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Kaufman, Gayle & Uhlenberg, Peter (1998). Effects of Life Course Transitions on the Quality of Relationships between Adult Children and Their Parents. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60(4), 924-938.


Parents and children are connected throughout their lives. Each generation experiences life course transitions, and these, in turn, influence the lives of the other generation. Using data from the 1987-1988 and 1992-1994 waves of the National Survey of Families and Households, we examine how life course transitions experienced by each generation affect changes in the adult child-parent relationship. There is substantial variability in child-parent relationships. Approximately one fifth of relationships deteriorate, and one fifth improve over this time period. Results indicate that parental divorce and declines in parents' health lead to deteriorating child-parent relationships. Problems in a child's marriage also strain the adult child-parent relationship. Gender has an important mediating effect on intergenerational relations, as evidenced by the differential effects on son-mother and daughter-father relationships of having children, changing work hours, and increasing distance.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Marriage and the Family


Kaufman, Gayle
Uhlenberg, Peter