The subject of emotion constitutes an emerging field within sociology. Underpinning debates about changing family relationships is a longstanding focus on troublesome emotions such as anxiety, stress and ambivalence. Key scholars – Bauman; Beck and Beck-Gernsheim; and Giddens – have been influential in setting the tone of this debate in which problematic emotions and fragile personal relationships are considered to be the new order in contemporary Western societies. This article contributes to a growing body of work that challenges such a view. Through in-depth analysis of qualitative longitudinal interviews with young female undergraduate students, the article illuminates the temporal and relational dimensions of emotion and ambivalence at a time of heightened personal change. The article concludes that shifting emotional dynamics within families need not be characterised in apocalyptic terms, but understood as part of the ongoing negotiations that connect kin at various stages in the lifecourse.