Childhood abuse and family obligation in middle adulthood: findings from the MIDUS II National Survey

Elizabeth Oshrin Parker, Candice Maier, Armeda Wojciak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study examined associations between reported histories of childhood abuse and later reports of obligation towards their family of origin from a family life cycle perspective. Data from this study included a subsample of 725 single and married, English-speaking adult participants (57.1% female, M age = 49.8 years) from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS II): Biomarker Project. Findings suggest that childhood abuse impacts later family obligation in many ways, and that different categories of abuse (e.g. emotional, neglect, physical and sexual) and severity levels (e.g. none, less severe, more severe) differ in their impacts on adults’ reports of obligation to their families. Implications for future research and clinical practice are suggested. Practitioner points: Clinicians should be aware that different categories of childhood abuse may have unique effects on clients' feelings of obligation towards their families later in life The intersection between severity of childhood abuse and category of childhood abuse is important to explore in therapy due to nuanced effects on feelings of family obligation later in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-141
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Family Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice


  • childhood abuse
  • family life cycle
  • family obligation
  • middle adulthood


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