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Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family

Communication, Identity, and Difference


Edited By Jordan Soliz and Colleen Warner Colaner

Despite growing recognition of the diversity of family forms and structures, discourses among family scholars and practitioners as well as in popular culture continue to operate from the assumption that families are fairly homogeneous in terms of the values and beliefs, social positions, and identities of individual family members. Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family provides a unique and important perspective on how communication within and about families related to issues of identity and difference can ameliorate negative processes and, at times, potentially amplify positive outcomes such as well-being and relational solidarity. Chapters in this edited volume focus on divergent social identities in the family (e.g., interfaith families, multiethnic-racial families, acculturation and immigration) as well as differences emerging from family formative processes (e.g., stepfamilies, in-law relationships, foster care). In addition to synthesizing the current state of the scholarship in these particular family contexts, each chapter discusses the interplay between families and the larger social and cultural context. For instance, how does grandparent-grandchild communication influence attitudes toward older adults and aging? Can we improve interfaith dialogue in larger societal interactions by understanding communication in interfaith families? How do ideologies of social class and social discourses about adoption and foster care influence family functioning? Chapters conclude with a discussion on implications for scholars and family practitioners. The edited volume would make an ideal primary or secondary required text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses on families as well as specialized family courses on understudied family relationships and forms. The volume also serves as an important resource for family scholars and practitioners.

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3. Navigating Interfaith Family Communication: Research Trends and Applied Implications (Stella Ting-Toomey and Laura V. Martinez)


3. Navigating Interfaith Family Communication: Research Trends and Applied Implications

Stella Ting-Toomey and Laura V. Martinez

The religious marital landscape of the United States is rapidly changing. Interfaith marriages (i.e., marriages in which partners are affiliated with different religious belief systems), while once historically considered unorthodox, are now becoming more acceptable. A Pew Research Center Religious Landscape study (Murphy, 2015) indicates that while same-faith marriages are still the majority in the U.S. society, interfaith marital relationships are becoming more common, especially among young adults. The same Religious Landscape study reports that since 2010, almost 40% of U.S. Americans are married to someone with a different religious affiliation. Those numbers only increase concerning unmarried cohabiting couples, with 49% of these reporting an interfaith relationship.

Indeed, there is tremendous variability between religious groups to account for when considering the growing trend and acceptance of interfaith unions. The concept of religious homogamy (i.e., sharing the same religious denomination and same religiousness and practices) versus religious heterogamy (i.e., religious dissimilarity and different religious beliefs and practices) may help to understand the types and degrees of challenges that face an interfaith intimate couple. For example, according to Kim and Swan (2019), while religious homogamy contributes to relationship adjustment and satisfaction, religious heterogamy contributes to marital conflicts and spill over to a child well-being and stability. However, parents’ active engagement with the child can act as a moderating variable between religious heterogamy and child well-being. The wider the religious heterogamous...

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