Navigating family roles and relationships: system youth in the transition years

Bethany R. Lee, Andrea R. Cole, Michelle R. Munson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During young adulthood, many transitions occur in family relationships. This paper explores family roles for young adults in the transition years who have been in the custody of the child welfare system and have mood challenges. To capture the voices of this less studied subpopulation, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 44 young adults in a Midwestern state. Through coding interview transcripts, we identified how these young people defined family and issues they were navigating in family relationships. These young people were commonly resolving family history issues especially related to ambiguous and actual losses, as well as the legacy of this history in their present-day family relationships. Professionals who intervene with this population should be prepared to help young people as they navigate these family transitions and change the future by rewriting family narratives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-451
Number of pages10
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • ambiguous loss
  • family relationships
  • foster care
  • transition age youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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