Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Family feud: US parents more likely to have conflict with adult children than European parents

Date:
July 26, 2010
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Tolstoy wrote that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and a new study finds significant national differences in the degree of conflict between older parents and their adult children.

Tolstoy wrote that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and a new study in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family finds significant national differences in the degree of conflict between older parents and their adult children.

Related Articles


"Given that family life has its basis in the tension between the desire for autonomy and the need for interdependence, it is not surprising that intergenerational relations -- throughout the family life cycle -- are among the most ambivalent of social relationships," said Merril Silverstein, USC professor of gerontology and sociology, and lead author of the study.

Prior research has shown that quality of life for older persons, including both mental health and physical health, depends heavily on how well older parents get along with their adult children.

To identify the social policies that might influence these relationships, Silverstein and co-authors looked at six developed countries with a range of welfare regimes and various family cultures: England, Germany, Israel, Norway, Spain and the United States.

They found that affection and conflict exist simultaneously in all countries examined, but significant differences exist in how the emotions are likely to interact.

"The simultaneous presence of affection and conflict in intergenerational relationships reflects emotional complexities that are intuitively obvious to anyone who is part of a family," Silverstein said.

Among the findings:

  • Parents in the United States and Israel were far more likely than parents in England and Germany to have negative feelings toward their adult children, according to the study.
  • However, negative emotions in Israel accompanied strong positive emotions more often than elsewhere, indicating emotional intensity and ambivalence.
  • While German parents were unlikely to have negative feelings towards their adult children, they lacked positive feelings as well, indicating overall detachment.
  • In the United States, "disharmonious" relationships -- defined as the presence of strong negative emotions without strong positive emotions -- were more than twice as likely than anywhere else studied.
  • Older parents with difficulty climbing stairs were more likely to have a disharmonious relationship with their adult children.

A plurality of respondents in every country surveyed had affectionate relationships relatively free of conflict with their adult children. In England, 75 percent of parents had "amicable" relationships with their children, compared to about half in the United States (51 percent) and Germany (49 percent).

"Parents in poorer functional health tended more to have detached and disharmonious relationships with their children, and those who received help from children tended more to have ambivalent relationships with them," Silverstein explained. "Together, the finding suggest that frailty and dependence on children introduce elements of friction and strain into intergenerational relationships."

The study used data from the Longitudinal Study of Generations (LSOG), concentrated in Southern California, and a multinational study of intergenerational relationships funded by the European Commission, OASIS. The final sample, across the six nations, was 2,698.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Silverstein et al. Older Parent-Child Relationships in Six Developed Nations: Comparisons at the Intersection of Affection and Conflict. Journal of Marriage and Family, 2010; 72 (4): 1006 DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00745.x

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Family feud: US parents more likely to have conflict with adult children than European parents." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100726094915.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2010, July 26). Family feud: US parents more likely to have conflict with adult children than European parents. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100726094915.htm
University of Southern California. "Family feud: US parents more likely to have conflict with adult children than European parents." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100726094915.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins