Stepparenthood and Depressive Symptoms in Later Life: The Mediating Role of Parent-Child Contact and Interactions.

TitleStepparenthood and Depressive Symptoms in Later Life: The Mediating Role of Parent-Child Contact and Interactions.
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsCupka, C
Academic DepartmentSociology
DegreeMaster of Arts
UniversityBowling Green State University
CityBowling Green, Ohio
Thesis TypeThesis
KeywordsAdult children, Depressive symptoms, Divorce

In the United States the share of middle-age and older adults who are stepparents has increased over the recent decades. Prior studies have shown that stepparents generally experience more depressive symptoms than parents with only biological children, but most of this literature has focused on stepparents of minor children. The few studies that have examined the relation between stepparenthood and depressive symptoms in later life find either a positive or a null association. The mixed findings could be attributable to different definitions of stepparenthood used in these studies. Individuals can become simple stepparents when they have only stepchildren or they can become complex stepparents when they have both biological children and stepchildren. To fill this gap in the literature, I used the 2008 and 2010 waves of Health and Retirement Study to examine how simple stepparents, complex stepparents, and parents with only biological children differ in their depressive symptoms, with particular attention given to the mediating roles of parent-child contact and interactions. Women and men were also analyzed separately in this study. The results showed that stepparenthood was not associated with depressive symptoms for women and men. Contact and interactions with children did not mediate the association between parental status and depressive symptoms for either men or women. Potential avenues for future stepfamily research is discussed. Advisors/Committee Members: Lin, I-Fen (Advisor).

Citation Key8988