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Capturing the Complexity of Intergenerational Relations: Exploring Ambivalence within Later-Life Families
Journal of Social Issues (2007)
  • Myra Sabir, Binghamton University--SUNY
This article reports on a study that incorporates two dimensions of complexity in intergenerational relations. First, the article focuses on ambivalence: the simultaneous existence of positive and negative sentiments in the older parent–adult child relationship. Second, the research described here applies a within-family design to the study of ambivalence, using a data set that includes 566 older mothers' assessments of ambivalence toward all of their adult children. The findings provide general support for our conceptual approach to parental ambivalence that highlights conflict between norms regarding solidarity with children and expectations that adult children should become independent. Lower ambivalence was related to an adult child's being married. Children's problems were positively associated with ambivalence, as was the mother's perception that exchange in the relationship was inequitable in the child's favor. Mother's health status and her perception that she and the child shared the same values were negatively associated with ambivalence. Finally, Black mothers reported higher levels of ambivalence than did White mothers, but the multivariate models explaining ambivalence did not vary by race.
  • parent-adult child relationship,
  • parental ambivalence
Publication Date
November 28, 2007
Publisher Statement
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Citation Information
Pillemer, K., Suitor, J. J., Mock, S. E., Sabir, M., Pardo, T. B., & Sechrist, J. (2007). Capturing the complexity of intergenerational relations: Exploring ambivalence within later‐life families. Journal of Social Issues, 63(4), 775-791.