APA: Grown Children's Issues Impact Parents' Mental Health

Grown child with problems predicts worse parental well-being; one successful child may not help
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who have more than one highly successful grown child are more likely to experience better well-being, but having even one grown child with problems has an adverse effect on parents' mental health, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, held from Aug. 12 to 15 in San Diego.

Karen L. Fingerman, Ph.D., of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and colleagues evaluated 633 middle-aged parents with 1,251 grown children. Parents rated their children's life achievements and provided information on their own psychological well-being, their relationships with their children, and any emotional, lifestyle, physical, or behavioral problems their grown child had experienced.

The investigators found that 68.2 percent of parents had at least one grown child experiencing at least one problem over the last two years, with 48.7 percent of parents indicating that at least one of their children was highly successful. Approximately 60 percent of parents said they had a mix of successful and less successful children. The researchers found that having one or more successful children did not predict parental well-being, but those with more than one highly successful child (greater total success in the family) were likely to have better well-being. However, having at least one child with problems predicted worse well-being for parents, and, the more problems in the family, the worse the parental well-being.

"Middle-aged parents may be particularly susceptible to their children's successes and failures during the transition into adulthood. Findings also emphasize the importance of considering multiple children; most parents with more than one child considered some children successful and others problematic," the authors write.

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