The Strength of Older Parent-Adult Child Ties in Complex Families: Evidence from Time Use Diaries
Judith Seltzer1, Robert Schoeni2, Jennifer Cornman3, Vicki Freedman2
1University of California, Los Angeles, 2University of Michigan, 3Jennifer C Cornman Consulting

Studies have concluded that family ties are weaker in complex stepfamilies than in traditional families and weaker in step parent-child than biological parent-child relationships. These conclusions typically come from analyses of only family-level or dyadic data. We reassess the strength of parent-child ties in later life using national, multilevel time diary data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.  We treat relationship quality as time spent together and examine time married parents spend with their adult children as a function of family structure and whether a particular parent-child dyad is a step or biological relationship. We find that the amount of time together depends on family structure, dyadic relationship type, and the interaction of family structure by dyad type. Time with adult children is not higher in traditional than in some types of complex families, nor is time with a child within complex families higher in biological than step relationships.