration of political identities were more open in discussing politics.

Communicated Meaning-Making in Foster Families: Relationships Between Foster Parents' Entrance Narratives and Foster Child Well-Being

Research Associate Leslie R. Nelson & Co-Director Dr. Haley K. Horstman

Guided by narrative theorizing, the present study analyzed the ways foster parents create and tell foster entrance narratives (FENs) to their foster child. Analysis of 101 foster parents’ FENs illuminated nine emergent themes – birth parent consequences, deep connection, special, untold, birth parent learning, temporary, pragmatic, forever, and better off. Analysis revealed significant relationships between FEN themes and foster parents’ perceptions of foster child adjustment and foster parent-child relational closeness.

Fostering "Family:" How Communication Sustains and Functions in Foster Families

Research Associate Leslie R. Nelson & Co-Director Dr. Colleen Colaner

Although foster families serve a critical role in society, little is known about the communicative dynamics connecting the foster care square (i.e., foster child, foster parent(s), biological parent(s), and social worker). Guided by Family Communication Patterns and communication theorizing, the present study investigated the relationship of current foster parents’ (n = 158) communication with his/her foster child on relational and child well-being.

Privacy, Disability, and Family: Re-Establishing Privacy Dynamics with Extended Family and Personal Network Members Post Child Diagnosis of Autism

Research Associates Alexie Hays and Maria Butauski

Using Communication Privacy Management Theory, this study uncovered how parents manage the private details of their child’s autism diagnosis, as well as whom their primary confidants are regarding this information.

“Talking Ourselves into Being: Communicated Sense-Making and Family Diversity” (Fall 2016). Department of Psychology Developmental Psychology Brownbag Lecture Series.

Co-Director Dr. Haley Horstman

“Family members make sense of their experiences through creating and telling stories and story-like devices, called communicated sense-making. This seminar will explore current research on the way family members communicate to make sense of their family structures and challenging experiences. This talk will address contexts of family diversity such as open adoptive families, couples struggling with miscarriage, and couples choosing alternative birthing methods (e.g., doulas). Implications for future narrative theorizing and family diversity research will be explored.”

Meeting next Friday (10/16), Registry is Being Created, and Recruitment for Research

Our Institute of Family Diversity and Communication social gathering this semester will be held October 16th from 4pm-5:30pm at the Roof at the Broadway Hotel. This will be a joint gathering with the Center for Family Policy and Research, which will provide even more chances to network with family researchers on campus. During this gathering we also want to talk to the group about our progress on the registry/database we are building this semester. In addition, new studies requesting participation are being posted under the "Research" section.

Dr. Colaner Gives Student Life Diversity Training Talk to Students

Dr. Colleen Warner Colaner, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Family Diversity and Communication, recently was asked to speak at a student life diversity training meeting. In her talk, Dr. Colaner discussed the state of the modern family and the mission of the institute. She notes that families in our society are now in a state of constant change, not just because families are defining themselves differently, but also because society is rapidly changing in ways that affect family relationships.