Young People’s Families And Close Relationships. Youth Living Conditions Yearbook 2020

Tiina Valkendorff & Ella Sihvonen (Eds.)


The Youth Living Conditions Yearbook for 2020 looks at the family and close relationships of young people. The family relationships of young people have been studied only to a limited extent in both youth research and family research. Youth is typically a time of gaining independence and breaking free from the childhood family, and when peer relationships increase in importance. Various close relationships are also important for many children and young people and can include those meanings that are traditionally attached to families. The Yearbook studies the complex family and close relationships of children and young people from different perspectives. The Youth Living Conditions Yearbook 2020 provides new information on the family and close relationships of young people, taking inspiration from the youth research and family research traditions. The 13th Yearbook in the series was produced by the Finnish Youth Research Network in collaboration with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the State Youth Council. The Yearbook provides the latest information to decision-makers, professionals, researchers and those interested in youth affairs.

The young people’s family and close relationships theme is positioned at the intersection between two research traditions – youth research and family research. The Yearbook’s empirical articles study the ways in which children, young people and young adults talk about family and their views of their future family. The articles also examine the meanings young people assign to the family, their definitions of family and their thoughts on who make up their families. In the Youth Living Conditions Yearbook, the study of young people’s family relationships is directed at the childhood family, but family relationships are also examined over the boundaries of the childhood family, directed at the young person’s own parenthood or close relationships outside the childhood family. The expanding concept and understanding of what is a family and the emphasis on empirical study and subjective meanings have already been discussed for a long time in the area of family research within sociology and social science. In statistics, the diversity of families always takes a little longer to show up, as revealed by the Yearbook’s statistical analysis.

The Yearbook investigates young people’s family and close relationships in eight empirical articles and a statistical section. The statistical section Lapset, nuoret ja perheet tilastoissa (Children, young people and families in statistics) surveys the changes in family types and the families of young adults. The increase in the number of people living alone and the decline in the birth rate are reflected in the statistics describing young families. The record-low birth rate has, indeed, been a significant topic of discussion during the current year, and many have considered the reasons why young people are postponing starting a family. Despite the reduction in birth rate and the postponement of starting a family, children are also born to relatively young parents each year.

Yearbook’s eight research articles are placed under three main headings. The section titled Lapsuuden perheet (Childhood families) focuses on children and young people. The articles discuss the way young people talk about family, their experience of family and definition of a family. The section talks about both the definition of families with adopted children and children’s experiences of dual residence.

The section titled Nuorten aikuisten perheet (Families of young adults) focuses on young adults. The section highlights young adults’ concepts of family and their thoughts on their future families. The family and close relationships of mothers who had a child at a young age and the parenthood of young mothers are also studied.

The section titled Läheissuhteet hauraissa elämäntilanteissa (Close relationships in fragile life situations) focuses on the support that close relationships offer young people. Close relationships are important for the wellbeing of a young person, especially when their life situation involves challenges, or they lack the support of their own family. Close relationships provide a sense of belonging and support the wellbeing of a young people. This section deals with the significance of support families in the life of young people of asylum seeker background and the guidance provided by professionals in the home economics sector that supports the daily life of young people.

Keywords: young people, families, young families, stepfamilies, nuclear families, support families, youth research; family research; birth rate, family concepts, parenting, close relatives, adopted children, asylum seekers