This study examined the association between adult children's achievements and ageing parents’ depressive symptoms in China. The research topic was examined within the contexts of one-child and multiple-children families in rural and urban China. Older adults (aged 60–113, N = 8,450; nested within 462 communities/villages) from the 2013 China Longitudinal Ageing Social Survey provided information about themselves and their adult children (N = 22,738). Adult children's achievements were assessed with educational attainment, financial status and occupational status; older parents’ depressive symptoms were assessed with nine items of the Chinese version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Multilevel linear regression models were estimated separately for older parents with one child only and multiple children. For older parents with multiple children, both having one or more children with any achievement and the total number of children's achievements were associated with fewer depressive symptoms. For parents with only one child, any achievement of the child and the total number of the child's achievements were associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Our results also indicated that the association between children's achievements and parents’ depressive symptoms varied by rural–urban residence and family type. Our findings contributed to the understanding of family dynamics underlying the emotional wellbeing of older adults in China.