Trajectories of Mother-Child Relationships Across the Life Course: Links with Adult Well-Being

Part of the Frontiers in Sociology and Social Research book series (FSSR, volume 2)


The family is a long-term, intergenerational network of interacting actors. This chapter takes a person-centered approach to examine the dynamics of mother-child relationships from adolescence to adulthood, and the associations of these trajectories with adult child well-being. The authors present empirical findings from the two-generation Youth Development Study, where more than 1000 9th graders have been followed for over two decades. A growth mixture model latent trajectory analysis identified three pathways of G1 mother and G2 child relationship quality: persistently close relationships as youth moved from adolescence to adulthood, initially lower but increasing closeness over time, and diminishing closeness through the transition to adulthood. The chapter reports an examination of these trajectories in relation to G2 adult mental health, finding that the two trajectories indicating problematic mother-child relationships, either in adolescence or in adulthood, are associated with higher adult depressed mood and lower self-esteem.


Social networks Generations Trajectories Closeness Mental health Relationship quality Family Parent Life course 



This work was supported by Grant R01HD044138 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The Youth Development Study was supported by grants, “Work Experience and Mental Health: A Panel Study of Youth,” from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD44138) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH42843). The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the sponsors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, Department of PediatricsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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