The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 61:P152-P160 (2006)
© 2006 The Gerontological Society of America
Ambivalent Reactions in the Parent and Offspring Relationship
Karen L. Fingerman,
Kelly E. Cichy and
Eva S. Lefkowitz
1 Child Development and Family Studies, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
2 Department of Sociology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
3 Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville.
4 Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
Theory suggests that aging parents and their adult children experience ambivalence (conflicting emotions) as a result of unclear norms governing the tie between them. This study investigated personality differences and relationship context differences in ambivalence, as well as the reactions of parents and offspring to each other. As part of the Adult Family Study, 474 individuals from 158 family triads consisting of a mother, father, and son or daughter aged 22 to 49 years completed telephone interviews, in-person interviews, and questionnaires. Multilevel models revealed that poor parental health and neuroticism in parents and offspring were associated with greater ambivalence. Surprisingly, investment in competing roles was associated with less ambivalence. Parents also experienced greater ambivalence when offspring scored higher on neuroticism, rated the parent as less important, or were less invested in their own spousal role. Parents' characteristics were not associated with offspring's ambivalence. Parents appear to react to their children's personality and achievements even after children are grown.
Copyright © 2006 by The Gerontological Society of America.