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Communication and shared family identity in mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships: Implications for relational outcomes and future family functioning

Christine E Rittenour, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

In this study of daughters-in-law’s (N = 622) perceptions of their relationships with mothers-in-law, I take an intergroup approach in presenting shared family identity as integral to successful family functioning. In this way, I assert that daughters-in-law who feel a greater sense of shared family identity with their mothers-in-law will not only have satisfying relationships, but will also intend to maintain a positive, giving relationship in the future. Through structural equation modeling, shared family identity and relational satisfaction were examined as potential mediators between predictor variables of family/cultural influence and outcome variables of daughter-in-law intentions regarding future in-law behaviors. Results indicate that both shared family identity and relational satisfaction are positively associated with all assessed outcomes of daughter-in-law intentions toward the following: instrumental caregiving for the mother-in-law, emotional caregiving for the mother-in-law, maintenance of the grandparent/grandchild bond, and awarding the mother-in-law custodial grandparenting rights. In addition, mother-in-law communication, the spouse’s influence via his encouragement of a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law bond and his perceived relational satisfaction with his mother, spousal loyalties to the daughter-in-law instead of the mother-in-law, and cultural orientations toward family all play a role in daughter-in-law evaluation or categorization of this relationship. Taken together, these results suggest the communicative and relational factors that influence mother-in-law/daughter-in-law functioning while demonstrating the importance of shared family identity and relational satisfaction in maintaining a harmonious and giving in-law relationship over time. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings at the familial, scholarly, and public policy level.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Rittenour, Christine E, "Communication and shared family identity in mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships: Implications for relational outcomes and future family functioning" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3350455.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3350455

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