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Linked Lives: Adult Children’s Problems and Their Parents’ Psychological and Relational Well-Being


Human Development & Family Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1430 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706 (


This study examined associations between adult children’s cumulative problems and their parents’ psychological and relational well-being, as well as whether such associations are similar for married and single parents. Regression models were estimated using data from 1,188 parents in the 1995 National Survey of Midlife in the United States whose youngest child was at least 19 years old. Participants reporting children with more problems indicated moderately poorer levels of well-being across all outcomes examined. Single parents reporting more problems indicated less positive affect than a comparable group of married parents, but married parents reporting more problems indicated poorer parent-child relationship quality. Findings are congruent with the family life course perspective, conceptualizing parents and children as occupying mutually influential developmental trajectories.

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