Social & Education Policy

Longitudinal Connections of Self-esteem and Depression Among Adult Children and their Parents

Reed-Fitzke, K.; Withers, M.C.; Watters, E.R.


This study sought to replicate research that explores the interconnection between self-esteem and depression throughout young and middle adulthood, and examine the transmission of self-esteem and depression between parent and adult child. Four waves of dyadic data (n = 203 parent–child dyads) from the Longitudinal Study of Generations were used. Cross-lagged panel modeling was used to examine the link between self-esteem and depression over young and middle adulthood. Actor–partner interdependence modeling (APIM) was then used to examine the interconnections between parent and adult children over time. Findings indicated self-esteem was relatively stable during both young and middle adulthood, whereas depression was relatively stable during middle adulthood but unstable during young adulthood. In the dyadic model, partner effects were only present from adult children to their parents (i.e., lower adult child self-esteem was related to lower parent self-esteem). Findings indicate a reverse transmission process from adult child to parent (versus parent to child) may be present after a child becomes an adult.