Publications

Intergenerational relationship quality across three generations

Objectives. Studies of intergenerational relationship quality often include one or two generations. This study examined within-family differences and similarities or transmission of positive and negative relationship quality across three generations. Method. Participants included 633 middle-aged individuals (G2; 52% women, ages 40-60 years), 592 of their offspring (G3; 53% daughters; ages 18-41 years), and 337 of their parents (i.e., grandparents; G1; 69% women; ages 59-96 years). RESULTS: Multilevel models revealed differences and similarities in relationship quality across generations. The oldest generation (G1) reported greater positive and less negative quality relationships than the middle (G2) and the younger (G3) generations. There was limited evidence of transmission. Middle-aged respondents who reported more positive and less negative ties with their parents (G1) reported more positive and less negative ties with their own children (G3). Grandmother (G1) reports of more positive relationship quality were associated with G3 reports of more positive relationship quality with G2. Discussion. Findings are consistent with the intergenerational stake hypothesis and only partially consistent with the theory of intergenerational transmission. Overall, this study suggests that there is greater within-family variability than similarities in how family members feel about one another.