- The long reach of childhood. Childhood experiences influence close relationships and loneliness across life
- Advances in Life Course Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
This paper intends to gain insight into the role of childhood relationships and experiences within the parental home for the formation and meaning of later family relationships and loneliness. Particularly, childhood attachment to mother and father and stressful childhood experiences were studied in their association with satisfaction in the romantic relationship, the quality of adult family ties and the perceived quality of the social network, i.e. loneliness in adulthood. Based on data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (N = 3980) structural equation models were estimated to predict adult relationships and loneliness with childhood experiences. Positive attachment experiences with parents, such as reliability, closeness and supportiveness during childhood were associated with greater satisfaction in the romantic relationship, stronger family ties and less loneliness, whereas stressful childhood experiences, such as conflicts and violence negatively predicted the quality of adult relationships. Life span theoretical perspectives, such as attachment theory are discussed as useful unifying framework to study social relationships, their interconnectedness and association with outcome during all phases of life.
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