DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): A warm, trusting, emotionally close parent-child relationship is related to better developmental outcomes of children, including higher academic functioning, less psychological distress, and lower risk-taking behavior. Thus, it is crucial to identify the factors that influence parent-child relationship quality over the course of children's
developmental stages as well as to decipher variation in parent-child relationship quality across different socio-demographic groups. Prior studies emphasize that parent-child relationship quality is largely established through parent-child interactions during early childhood and it stay fairly stable during middle childhood. Yet, there is no empirical research that examined change and stability in parent-child relationship quality from preschool to adolescence using panel data tracking the same parent-child dyads with diverse socio-demographic backgrounds. The emphasis on universal stability in parent-child relationship quality during middle childhood could be misleading because social and interpersonal environments surrounding parents and children change throughout children's developmental stages, which may affect the nature of parent-child relationship. Using uniquely rich prospective panel data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD), this project will examine trajectories of parent-child relationship quality (i.e., warmth and conflict) that are influenced by transitions and trajectorie of school, work, and family environments from preschool to adolescence. First, this project assesses how children's relationships with teachers and peers influence children's adjustment to school and, in turn, influence parent-child relationship quality from ages 4 to 15 with a specifc focus on whether the effects depend on the timing (e.g., the transition to school, middle childhood, and the transition to adolescence) and the duration of experiencing negative or positive relationship quality with teachers and peers. Second, it examines how longitudinal patterns of fathers' and mothers' employment (e.g., unemployment history, job strains) and marriage/partnership (e.g., marital history and quality) influence parental economic and psychological well-being, parenting quality, and, in turn, parent-child relationship quality. Whether the effects depend on the degree of instability, duration of living with parents with certain job or marital/partnership characteristics or timing of parental work or marital transition will be assessed. Third, this study identifies variation in trajectories of parent-child relationshp quality from ages 4 to 15 (e.g., stably high, stable low, declining, and increasing) by parental education level, a primary characteristic that affects the degree to which children experience parental job and marital instabilities. This project will move the field forward by empirically establishing trajectories of parent-child relationship quality from preschool to adolescence and their variation. Further, it will improve understanding of factors influencing parent-child relationship quality by extending beyond parenting skills or children's personality to consider the
role of children's experiences at school as well as parental work and marriage/partnership.