Social & Education Policy

Connections between parental reciprocity and emerging adult depressive symptoms and loneliness: The role of peer social support.

Smith, K.M.; Cobb, K.F.; Reed-Fitzke, K.; Ferraro, A.J.; Duncan, J.M.; Lucier-Greer, M.
Mar-06-2021

Abstract

Emerging adulthood is a developmental period marked by elevated mental health concerns; both theory and empirical research suggest that parental relationships play a salient role in emerging adult mental well-being. Additionally, peer social support has been explicated in the mental health of emerging adults, with evidence suggesting that it may serve as a mediating link between parent-emerging adult–child relationships and mental well-being. The present study used structural equation modeling to examine the relationships between the parent-emerging adult relationship, namely, parental relationship reciprocity, and peer social support, in association with depressive symptoms and loneliness among emerging adult college students. We hypothesized that (a) lower levels of parental relationship reciprocity would be related to higher levels of depressive symptoms and loneliness among emerging adults. We further hypothesized that (b) peer social support would mediate the relationships between parental relationship reciprocity and emerging adult depressive symptoms and loneliness. The findings supported our first hypothesis. Hypothesis two was partially supported. Peer support fully mediated the relationship between parental relationship reciprocity and loneliness; however, peer support only partially mediated the relationship between parental relationship reciprocity and depressive symptoms. Implications regarding the utilization of peer social support to promote emerging adult mental well-being are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)