Changes in childhood caregiving impressions among middle-aged and older adults

William J. Chopik, Jeewon Oh, Sneha R. Challa, Hannah L. Hua, Julia M. Maahs, Jacqui Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Childhood experiences and impressions are important for individuals' health and well-being—they often set the stage for how people approach relationships across the lifespan and how they make sense of their relational worlds. However, impressions of these experiences are likely not static and can change over time, even years after these experiences happened. The current study examined how impressions of parental relationships in childhood changed over time, and predictors of these changes, among middle-aged and older adults followed over a 4-year period (N = 2692; Mage = 66.67, SD = 9.15; 64.1% women). Childhood impressions of parental care were mostly stable over time, with 53.5%–65.0% of participants reporting consistent impressions. Becoming divorced/separated as an adult was associated with more negative impressions about relationships with fathers in the past. Having a mother pass away was associated with more positive impressions of mothers' caregiving when participants were children. Higher depressive symptoms at follow-up were associated with darker perceptions of the past—more negative impressions of mothers and fathers as caregivers. The current study is one of the most comprehensive studies of late-life changes in childhood impressions to date, suggesting future directions for studying the organization of relational experiences and recollection over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-938
Number of pages26
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Health and Retirement Study
  • caregiving impressions
  • divorce/separation
  • life span development
  • reminiscence bump

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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