Care for elders strains adult parent-child relationship

July 27th, 2010 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 27 (IANS) A new study suggest that caring for elders in a family can strain relationships, even when affection is shared.
A research led by Merril Silverstein, professor of gerontology and sociology at the University of South California, finds that long-term caretaking duties put further strain on adult parent-child relationships.

Authors of the first international comparative study of its kind, analysed levels of affection and conflict among more than 2,600 parents and children in England, Germany, Israel, Norway, Spain and the US, reports the Journal of Marriage and Family.

The authors identified key factors like affection, conflict, economic development, education, gender, number of siblings, residence situation, marital status and cultural values, according to a university release.

Silverstein explains: “Caretaking situations due to lack of welfare pose particular challenges to parent-child relationships.”

Citizens of nations with a more evolved welfare system tend to experience less conflict when faced with illness and long-term medical care situations. However, a healthy sense of interdependence can also encourage affection.

“We have found that apathy can be much more detrimental than conflict to close, personal, familial relationships. In general, older parents are more likely to report on the positive and affectionate qualities of the relationship than the child,” Silverstein said.

British participants displayed notable traits of amicability and avoidance of conflict, with an emphasis on cordialness.

Germany and Spain showed a sense of detachment towards their elders and highly valued honesty.

The US demonstrated disharmonious characteristics — children expressed more independent and individualistic thinking than their European counterparts.

Israel revealed mixed emotions towards senior members of their community, which the authors hypothesize is caused by paradoxical familial, social and political elements at work within their socio-political environment.

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