Relationship Quality Between Older Fathers and Middle-Aged Children: Associations With Both Parties' Subjective Well-Being

A MiCDA Researcher Publication Abstract

Polenick, Courtney Allyn, Nicole DePasquale, David J. Eggebeen, Steven H. Zarit, and Karen L. Fingerman. Forthcoming. "Relationship Quality Between Older Fathers and Middle-Aged Children: Associations With Both Parties' Subjective Well-Being." Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

Relationships between fathers and their children are salient to both parties throughout the life course. Yet little is known about how these ties may affect well-being in later life. This study examined the implications of aging fathers' and middle-aged children's perceptions of father-child relationship quality for their own and the other party's well-being. Using a sample of 103 fathers (M = 77.88 years) and their children (M = 49.92 years) drawn from Wave 1 of the Family Exchanges Study, we estimated actor-partner interdependence models to evaluate associations between each party's perceptions of father-child relationship quality and their well-being.

We found fathers had elevated depressive symptoms when they reported more negative relationships with children. This association was exacerbated for fathers of daughters when daughters reported a highly negative relationship. Fathers had better self-rated health, however, when they reported more positive relationships with daughters. Children had elevated depressive symptoms and lower life satisfaction when they reported more negative ties with fathers. Finally, sons had lower depressive symptoms when they reported more positive ties with fathers. Findings suggest that father-child relationship quality has significant implications for the well-being of both aging fathers and middle-aged daughters or sons.

DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbw094 (Full Text)

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