Publications

Help With “Strings Attached”: Offspring Perceptions That Middle-Aged Parents Offer Conflicted Support.

– Objectives.Middle-aged adults often provide beneficial support to grown children. Yet, in some relationships, grown children may feel beholden or intruded upon when they receive parental help. The purpose of this study was to examine such conflicted support in relationships between middle-aged parents and young adults. METHODS: Middle-aged parents (aged 40-60, n = 399) and their grown children (n = 592) participated. Parents rated perceptions of providing support and relationship quality with each child. Grown children indicated whether their mothers and fathers provided conflicted support and rated their perceptions of parental support, relationship quality, and other factors. RESULTS: Multilevel models revealed that offspring's perceptions of conflicted support were associated with (a) parents' evaluations about providing support (e.g., greater stress and beliefs that grown children should be autonomous), (b) poorer quality relationships, and (c) offspring having more problems.Discussion.Findings suggest that perceptions of conflicted support are embedded in a larger constellation of relationship problems and underlying distress for parents and children. These patterns may reflect lifelong difficulties in the tie or that arise in adulthood. Researchers might seek to understand how dyads experiencing such conflicted support differ from more normative relationships characterized by warmth and well-received support.