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Parent–Child Shared Time From Middle Childhood to Late Adolescence: Developmental Course and Adjustment Correlates


  • Portions of this article were presented at the Society for Research on Child Development biennial meeting, Denver, CO, April 2009, and at the Society for Research on Adolescence biennial meeting, Philadelphia, PA, March 2010. The authors are grateful to the undergraduate and graduate assistants, staff, and faculty collaborators for their help in conducting this study, as well as the participating families for their time and insights about family relationships. This work was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD32336) to Ann C. Crouter and Susan M. McHale, co-principal investigators.

concerning this article should be addressed to Chun Bun Lam, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 106 Beecher Dock House, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. Electronic mail may be sent to


The development and adjustment correlates of parent–child social (parent, child, and others present) and dyadic time (only parent and child present) from age 8 to 18 were examined. Mothers, fathers, and firstborns and secondborns from 188 White families participated in both home and nightly phone interviews. Social time declined across adolescence, but dyadic time with mothers and fathers peaked in early and middle adolescence, respectively. In addition, secondborns’ social time declined more slowly than firstborns’, and gendered time use patterns were more pronounced in boys and in opposite-sex sibling dyads. Finally, youths who spent more dyadic time with their fathers, on average, had higher general self-worth, and changes in social time with fathers were positively linked to changes in social competence.