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Trajectories of parent-child contact, affection, and conflict during the transition to adulthood

  • Author / Creator
    Fang, Shichen
  • The parent-child relationship is one of the most influential and long-lasting social ties for many people. Much research on this relationship focuses on childhood, adolescence, and old age, while parent-child relations during the transition to adulthood remains a relatively understudied area. Additionally, many studies have gathered data from only one parent (usually mother) and the child; a full understanding of parent-child relations requires information from both mother, father, and the child. Guided by a life course perspective on human development, this study examined trajectories of perceived parent-child contact, affection, and conflict in the transition to adulthood, as well as the moderating effect of sex composition of the parent-child dyad on these trajectories. This study also investigated associations of youth life course transitions (leaving the parental home, exiting the education system, initiating a romantic relationship) with parent-child relations, controlling for parent age and education. Data used in this study were collected from a community sample of German parent-child dyads (n = 3,680, 60% mother-child) followed annually from late adolescence (age 17) into the transition to adulthood (until age 22). Dyadic latent growth models revealed that parent-child contact and conflict decreased, and parent-child affection remained stable. Mothers on average had better relations with their children than did fathers, with the mother-daughter relationship being the closest and the father-son relationship being the most vulnerable. Older parents tended to report more parent-child contact but less affection at age 17, while more educated parents experienced a greater decline in contact from ages 17 to 22. Parent-child co-residence was associated with more parent-child contact, more conflict, and more youth-reported affection toward parents. Being a student in secondary, vocational, or post-secondary schooling was related to more parent-child contact and less conflict in the late teens, and less contact in the early 20s. Being in a romantic relationship was linked with less parent-child contact and less parent-reported affection toward children in the late teens, and less conflict and more parent-reported affection in the early 20s. Using a rigorous analytic approach, this study expands upon our knowledge about general patterns and predictors of parent-child relations in an important transitional period of life.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-9h3m-3x79
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.