Beyond quality: Parental and residential stability and children's adjustment

Emma K. Adam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


In identifying environmental factors affecting children's development, researchers have typically focused on the quality of children's home or family environments. Less attention has been paid to environmental stability as a factor influencing children's well-being. This is partially due to outdated notions of children's living arrangements and to the fact that children in the least stable environments are often the hardest to involve and retain in research. Recent research suggests that there are associations between the degree of environmental instability and difficulties in adjustment, such that children exposed to higher levels of family instability (e.g., more frequent separations from parent figures and more frequent residential moves) show worse adjustment across a variety of developmental domains. Although there is still uncertainty regarding the causal direction of these associations (does instability cause children's problems or do the problems cause instability?), the sources and consequences of family instability clearly deserve greater attention in future research on child and adolescent adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-213
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Adjustment
  • Parental separation
  • Residential mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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