Direct and indirect transmission of relationship functioning across generations.


Journal Article

Relationship functioning is assumed to propagate across subsequent generations, but most studies have lacked appropriate methodologies to test this assumption prospectively. In a randomly selected sample of youth (N = 821) followed prospectively for over 25 years across multiple generations, we examined the association of romantic engagement (i.e., emotional involvement and closeness) between parents with offspring romantic relationship quality. We tested two developmental pathways linking parents' romantic engagement with offspring adult romantic relationship quality, the first operating via parenting practices, and the second operating via adolescent depression. Parents' romantic engagement predicted offspring romantic relationship quality a mean of 17 years later, net age and socioeconomic status. Results supported a developmental pathway from parents' romantic engagement at offspring mean age 14, to parenting at offspring mean age 16, to offspring socioemotional functioning at mean age 22, and offspring romantic relationship quality at mean age 33. However, the influence of parents' romantic engagement on offsprings' adult romantic relationship quality does not appear to operate via a pathway of adolescent depression. Implications for prevention are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ehrensaft, MK; Knous-Westfall, HM; Cohen, P

Published Date

  • December 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 942 - 952

PubMed ID

  • 22023390

Pubmed Central ID

  • 22023390

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1293

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0025606


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States