Capturing Between-and Within-Family Differences in Parental Support to Adult Children: A Typology Approach

Objectives. Families differ widely in the support they provide to adult offspring, both with regard to the overall level as well as the extent to which support is evenly distributed across offspring. This study addressed these dynamics by creating family profiles based on the average level and differentiation of support among children. We also examined demographic and psychological factors that predict typology membership.Method. We utilized data from 431 middle-aged parents (aged 40–60) with at least two adult children. Parents provided separate ratings of support given to each child. Latent profile analysis was applied to two indicators of within-family support: mean level and differentiation among offspring.Results. Latent profile analysis identified four patterns of parental support: (a) high support–low differentiation (52%), (b) medium support–high differentiation (26%), (c) low support–low differentiation (17%), and (d) low support–very high differentiation (5%). These patterns reflected distinct family characteristics, such as parental resources, parental beliefs (i.e., equal treatment, obligation), and offspring characteristics.Discussion. Our findings emphasize the need to capture dynamics of support exchanges among multiple offspring at the level of family.