Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Family Transitions

For a Special Issue on

Navigating Multiple Family Structure Transitions

Abstract deadline
15 September 2024

Manuscript deadline
01 May 2025

Cover image - Family Transitions

Special Issue Editor(s)

Dr. Ray Petren, Pennsylvania State University
[email protected]

Dr. Carol Johnston, Kansas State University
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Navigating Multiple Family Structure Transitions

Following several decades of research focused on family structure types and their effects on child and parent outcomes, Wu and Martinson (1993) proposed that static measurements of family structure at any one time only provided a “snapshot” and they advanced an “instability and change hypothesis” suggesting that the stress associated with multiple family structure changes over time may explain the effects of family structure. Since Wu and Martinson’s landmark study, a growing body of research has shown that family instability, typically operationalized as the frequency of parental repartnerships, has implications for both child and parent outcomes (e.g., Cavanagh & Fomby, 2019; Hadfield et al., 2018).

Despite the proliferation of research on this topic, gaps remain, and more research is needed to guide practice and policy related to families experiencing multiple transitions. For example, family instability research has often focused on mothers’ repartnerships, and less is known about instability related to other aspects of family and household composition (e.g., fathers, siblings, extended family; Raley & Sweeney, 2020). Also, more information is needed about the mechanisms through which family transitions affect individual and family outcomes and sources of resilience that may buffer the negative effects of multiple family transitions. Finally, there is heterogeneity in the effects of family instability by race and ethnicity (e.g., Cavanagh & Fomby, 2019; Fine & Johnston, 2020; Fomby & Cherlin, 2007), and little is known about whether family structure changes are adaptive in some circumstances and cultural contexts.

We welcome quantitative and qualitative research, reviews of research, and theoretical articles that address the following topics associated with individuals and families experiencing multiple family transitions:

  • Antecedents, consequences, and experiences of different types of family structure transitions
  • The effects of multiple family structure transitions on individual and family functioning
  • Mechanisms and pathways through which family instability affects individual and family functioning
  • Sources of resilience for individuals and families experiencing multiple family transitions
  • Cultural and contextual variation in the experience of multiple family transitions, including examinations of family transitions for underrepresented families (e.g., LGBTQ+ families)
  • Methodological and theoretical approaches to conceptualizing and operationalizing multiple family transitions
  • Other topics related to individuals and families experiencing multiple family transitions


Submission Instructions

Submission timeline and process:

  • Interested authors should submit a 300-500 word proposal by September 15th, 2024 to Ray Petren ([email protected]).
  • Invitations for full manuscripts will be sent by October 15th, 2024
  • Full manuscripts should be submitted by May 1st, 2025

In the cover letter, please indicate that you would like your manuscript to be considered for the special issue “Navigating Multiple Family Structure Transitions.” When submitting your manuscript, indicate you are submitted to a special issue by using the radio buttons and choosing the SI title from the drop down menu.

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact either Dr. Ray Petren ([email protected]) or Dr. Carol Johnston ([email protected]), or both.




Cavanagh, S. E., & Fomby, P. (2019). Family instability in the lives of American children. Annual Review of Sociology, 45(1), 493–513.

Fine, M.A., & Johnston, C.A. (2020). Divorce, marriage, and remarriage. In A. James (Ed.), Black Families: A Systems Approach (pp). San Diego, CA: Cognella Academic Press.

Fomby, P., & Cherlin, A. J. (2007). Family instability and child well-being. American Sociological Review, 72, 181–204.

Hadfield, K., Amos, M., Ungar, M., Gosselin, J., & Ganong, L. (2018). Do changes to family structure affect child and family outcomes? A systematic review of the instability hypothesis: Review of the instability hypothesis. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 10(1), 87–110.

Raley, R. K., & Sweeney, M. M. (2020). Divorce, repartnering, and stepfamilies: A decade in review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 82(1), 81-99.

Wu, L.L., & Martinson, B.C. (1993). Family structure and the risk of a premarital birth. American Sociological Review, 58, 210-232.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article