Young Adults’ Communication with Parents about Purchasing and Consumption: Negotiating Identities and Managing Boundaries
Cindy H. White & Andrew B. Long
October 10 (Hellems 77, 11-11.50)
University of Colorado, Boulder
College serves as a final step before financial independence for many young adults. Students experience
considerable autonomy, yet they are often still partly dependent on parents. Past research indicates that family communication patterns are related to children’s views of consumption when children are living in the home (Moore & Moschis, 1981); however, the extent to which this influence reaches into young adulthood and how young adults communicate with parents about consumption has not been explored. This research draws on theoretical work about emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2000) and parent-young adult relationships (Renk et al., 2006) to understand how communication with parents about purchasing and consumption shapes young adult identity. Drawing from interviews, we explore college students’ perceptions of their communication with parents about purchasing and consumption, conflicts that emerge around these topics, concealment or topic avoidance around these issues, as well as students’ sense of how family socialization impacted their current attitudes about consumption. This study provides insight into how communication about purchasing and consumption relates to young adults’ emerging sense of independence and their changing relationship with parents.