Stress & Well-being: The Role of Relationship Quality with Adult Children

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The current study explores how aspects of social support exchanged between older parents and their adult children might arbitrate the effects of stress on positive and negative affect. While unchecked stress can be deleterious to well-being, social support is frequently considered advantageous to well-being. As such, scores of studies have described social supports' modulating role in the relationship between stress and well-being; however, support for this role has been inconsistent. Although the literature suggests family support increases in importance as people age, and that the quality of relationships with adult children in particular have notable social and psychological consequences for older parents, relationship quality between older parents and adult children does not appear to have been well-explored in the context of the relationship between stress and well-being. The following paper describes the creation of a measure of relationship quality with adult children, and focuses on how this aspect of social support arbitrates the relationship between stress and well-being. In particular, date from Successful Aging in Context, an ongoing, longitudinal study of adult aging and development, were used to test whether relationship quality with adult children mediates the relationship between stress and affect (both positive and negative); for completion, follow-up analyses investigated moderating relationships among these variables. Results suggest that relationship quality with adult children positively relates to positive affect, but negatively relates to negative affect and perceived stress. These results lend support to the direct effect hypothesis regarding the relationship among social support and well-being; thus, high-quality relationships with adult children have salubrious effects on well-being with or without stress.



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