Young Adults’ Provision of Support to Middle-Aged Parents

Objectives. Middle-aged adults often provide support to aging parents, but researchers know little about support that young adults provide middle-aged parents. This study examined support that young adults provide parents and explanations for that support from both offspring’s and parents’ perspectives.Method. Young adults (n = 515, mean age = 22.34) and their parents (n = 364, mean age = 50.09) from the Family Exchanges Study reported support that offspring provide parents. Participants also reported parental personal problems, parental disability status, relationship quality, and support that parents provide offspring.Results. Offspring provided parents with emotional support and listening more often than other forms of support. Offspring reported providing more frequent support than parents reported receiving. We examined factors associated with support using multilevel models. Both offspring and parents reported more frequent support provided to parents when they had higher quality relationships and when parents gave more frequent support to offspring. Offspring (but not parents) reported providing more frequent support to parents when parents were disabled.Discussion. Findings are consistent with solidarity theory, which suggests that high-quality relationships may explain support. The concept of self-enhancement and generativity in middle-aged parents may explain the intergenerational differences in the association between parental disability and support.