Gray divorce and parent–child disconnectedness: Implications for depressive symptoms

TitleGray divorce and parent–child disconnectedness: Implications for depressive symptoms
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsLin, I-F, Brown, SL, Mellencamp, KA
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Keywordsaging; cohabitation; divorce; gender; parent–child relationships; remarriage

Objective: Drawing on the divorce-stress-adjustment framework, the authors assessed whether parent–adult child relationship dynamics, including disconnectedness from an adult child, exacerbates the negative impact of gray divorce on parental well-being. Background: Divorce after age 50 is increasingly common but the role of parent–child relationships in parents' adjustment to gray divorce is largely unknown. Method: Using panel data from 1998 to 2018 Health and Retirement Study in the US, the authors estimated growth curve models to track depressive symptoms prior to, during, and after gray divorce among 930 gray divorced individuals. The authors examined whether the lack of any contact with an adult child in the past 12 months (i.e., parent–child disconnectedness) was associated with depressive symptoms trajectories surrounding divorce and subsequent repartnering. Results: Having no contact with at least one adult child aggravated the negative effect of divorce on parent's mental health. This association was robust for mothers and fathers. Having no contact with at least one child, however, did not diminish the temporarily positive effect of subsequent repartnering on mental health. Conclusion: The study contributes to the literature by showing that parent–child disconnectedness adds another blow to parents who are convalescing from divorce. © 2023 The Authors. Journal of Marriage and Family published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations.

Citation KeyLin2023