Lifelines: Young New Zealanders imagine family, friends and relationships across their life-course

Lifelines: Young New Zealanders imagine family, fr…
01 Sep 2007

This research report explored young people’s imagined futures with a specific focus on family life, friendships and intimate relationships.

LifeLines – stories written in response to a guided writing exercise – were collected from 100 Year 13 students, aged 16–18 years, from a range of metropolitan, provincial and rural New Zealand secondary schools. An analysis of the LifeLines was completed that identified the ways in which young people make sense of family, friendship and intimacy, and how they imagine they might live their lives in the context of these meanings.

This report was produced for the Families Commission Blue Skies Fund by Lesley Patterson, Robin Peace, Bronwyn Campbell and Christy Parker.

Key Results

The key finding of this research is that young people’s imagined futures are structured by a dominant narrative: a Happy, Stable and Contented Life. Young people generally imagine that their lives will turn out well.

Central to the happy, stable and contented life is a life-long intimate relationship through which emotional and material security is achieved. In the happy, stable and contented life, this relationship is formed relatively early in the life-course (usually in the mid to late twenties) and continues to shape the experience of each phase of the narrator’s life. Young people imagine the formation of their families as occurring sometime during the starting out and thriving family phases, and their children are typically imagined as having similarly happy, stable and contented lives. Indeed, their children’s lives are characterised by academic and career success, and by successfully forming future families that produce the narrators’ imagined grandchildren.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018