CREATING KINSHIP:AN EXPLORATION OF RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN YOUNG ADULT NEW ZEALANDERS, THEIR PARENTS, AND THEIR INTIMATE PARTNERS

Donna McKenzie

Abstract


It has been argued (Carsten 2004) that kinship involves not just rights, rules, and obligations but is also a realm of new possibilities, and what has been lacking in anthropology is an examination of the experience of kinship. Kinshipor relatedness is a significant part of human experience, although it will take culturally and historically specific forms. Dominant themes that shape Western or Euro-American ideas of kin in parent-child relationships are to do with degrees of independence from parental control and authority coupled with a never-ending familial responsibility (Allan 1996). Young adults are in a transitional phase, one in which many are attempting to secure an independent adult identity and become fully adult social beings. This has the potential for conflict between parents and adult children and to create emotional and/or physical distance from each other. However, the support of young people by parents and other close kin is also a significant factor for the individual resilience needed in times of distress. If a young person does not have kin to depend upon, an alternative may be friendship with the parent/s of one’s intimate partner. The danger with this is that if the intimate relationship ends, so too may the friendship. This paper examines these relationship experiences for a group of young adult New Zealanders.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol4iss1id26