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J Youth Adolesc. 2019 Jan;48(1):145-153. doi: 10.1007/s10964-018-0912-8. Epub 2018 Aug 21.

Parent-Child Conflict during Elementary School as a Longitudinal Predictor of Sense of Purpose in Emerging Adulthood.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA. Patrick.Hill@wustl.edu.
2
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.
3
Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR, USA.

Abstract

Having a sense of purpose is viewed as a benchmark of adaptive development. Though adolescence and emerging adulthood are viewed as central periods for the development of a purpose, work still is needed to understand the childhood factors that influence this developmental process. The current study provides an initial investigation into whether parent-child conflict during elementary school predicts later sense of purpose, assessed during emerging adulthood (mean age: 21.01 years; range: 19.97-23.53). The sample included 1074 students (50% female), and their parents, who both reported on their levels of parent-child conflict during grades 1-5. Higher levels of parent-child conflict were associated with lower levels of purpose in emerging adulthood. Moreover, the study examined whether these effects remained when predicting the variance unique to purpose while accounting for other indicators of well-being in emerging adulthood. Bi-factor models demonstrated that the child's perception of mother-child conflict has a unique prospective effect on purpose in emerging adulthood, above and beyond its negative association with general well-being. The findings are discussed with respect to how positive parent-child relationships may prove important for starting youth on the path to purpose.

KEYWORDS:

Childhood; Emerging adulthood; Parent-child conflict; Purpose in life; Well-being

PMID:
30132103
DOI:
10.1007/s10964-018-0912-8

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