Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 878–890 | Cite as

The Contribution of Community and Family Contexts to African American Young Adults’ Romantic Relationship Health: A Prospective Analysis

  • Steven M. Kogan
  • Man-Kit Lei
  • Christina R. Grange
  • Ronald L. Simons
  • Gene H. Brody
  • Frederick X. Gibbons
  • Yi-fu Chen
Empirical Research


Accumulating evidence suggests that African American men and women experience unique challenges in developing and maintaining stable, satisfying romantic relationships. Extant studies have linked relationship quality among African American couples to contemporaneous risk factors such as economic hardship and racial discrimination. Little research, however, has examined the contextual and intrapersonal processes in late childhood and adolescence that influence romantic relationship health among African American adults. We investigated competence-promoting parenting practices and exposure to community-related stressors in late childhood, and negative relational schemas in adolescence, as predictors of young adult romantic relationship health. Participants were 318 African American young adults (59.4 % female) who had provided data at four time points from ages 10–22 years. Structural equation modeling indicated that exposure to community-related stressors and low levels of competence-promoting parenting contributed to negative relational schemas, which were proximal predictors of young adult relationship health. Relational schemas mediated the associations of competence-promoting parenting practices and exposure to community stressors in late childhood with romantic relationship health during young adulthood. Results suggest that enhancing caregiving practices, limiting youths’ exposure to community stressors, and modifying relational schemas are important processes to be targeted for interventions designed to enhance African American adults’ romantic relationships.


African American Community stress Family Romantic relationship Schema Young adult 



This research was supported by Award R01MH062669 from the National Institute of Mental Health, Award R01DA21898 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Award R01HD030588 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, or the National Institutes of Health.

Author Contributions

SK conceived of the study, led design and analysis, and drafted the manuscript. YC conducted data analyses. CG participated in the design of the study, data analysis, and drafting of the manuscript. MKL performed statistical analyses and participated in drafting the manuscript. RS, GB, and FG participated in data acquisition and made substantive contributions to the manuscript regarding interpretation of findings and significance of the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven M. Kogan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Man-Kit Lei
    • 1
  • Christina R. Grange
    • 1
  • Ronald L. Simons
    • 3
  • Gene H. Brody
    • 1
  • Frederick X. Gibbons
    • 4
  • Yi-fu Chen
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Family ResearchUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychology and Center for Health, Intervention, and PreventionUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  5. 5.Department of SociologyNational Taipei UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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