USC Center for the Changing Family

We are an interdisciplinary group of USC faculty who study family systems, close relationships, and mental and physical health across the lifespan. 

The family profoundly shapes health and well-being from cradle to grave. Increasingly, social connection has been recognized as a public health priority and a buffer against stress and disease, just as social isolation has been found to carry a greater mortality toll than smoking, obesity, and alcoholism. In infancy and childhood, consistent caregiving supports survival and the development of self-regulatory capacities. In contrast, a growing literature on adverse childhood experiences demonstrates that children raised in unstable or conflictual families show reduced educational and occupational attainment and greater physical and mental health problems in late life. In adulthood, marriage has been linked with both health and economic benefits, although dysfunctional or abusive relationships can carry significant costs. Among older adults, late-life caregiving demands are often borne by the family unit. Family caregiving can be protective for older adults, but can also place significant emotional and economic strains on partners and adult children.

Families are not necessarily harmonious, but can also be settings for abuse, neglect, and trauma. And the family’s influence can extend beyond the lifespan, across generations. Much recent research has elucidated the mechanisms of intergenerational transmission across multiple domains, from the transmission of incarceration risk and educational attainment, to family aggression and psychopathology, to physical health and neurodevelopment.

As a diverse group of scholars spanning multiple fields, we define "family" broadly. Families can vary in size and structure, and are dynamic, reconfiguring as couples make the transition into parenthood or an empty-nester phase; separate or divorce; and experience illness and bereavement. These transition points, or “hinge moments,” can be windows of both vulnerability and opportunity.

Families typically cohabitate, pool resources, share ties of kinship, obligation, and commitment, and coordinate communication, emotions, and behaviors. Other social groups also exhibit these characteristics, but rarely with the same intensity or duration. Family members therefore have greater potential to get under each other’s skin, not just figuratively but literally, as families may share genes, microbiota, and interlinked patterns of brain and biological activation. For children, the family environment also has primacy: That is, the family typically constitutes the first social environment into which a child emerges, and offers a template for the larger world.

CCF Research Grant Recipient Roundtable

Please join USC's Center for the Changing Family (CCF) on Monday, March 27 at 12pm on Zoom for a roundtable discussion featuring some of our past research grant recipients. CCF is an interdisciplinary center for USC faculty and trainees studying the family system or relationships, broadly construed. Over the years we have funded both members and non-members alike doing research that spoke to our center's focus.

This round table discussion will highlight the following awardees:
Holly Bradley, Bobbi Pineda, Natalie Cruz, Joyce Javier, Yana Ryjova, Alaina Gold.

All are welcome! Join us on this zoom link here:

West Coast Premier of Fair Play

CCF had the honor of hosting the West Coast premiere of the Fair Play file produced by Hello Sunshine and directed by the First Partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom on Sept. 30, 2022. After the film, a discussion panel was held featuring Fair Play author Eve Rodsky, Mother Honestly's CEO Blessing Adesiyan, CCF Co-Director Dr. Darby Saxbe and the First Partner. The discussion was moderated by author of Mommy Burnout, Sheryl Ziegler.

Find out more about Fair Play here:

CCF Book Club - Spring 2022

The USC Center for the Changing Family is happy to announce we have launched our first ever book club! We have partnered with the Los Angeles Public Library to bring the rest of the book club series.

Add us to your calendar! You can register for the remaining book club events here:

  • April 12 at 12 pm PST we will be having Jessica Nordell, Ph.D. join us to talk about her book The End of Bias: A Beginning.

Missed our past book clubs? Catch them here!

Congratulations to our Spring '22 Faculty Fellows!

Cheers to our Faculty Fellows!

Dr. Chardée A. Galán and Dr. Zsófia A. Szojka

Their Research:

  • Dr. Galán's study will utilize social network analysis (SNA) to characterize the networks of individuals from whom Black youth receive racial socialization messages across family, school, and community contexts!
  • Dr. Szojka's study will explore children's knowledge of their own bodies and their descriptions of touch experienced as part of a routine pediatric examination to investigate best practice methods for questioning victims of child abuse.