What was your childhood like?
It’s a classic question explored in therapy for a reason: Our earliest life experiences contribute to so much of our personalities, behaviors, personal beliefs, what we’re like in relationships, and more. Take, for example, a new study published today in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, which found that the nature of our family relationships growing up might affect our mental health later in life as adults.
Social scientists Ping Chen, Ph.D., and Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ph.D., studied data on over 18,000 people collected through the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a multiyear study tracking thousands of young people’s well-being between 1994 and 2017. The participants were between ages 12 and 21 when the study first began and were between ages 32 and 42 at the last check-in. The researchers found having positive family relationships during adolescence were associated with a lower risk of depression later in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
What qualifies as a positive family relationship? There were four specific factors: