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University of Missouri

Modern Family

A new research institute at Mizzou studies the changing nature of families.

There is no “normal” family anymore.

There are families made of parents and stepparents, adopted brothers and stepsisters. A family might have only one father or one mother, while others have two fathers or two mothers. There are interfaith families, multiethnic families and foster families.

In an effort to better understand the changing nature of families, assistant professors of communication Colleen Colaner and Haley Horstman co‐founded the Institute of Family Diversity and Communication. Along with 12 researchers from nine departments across five MU schools and colleges, Colaner and Horstman are examining issues facing modern families.

The first project is to create a database of potential participants for the institute’s research.

Forthcoming research includes a study to better understand family communication surrounding a child’s diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. Another study will investigate communication in adoptive families.

Colaner and Horstman hope the Institute of Family Diversity and Communication can serve as a voice for families formed through diverse pathways.