Grown-up problems stress parents

Sydney Morning Herald August 13, 2010

THE well-being of middle-aged parents appears to be linked to the successes and failures of their adult children, research shows. And even having a high-achieving adult child does not make up for the stress of having one with problems. However, US researchers found that if parents had more than one highly successful child those children could make up for the depressive feelings and worry experienced when their other adult child is having trouble. “It may be true that parents are only as happy as their least happy child,” said study leader and psychology professor Karen Fingerman, of Purdue University in Indiana. Professor Fingerman, who presented her findings at the American Psychological Association convention overnight, studied more than 630 parents whose children were aged mostly between 18 and 33 years old.

Just over 68 per cent of the parents reported having at least one grown child that had suffered a physical, emotional, lifestyle or behavioural problem in the past two years, including a serious health problem or injury, psychological problems, or financial or relationship difficulties. Nearly half reported having at least one adult child who was more successful than average for people their age. President of the Australian Psychological Society, Bob Montgomery, said parents often believed it was their job to solve their children’s problems and protect them from threats.