Benchmarking the past: Children’s early memories and maternal reminiscing as a function of family structure.


The present research explores the role of family structure and maternal reminiscing in childhood amnesia in middle childhood (age 7-11 years). Children from non-nuclear (solo parent, blended, extended; n = 13) or nuclear families (two biological parents; n = 13) were interviewed about their two earliest memories; they also reminisced with their mothers about shared past events. Children from non-nuclear families had earlier memories than children from nuclear families. Mothers from non-nuclear families generated shorter and less elaborative reminiscing conversations with their children than did mothers from nuclear families. For children from non-nuclear families, the number of extra adults in their household was correlated with earlier memories. Results are discussed with respect to both transition and social-cultural theories of memory development.