Relationships with parents and adult children's substance use.

Academic Article


  • Previous research has indicated that parents impact minor children's health behaviors and adult children's self-rated health and psychological well-being. However, little is known about the long-term consequences of the parent-child relationship for adult children's substance (i.e., smoking levels, low to moderate alcohol use) as adult children age. The present study uses growth curve analysis on longitudinal survey data (Americans' Changing Lives, N=907) to examine how multiple dimensions of the parent-child tie influence adult children's substance use. Findings show that contact with mothers in adulthood has a health-enhancing effect on sons' smoking. Fathers' support is related to a decline in alcohol use for sons and daughters, but also an increase in smoking for sons only. Our findings for strain from parents are complex, suggesting that the ways in which adult children cope and manage strain with parents may result in multiple pathways of substance use. Our study raises new questions about whether and when family ties are "good" or "bad" for health and calls for a more multifaceted view of the long-lasting parent-child tie. We spotlight the need to look at the parent-child relationship as a dynamic social tie that changes over the life course and has consequences for health in adulthood.
  • Published In


  • Alcohol use, Parent-child tie, Smoking, Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Adult Children, Alcohol Drinking, Comorbidity, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Parent-Child Relations, Parents, Smoking, Stress, Psychological
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Reczek C; Thomeer MB; Kissling A; Liu H
  • Start Page

  • 198
  • End Page

  • 206
  • Volume

  • 65