Objectives. Despite the centrality of parent–adult child relations, prior research has found only weak associations with parent well-being. There is a need to give more explicit attention to the relations of parents with multiple children and to the potentially mixed or “ambivalent” nature of those relations. These patterns may differ for mothers and fathers. Methods. Wave 1 of the National Survey of Families and Households provided detailed information on relations between parents and each of their adult children. The sample included 2,270 persons aged 50+ who had at least one child aged 19+. Results. Measures across multiple adult children uncovered more mixed patterns of “collective ambivalence” that included lesser quality and/or contact with at least some children. The presence of less positive relations with any children was consistently, albeit modestly, related to lower parent well-being. Mothers reported higher “maximum” quality and interaction across children, but mothers and father did not differ in “minimum” reports. Associations between parent–child relations and well-being were similar for mothers and fathers. Discussion. Analyses that incorporate the relations of parents with their multiple adult children, viewed as part of a family network, yield a more comprehensive and nuanced view of those relations and their implications for well-being. Key words
The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences – Oxford University Press
Published: Jul 1, 2008
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