Date of Award

Spring 2005

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Victoria Banyard


This study takes an ecological approach to the examination of developmental status of adults in middle adulthood, with a focus on parents of adolescents, investigating adults' developmental statuses with respect to their children's development. Hypotheses predicted ecological variables would related with middle adult development, defined in terms of generativity, identity certainty, and identity concern. Children's development, social support, stress, personality, well-being, and background variables were investigated in analyses. It was further hypothesized that social support and stress would mediate the relation between child and adult development.

The sample for the present study was composed of 126 parents-child pairs. Parents were 31 to 61 years old (M = 45.50), and their children were 11 to 17 years old (M = 14.2). Regressions were performed for each ecological variable on each parent developmental variable. Children's psychosocial development predicted variability in parent generativity and identity concern; child age and pubertal status did not. Identity certainty was not predicted by child variables. Social support was consistently related with each measure of developmental status. Different social support types predicted each adult development variable. Stress was generally related with parents' developmental status, but perceived and parenting stress variables were responsible for most of the predictive ability of stress in development. Extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness each predicted variability in generativity; neuroticism and conscientiousness each predicted variability in identity certainty and midlife identity concerns.

A larger regression including all ecological variables showed that social support and the openness and agreeableness factors of personality were each responsible for variance in generativity when all variables were entered in the same equation. Life satisfaction and conscientiousness predicted variability in identity certainty, and children's psychosocial development, life satisfaction, and conscientiousness each were responsible for variance in identity concerns.

Structural equation modeling (SEM) also showed that child development and parents' developmental status were related. Evidence for the role of social support as a mediator between the relationship of child to adult development was supported, but the model did not fit the data well. Other models of mediation were not supported.