Department of Sociology, 355 Stone Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.
Mothers' Differentiation and Depressive Symptoms Among Adult Children
Article first published online: 8 APR 2010
Copyright © National Council on Family Relations, 2010
Journal of Marriage and Family
Volume 72, Issue 2, pages 333–345, April 2010
How to Cite
Pillemer, K., Suitor, J. J., Pardo, S. and Henderson, C. (2010), Mothers' Differentiation and Depressive Symptoms Among Adult Children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72: 333–345. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00703.x
- Issue published online: 8 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 8 APR 2010
- adult siblings;
- families in middle and later life;
- intergenerational relations;
- parent-child relations
Parents' differentiation has been linked to negative psychological and behavioral outcomes in children, adolescents, and young adults. This line of research, however, has not been extended to families in later life. In this article, we use data from 671 mother-child dyads in 275 families in the greater Boston area to explore whether mothers' differentiation among their children is related to psychological well-being among offspring. We examined actual and perceived maternal differentiation in the domains of closeness, expectations for care, and conflict. We hypothesized that depressive symptoms would be higher when mothers differentiated among their children and when adult children perceived differentiation. Although the specific patterns varied somewhat by mothers' and children's reports, the findings indicated that, across all 3 domains, maternal differentiation was related to higher depression scores.