Parent-Adult Child Relationships and Mental Health

Jieun Song

Nadine F. Marks


Guided by symbolic interactionism and a life course perspective, this study examined the associations between parent-adult child relationships and mental health of retired parents, with moderating effects of marital status. OLS regression models were estimated using data from 701 retired parents in National Surveys of Families and Households (T1:1987-88; T2:1992-93). Poor relationship with adult children was associated with more depressive symptoms, less happiness, and less psychological wellness. Single retirees reporting companionship indicated less depressive symptoms and more happiness. Communication was associated with more psychological wellness and proximity was associated with less depressive symptoms among single retirees. Children’s economic stress was linked to less happiness among retirees. Findings suggest parent-adult child relationships are protective to mental health among single retired parents.

Keywords: parent-adult child relationships, mental health, marital status, longitudinal, depression, retirement