Beyond Parental Status: Psychological Well-Being in Middle and Old Age



Surveys show little evidence of psychosocial disadvantage among childless middle-aged and older adults, but less is known about the diverse experiences that influence subjective well-being among parents and childless adults. In this article, the author uses the National Survey of Families and Households to test a parental-status typology on the basis of attitudes among childless adults and parent-child relationship quality and the connection of these factors with loneliness and depression. Poorer parent-child relationships are linked to worse outcomes for both mothers and fathers, net of other factors. For childless adults, negative attitudes about childlessness are associated with greater distress for women than for men.