From Adolescent to Young Adult: A Prospective Study of Parent-Child Relations during the Transition to Adulthood

By Aquilino, William S. | Journal of Marriage and Family, August 1997 | Go to article overview

From Adolescent to Young Adult: A Prospective Study of Parent-Child Relations during the Transition to Adulthood


Aquilino, William S., Journal of Marriage and Family


Longitudinal data from the National Survey of Families and Households were analyzed to explore continuity and change in parent-child relations as children make the transition to adulthood. Results support a social learning view that past relationship patterns continue to be played out when families enter a new life stage. The effects of earlier patterns of interaction on later relations are modest, however, and account for less than 10% of the variance in current parent-child relationships. Evidence of long-term effects was strongest in two aspects of parent-adult child relations: emotional closeness and control-conflict. The potential for discontinuity over time in parent-child relations also was examined. The hypothesis that children's transition to adult roles would bring about change in family relationships was supported, in part. Transitions to marriage, cohabitation, and fulltime employment (but not to parenthood) were associated with closer, more supportive, and less conflicted parent-adult child relations. The child's leaving home also weakened the impact of past patterns of interaction on some aspects of current relationship quality.

Key Words: intergenerational relations, life course, parentchild relations.

The parental and filial roles form a core part of identity over much of the adult life span (Amato, 1994; Rossi Ac Rossi, 1990; Umberson, 1992). The uniqueness of the parent-child relationship in adulthood derives, in part, from its distinctive history (White, 1993). Over the life course, the relationship evolves from a pattern of child dependence on parents to a relationship between two mature adults that is characterized by mutuality and reciprocity of care (Nydegger, 1991). A critical question is the extent to which the early history of the parent-child relationship determines its future. Do childhood patterns shape adult intergenerational relations? This is an area of human development we know little about. The few studies in this area have relied mostly on retrospective reports of questionable validity.

This article explores the extent of continuity in parent-child relations from adolescence to young adulthood and the life course factors that may lead to change over time. I focus on two research questions. First, do patterns of childrearing and parent-child relations during adolescence exert a long-term influence on relations between parents and adult children? Second, what are sources of discontinuity in parent-child relations? Here I focus specifically on the individual life course transitions that may precipitate relationship changes. These questions are examined in a prospective design using longitudinal data from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH). Analyses are based on parents' reports at both times of measurement.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE

The life course perspective on family development (Bengtson & Allen, 1993; Elder, 1984) guides my approach to the study of family relationships over time. This perspective emphasizes the interdependence of the life histories of family members (Elder, 1984) and the potential for both continuity and change in patterns of family interaction over the life course. Elder's (1984) model of the "dual dynamic of family development" suggests that family relationships change in response to the individual developmental paths of family members. At the same time, changing patterns of family interaction shape individual life paths. Research in this tradition has demonstrated the potential for continuity over time and over generations in family process and the ability of the life course transitions of individual family members to change patterns of family relationships (Caspi & Elder, 1988; Elder, Caspi, & Burton, 1988; Elder, Caspi, & Downey, 1986).

Continuity in Family Patterns: The Past as Prologue

How much continuity in parent-child relations should we expect to observe when children move from adolescence to young adulthood? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From Adolescent to Young Adult: A Prospective Study of Parent-Child Relations during the Transition to Adulthood
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.