Publications

Without the ties that bind: U.S. young adults who lack active parental relationships

Parents are an important source of affection and support for young adults in the U.S., so those who lack parental relationships are a potentially vulnerable group. This study outlines how common it is for young adults to report lacking an active parental tie and provides a portrait of these young adults. Analysis of the 2008ñ2009 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N?=?5090) reveals that the vast majority of young adults ages 25ñ32 in the U.S. ñ 97.6% ñ have an active relationship with at least one parent figure. Only a small share of young adults lack a relationship with a mother figure (6%), due primarily to early maternal death. A larger share of young adults lack a relationship with a father figure (20%), usually because their father figure is deceased or they never had a father figure (rather than having become estranged over time). Young adults who are Black or from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to lack parental ties in young adulthood. In addition, prior events such as parental separation or incarceration are associated with an elevated likelihood of being estranged in early adulthood (though these events are rarely followed by estrangement with an existing parent figure). “