Adolescent Family Context
Mother–child closeness is based on a single question about how the mother would describe her relationship with the focal child, with response choices ranging from 1 = very poor to 7 = excellent at NSFH1 and 0 = really bad to 10 = absolutely perfect at NSFH2. We rescaled items to range from 1 to 7 for comparability across waves.
Mother’s time with children (all children in the household, including the focal child) is an average of four items about how often she spends time with children in leisure activities away from home, at home working on a project or playing together, having private talks, or helping with reading or homework, with responses ranging from 1 = never or rarely to 6 = almost every day.
Mother’s harsh parenting is constructed from questions about how often she yells at or spanks or slaps her children. The wording of questions and the referent differ across waves, but are comparable. At NSFH1, mothers are asked two questions about yelling and spanking/slapping her children. Response alternatives range from 1 = never to 4 = very often and are averaged across items. At NSFH2, questions refer specifically to the focal child. Mothers are asked two questions about how often they yell at the child and spank/slap the child when the focal child does something especially bad. They are asked a third question about how they try to influence the focal child’s behavior, including how often they yell or shout. Responses to the three items range from 1 = never to 5 = always and are averaged. We rescaled items to range from 1 to 4 for comparability across waves.
Family structure and conflict combines measures of parental conflict and marital histories. For conflict, we use couples’ responses to six items concerning frequency of disagreements about: household tasks, money, spending time together, sex, in-laws, and the children. We average all valid responses from mothers and fathers to these six items. We categorize continuously married-parent families by grouping the distribution of average conflict scores into thirds, corresponding to low, medium, and high average conflict. We then distinguish five family types: low-, medium-, and high-conflict continuously married-parent families, stepfather families, and single-mother families.
Mother’s education is coded as highest level of education prior to the focal child’s birth and categorized as less than high school, high school graduate, some college, and college or more.
Family income includes all sources of income to family members in the past year. It is adjusted to constant 1992 dollars and modeled as the natural log.
Young Adult Parent–Child Relationships and Young Adult Education
Mother–child closeness is based on a single question asked of young adult children: “Taking things all together, on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is really bad and 10 is absolutely perfect, how would you describe your relationship with your mother?”
Mother–child time together is based on a single question asked of young adult children: “Over the last 3 months, about how often have you spent time with your mother in leisure activities, working on something together, or just having private talks? Would you say: not at all, less than once a month, 1–3 times a month, about once a week, or more than once a week?” The metric ranges from 1 to 5.
Mother–child disagreements are captured using a single question asked of young adult children: “During the last 3 months, how often did you argue or fight or have a lot of difficulty with your mother? Was it: not at all, less than once a month, 1–3 times a month, about once a week, or more than once a week?” The metric ranges from 1 to 5.
Young adult educational attainment is coded as less than high school, high school graduate, some college, and college graduate or more.
Constellations of parental relationship quality are measured by considering children’s relationships with mothers and fathers. Children are asked the same question regarding their closeness with each parent (see question for mother–child closeness described above). Relationships scoring an eight or higher are coded as “close.” We then cross-tabulate mother and father closeness for a four-type classification of close relationships with: both parents, mother only, father only, or neither parent.
Well-Being in Young Adulthood
Subjective well-being is measured with a single question asked of young adult respondents: “Taking all things together, on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means really bad and 10 means absolutely perfect, how would you say things are for you these days?”
Life satisfaction is measured with eight items asked of young adult respondents: “Tell me how satisfied you are with each of the following things. Give me a number from 0 to 10, where 0 means extremely dissatisfied and 10 means extremely satisfied.” The domains covered are: school, career, financial situation, leisure time, friendships, health, love life, and physical appearance. We average responses for a range of 0–10.