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Parent-child relationships and offspring’s positive mental wellbeing from adolescence to early older age

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Mai Stafford
  • Diana Kuh
  • Catharine Gale
  • Gita Mishra
  • Marcus Richards

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-337
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date15 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Few longitudinal studies considered positive mental wellbeing outcomes. We addressed this gap using Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) data. Wellbeing was measured at ages 13-15 (teacher-rated happiness), 36 (life satisfaction), 43 (satisfaction with home and family life), and 60-64 years (Diener Satisfaction With Life scale and Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale). The Parental Bonding Instrument captured perceived care and control from the father and mother to age 16, recalled by study members at age 43. Greater wellbeing was seen for offspring with higher combined parental care and lower combined parental psychological control (p<0.05 at all ages). Controlling for maternal care and paternal and maternal behavioural and psychological control, childhood social class, parental separation, mother’s neuroticism and study member’s personality, higher wellbeing was consistently related to paternal care. This suggests that both mother-child and father-child relationships may have short and long-term consequences for positive mental wellbeing.

    Research areas

  • well-being, longitudinal, birth cohort study, life satisfaction

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