Date of Award:

1-1-1996

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

This research examined child-parent relationships from the perspective of the psychological well-being of parents during midlife and while launching children. A subsample of 1,253 parents from the National Survey of Families and Households was studied using variables from both waves (1988 and 1993) of longitudinal data. Fathers and mothers were analyzed separately for depression and self-satisfaction at the second wave (1993) in relation to their< perceptions of child, adjustment and child-parent relationships in 1988, and parents' employment and their marital status in 1993. Analyses showed that fathers' depression scores in 1 g93 were significantly related to fathers' perceptions of child adjustment (total and positive), and fathers' age, marital, and employment status. Mothers' depression scores were associated with their marital and employment status and with mothers' perceptions of child adjustment. iii Analyses demonstrated that fathers' self-satisfaction was related to all children having departed and to fathers' marital status, but not to fathers' perceptions of child adjustment. Mothers' self-satisfaction was more frequently related to their marital status and to perceptions of child adjustment but not to children having departed. The small number of significant associations between launching and parents' well-being suggests that either launching is not as highly associated with parental well-being as previously believed, or that launching is a more elusive concept than reflected by the measures used in this study. Age, employment, and marital status appear to be more salient to parents well-being than the departure of children as measured in these studies. The findings also suggest that some aspects of the role of parenting may not change significantly when children leave home. From the findings of this research, future research endeavors should reconsider the concept of launching per se as well as its relation to parents' wellbeing in mid life. Other factors such as marriage and employment should be more closely studied as being more strongly related to well-being in mid life than children's departures from home.

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