2015 › Trails



Romantic relationships: Parent-child positivity and romantic relationships in emerging adulthood – Congruence, compensation, and the role of social skills

Authors: Kretschmer T, Vollebergh WAM, Oldehinkel AJ

Romantic relationship quality in adolescence and early adulthood has often been linked to earlier parent–child relationship quality but it is possible that these links are nonlinear. Moreover, the role of social skills as mediator of associations between parent–child and romantic relations has been discussed but not rigorously tested. Using data from 2,230 participants of the longitudinal TRAILS (TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey) sample, this study examined whether parent–child positivity assessed at age 11 predicted romantic involvement, commitment and satisfaction in emerging adulthood. Moreover, indirect effects via cooperation, assertion and self-control were tested. Parent–child positivity did not predict romantic involvement as such. However, in those who were romantically involved, linear and, by trend, nonlinear associations between parent–child positivity and commitment were found, suggesting higher levels of commitment in those who had reported positive parent–child relationships but also in individuals with particularly low levels of parent–child positivity. Satisfaction was linearly linked to parent–child positivity. Little support was found for the assumption that the association between parent–child positivity and romantic relationship quality in emerging adulthood are partly explained by social skills. These results show that neither congruence nor compensation alone are sufficient to explain the associations between parent–child and romantic relationship quality.