Communication Processes that Predict Young Adults' Feelings of Being Caught and their Associations with Mental Health and Family Satisfaction
In this study, the degree to which young adults felt caught between their parents was tested as a mediator between marital conflict behaviors and young adults' mental health and family satisfaction. Participants included 1170 young adult children from first marriage and postdivorce families in four different states. Using structural equation modeling, the results revealed that parents' symbolic aggression, demand/withdraw patterns, and negative disclosures were positively associated with young adult children's feelings of being caught. Such feelings, in turn, were inversely associated with children's reports of family satisfaction and mental health. Although young adult children from divorced families witnessed, on average, more marital aggression, negative disclosures, and demand/withdraw patterns than those from nondivorced families, the associations in the model were relatively comparable across both family types. Further, tests of mediation revealed that feeling caught served primarily as a partial mediator for family satisfaction and as a full mediator for mental health, though such feelings suppressed the positive effect of parental disclosures on family satisfaction for children in nondivorced families. Finally, children's closeness with both parents moderated the associations in the model.