Some kids continue to be their parents’ pride and joy for years after they’ve flown the nest. But the pleasure parents can experience from a grown child’s success cuts both ways, new research suggests.
When adult children divorce, struggle financially, abuse drugs, or have similar life problems, it can have a major impact on their parents’ mental health and satisfaction, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, in San Diego. And having other, successful offspring isn’t enough to counteract the distress caused by just one struggling child, the researchers found.
“Close relationships have a big effect on both psychological and physical well-being,” says Karen Fingerman, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a gerontologist at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana.
“Grown kids aren’t just any relationship,” Fingerman adds. “People have a very strong investment in their kids, particularly in midlife, when they’ve just finished raising them.”