Published: April 12, 2021

Chainey, C., & Burke, K. (2021). Emerging adult wellbeing: Associations with adverse childhood experiences, parenting practices and the parent-adolescent relationship. Australian Psychologist0(0), 1–16.


Carys Chainey and Kylie Burke.


Objective: Parenting practices and the parent-offspring relationship may protect against the effects of childhood adversity; however, their influence past adolescence is unclear. This paper investigates the associations between adverse childhood experiences, parenting practices and the parent-adolescent relationship, and emerging adults’ wellbeing (positive development, emotional difficulties).

Method: A survey of 298 emerging adults aged 18-25, recruited from a university and the wider community was conducted and analysed using moderated multiple regression, controlling for demographic characteristics and recruitment method.

Results: Emerging adults’ wellbeing was associated with their past experiences of adversity, parenting practices and parent-adolescent relationship. Experiencing more types of adversity was associated with greater emotional difficulties. Independent of the level of adversity experienced, connectedness and supportive monitoring were associated with more positive development, and hostility was associated with more emotional difficulties. No parenting variables moderated the relationship between adversity and wellbeing.

Conclusions: Although emerging adults who experienced childhood adversity may have more emotional difficulties, the parenting experienced during adolescence is also an important predictor of wellbeing during emerging adulthood. Regardless of their level of adversity, adolescents may benefit from supportive monitoring and a connected, non-hostile relationship with their parent; to help them develop positive skills and emotional wellbeing into emerging adulthood.