CURRENT RESEARCH: Changing ways of making and 'doing' family

My research is primarily focused on the interplay between two societal trends, which have substantial consequences for how we construct families, who does what within families, and how we are impacted by family-related transitions. Firstly, we have observed a profound shift in demographic behaviors such as increasing intimate partnership instability (which means the proportion of children who do not grow up with their two biological parents but with a biological parent and a stepparent is increasing) and dropping fertility rates. At the same time, we have seen not-so-profound shifts in cultural gender scripts. Though some countries have seen a decline in gender-role traditionalism, gender-essentialism has been resilient to change. The former primarily advocates for the primacy of men in paid labor; the latter focuses on the perception of men and women as “distinctly, immutably, and naturally different” (Skewes et al., 2018, p.1) and thus, better fit for different tasks.

In my research, I continuously examine what these trends – increasing family complexity and persistent gender norms and scripts – mean for how we think of families (for example: who is ‘family’, who should do what within families), what kind of family-related transitions we (are willing to) experience (for example: parenthood), and how we are impacted by these transitions.


Remarriage in Comparative Perspective (Prof.dr. Matthijs Kalmijn and Dr. Wilfred Uunk; funded by MaGW Open Competition, NWO)

Remarriage is often seen as a "solution" for the high rates of divorce in modern society but a model of 'sequential monogamy' also introduces new problems and risks in society. While there is vast amount of research on divorce, fewer studies have been done on remarriage, in particular in Europe. We address five problems: barriers on the remarriage market, gender differences in remarriage, the effects of remarriage on well-being, father-child relations after remarriage, and the instability of remarriage. The underlying question is how the causes and consequences of remarriage vary with the degree to which divorce is institutionalized in society.

From Parents to Partners: The Impact of Family on Romantic Relationships in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood (PhD supervisors: Prof. dr. Melinda Mills and Prof.dr. René Veenstra; internally funded by the ICS)

Do adolescents who feel that they are rejected by their parents search for alternative sources of emotional warmth? Are children of divorced parents more likely to initiate romantic relationships than those from intact families? How does the instability surrounding a parental divorce affect an adolescent’s inclination to date? Does the quality of the family relational climate in childhood have a direct effect on people’s satisfaction with their intimate relationships even 15 years later, in emerging adulthood? This project investigates how relational experiences with family members and significant family transitions can affect the initiation and quality of romantic relationships in adolescence and emerging adulthood.