The Adult Child-Parent Relationship and Parent Psychological Distress: How Do Relationship Quality, Dissatisfaction, and Equity Matter?

Corinne Reczek, Ohio State University
Zhe Zhang, Ohio State University

Relationships with children are important for parents' psychological well-being. However, the vast majority of research in this area focuses on the consequences of having young children on parents’ psychological outcomes. Research on adult child-parent relationships and parents’ distress tend to be cross-sectional and only examine one dimension of the parent-child tie. Drawing on a merged life course and stress perspective, we use four waves of national longitudinal data (Americans’ Changing Lives, N = 1,656) to test how multiple dimensions of the intergenerational relationship shape baseline levels of, and trajectories of change over time in, parents’ psychological distress. We find that relationship quality is associated with parents’ distress at baseline but not over time, while relationship equity and dissatisfaction shape trajectories of change in parents’ psychological distress over time. We further show how these effects vary for mothers and fathers.

See paper

 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households