Assessing the Effect of Parental Marital Conflict on Adult Child Relationship Outcomes: Does the Apple Fall Far from the Tree?

Constance T. Gager, Arizona State University
Mary H. Benin, Arizona State University

This research aims to better understand how parental relationship status and marital quality influence adult child relational outcomes. Specifically, we examine the effect of parent’s level of conflict and marital satisfaction on adult children’s current relationship with their own dating, cohabiting, or marital partner. We use waves 1 and 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) to capture our main predictor variables: level of conflict between parents and parental marital satisfaction. We also use these two waves to construct a history of parent relationship transitions and family structure, which should have a large effect on adult relational outcomes. We use NSFH3 to capture our main outcome variables, adult child reports of their relationship satisfaction and the level of disagreement with their current partner. In sum, we will examine the effect of parental relationship quality and/or discord during childhood on adult children’s relational outcomes.

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Presented in Session 93: Family Influences on Child Well Being