Hello, I am Dr. Youngjin Kang, an Assistant Professor of Human Services (Child and Family Studies Concentration) in the UIS School of Public Management and Policy. Prior to proudly joining the faculty at UIS in 2017, I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia to earn my PhD in Family Science. Well, can I say that I am a Midwesterner spending one fourth of my life in Missouri and Illinois?
I was born and raised in South Korea and lived there until my mid 20s. I majored in English Literature and Linguistics for my BA, which I didn’t like that much, but looking back I appreciate what I studied because I had an opportunity to teach high school students as an English teacher. Mentioning my teaching experience as a high school teacher is important because it is directly related to my passion for research on family relationships. One day, I was sitting at the corner of the teachers’ room seeing so-called problematic kids. I asked myself, “Are they really problematic?” This question got stuck in my mind for a while, so I started observing them and found the answer that they are not; they make trouble to get attention from others because they don’t get love and care that they need from home; their relationships with parents and other family members are not positive. Back then, even though I was not a researcher, I hypothesized that couple relationship quality between parents is fundamental for child wellbeing.
My research focuses on how family members develop and maintain their relationships after transitions in family structure (e.g., divorce, remarriage). Specific research interests include family processes, intergenerational relationships, parent-child relationships, parent-child communications, and co-parenting relationships in post-divorce families. These days people live longer and there is more likelihood that families experience changes in family structure, so how family members continue to develop and maintain their relationships as they adjust to stressful times associated with changes in family structure is intriguing to me.
My research has been published in different journals such as Family Relations, Journal of Child and Family Studies, Journal of Family Issues, Journal of Family Studies, and The Gerontologist. I was awarded for my collaborative research with my colleagues by the Aging and Family Therapy sections at the National Conference of National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). Here is one of my publications that came from my doctoral dissertation in case you are interested, entitled, “Divorced fathers’ perceptions of parental disclosures to children” published in Family Relations (https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12410).
The most recent research project that I am working on is young adult children’s perspectives of their divorced parents’ new dating relationships. Research indicates that among divorce-related stressors, parents’ new dating relationships during and after separation are known to be one of the major stressors for both parents (Langlais, Anderson, & Greene, 2016) and children (Langlais, DeAnda, Anderson, & Greene, 2018). Divorced parents’ new dating relationships represent added transitions to which children and parents must adjust (Miller-Ott, 2013). At some point parents are likely to disclose information about their dating partners to their children. However, parents vary in their perceptions of when, how much, and what to disclose (Kang, Ganong, Chapman, Coleman, & Ko, 2017; Kang & Ganong, 2020), without being informed about empirical evidence to ensure the child’s best interests, so I believe my study results have important implications for post-divorce families, practitioners, and researchers. I am still recruiting participants, so if you would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
As a professor, I teach HMS core courses (e.g., HMS 516 Ethics and Professional Development) and Child and Family Studies concentration courses (e.g., HMS 567 Family Dynamics and Intervention). I believe that teaching future and current human services professionals is critical and rewarding because they are the ones who reach out to children and families and implement evidence-based practices. This really bridges the gap between research and practice. I love my students who positively change the lives of those who are in need and the communities that they serve. They teach me passion, love, care, social justice, and more.
Last important thing to mention: I am a mother of two young children (6 months old & 30 months old). As a researcher who studies family relationships, I knew entering motherhood changes entire family dynamics, but my life now teaches me every word from my textbooks I studied in my degree program again. As a mother, my childbearing and childrearing experience is unique in that it began with Covid-19. I hope my children (and all children in the world) will be able to fearlessly and fully enjoy playing, walking, talking, eating, and having real human interactions without a mask. Thank you for reading!