Familial understanding and self-esteem development: Comparing sexual minority and heterosexual individuals

Barrett Scroggs, Amber Vennum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The present study sought to explore how support from one's family of origin predicts the development of self-esteem across the transition to adulthood for sexual minority individuals compared with their heterosexual peers. Background: Familial relationships have an influence on the development of self-esteem. Additionally, lesbian, gay, and bisexual emerging adults may perceive less support from their families than heterosexual peers. Methods: The present study used secondary data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health study. The study conducted a multiple group latent growth curve following the development of self-esteem. Results: Results indicated that feeling as though one's family understood them in adolescence was significantly associated with self-esteem during adolescence for both sexual minority and majority individuals. Additionally, this sense of feeling understood by one's family was also associated with the rate of change of the developmental trajectory of self-esteem across four time points. Discussion: The study illustrates the lasting influence one's family of origin has during this important developmental moment. Results illustrated how familial understanding in adolescence was significantly associated with the development of self-esteem for both sexual minority and sexual majority individuals. Implications: The relationship with the family of origin has a lasting impact into emerging adulthood, and practitioners working with families can help ensure support for sexual minority adolescents. This includes, but is not limited to, encouraging communication within the family to build a sense of understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1875-1889
Number of pages15
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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