Social & Education Policy

A Growth Curve Analysis of Self-Esteem and Depressive Symptomatology Throughout Emerging Adulthood: The Role of Family

Reed-Fitzke, K.; Withers, M.C.; Ferraro, A.J.; Lucier-Greer, M.; Duncan, J.M.


Research suggests family-level factors remain an important contributor to emerging adult mental health. Guided by the stress process framework, this study used latent growth curve modeling to examine the role of parent–child relationships, specifically emotional closeness and conflict, in child self-esteem and depression throughout emerging adulthood. Longitudinal associations between self-esteem and depression were also explored using four waves of data from the Longitudinal Study of Generations (N = 196 emerging adults; M = 20.88 years old at Wave 1). This period was characterized by steep increases in self-esteem and decreases in depression. Findings suggested parent–child emotional closeness and conflict in early emerging adulthood were associated with the intercept of self-esteem and were indirectly related to the intercept of depression through self-esteem; the rate of change in self-esteem predicted the rate of change in depression. Findings underscore the importance of parent–child relationships during early emerging adulthood and the long-term impact of personal resources on well-being.