Social support during adjustment to later-life divorce: how adult children help parents
Wright, Carol Lamb
MetadataShow full item record
This study investigated the adult child's role as a provider of social support to divorced parents. Each of the 230 randomly-selected individuals participating in the survey had been divorced after 19 or more years of marriage and had at least one child over age 18. Participants ranged in age from 36 to 72 and had been married an average of 28 years prior to divorce. Respondents were asked to indicate the types and amounts of support provided by children in two major areas: instrumental aid (e.g., advice, services, financial assistance) and socioemotional aid. The pattern of support varied according to sex of the parent and the sex of the child. Mothers received significantly more support than fathers in all four categories: advice, services, financial assistance, and socioemotional aid. Sons and daughters did not differ significantly with regard to frequency of provision of advice or financial aid. However, sons provided significantly more services, and daughters provided significantly more socioemotional aid. Circumstances connected with filial provision of support--opportunity, parental expectation of aid, parental financial need, parental health and morale, competing role responsibilities of the child, and quality of the parent-child relationship--were analyzed. Multiple regression was used to specify the relationship between total support received and seven independent variables: frequency of contact, sex of respondent, emotional closeness, filial expectations, frequency of telephoning, sidetaking-behavior, and financial strain. These variables explained 52% of the variance in total support. Mothers were more likely than fathers to rank children as the most helpful source of support during the divorce process: 42.6% of mothers, as compared to 18.3% of fathers ranked children as the most helpful. Mothers ranked children higher than all other sources of support; fathers, on the other hand, ranked their friends and their parents ahead of their children with respect to support provided during the divorce period.
- Doctoral Dissertations