Contagion in Family Affection : Mothers, Fathers, and Young Adult Children.

Journal Name
Journal of marriage and the family
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
White, Lynn.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
Data on matched triads of 428 biological mothers, their husbands, and a young adult child interviewed in the second wave of the National Survey of Families and Households are used to examine affective relationships from the perspective of both parent and child. The analysis examines the ways each dyadic relationship depends on relationships with the third member of the triad and whether these processes operate differently for mothers and fathers, for fathers and stepfathers, for daughters and sons. Results show that parents' affect is related significantly to marital quality and the partner's relationship with the child. Children's affect for mothers and for fathers is related to their feelings toward the other parent but not to their parents' marital quality. An important exception is that the child's warmth toward the father is related to the mother's marital warmth. Overall, gender effects are minor, and mothers and fathers are embedded similarly in the family affective system. Stepfathers and stepchildren report significantly lower levels of warmth toward one another than biological father-child dyads, but these relationships are not more dependent on the mother than in biological families. The mother's relationship with the child is, however, more independent of her partner when that partner is not the child's biological father. (Author abstract).

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