Intergenerational dynamics of adult offspring living in the parental home

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to contribute to a base of information about adult offspring who reside in the parental home, with particular emphasis on intergenerational relationships. The variables investigated included intimacy with parents, individuation from family of origin, triangulation, intimidation, and personal authority. These were selected to provide a theoretical basis for an understanding of the relational dynamics within the parent-adult child household and of differentiation of the adult offspring in the study.

Sixty-six adults living in their parents' homes participated in the study. Each completed five subscales from the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire(PAFS-Q) and a demographic questionnaire.

Demographic results indicated that moving home after a separation or divorce was not prevalent, even to receive assistance with child care. A greater proportion of females than males lived at home during the ages of 22-29, with proportions of females growing smaller until the ages of 40- 45, when the ratio became 50-50. Fewer than half of the respondents paid for rent and household expenses regularly, even with over 80% employed full time and over 68% earning $10,000.00 or more annually.

Multivariate analyses revealed that these adult children reported significant degrees of intimacy and personal authority under conditions of satisfaction with the living arrangement, as well as significant levels of fusion in conjunction with both satisfaction and age being over forty. Intimidation was significantly less with those who have resided at home two to seven years, and greater with those who have lived in the home only one year.