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Summary for Karl Pillemer Article

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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC246H1
Professor
William Magee

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SOC246
10. Karl Pillemer (2007)
1/6
10. Karl Pillemer (2007)
^Capturing the Complexity of Intergenerational Relations: Exploring Ambivalence within Later-Life Families_
Outline
Key Words: intergenerational relations, ambivalence, adult child- parent relationships
- This article reports on a study that incorporates two dimensions of complexity in intergenerational relations
- Focuses on ambivalence: the simultaneous existence of positive and negative sentiments in the older parent-adult child
relationship
1. Parental ambivalence that emphasizes conflict between norms regarding solidarity with children and expectations that adult
children should become independent
2. Lower ambivalence was related to an adult child being married
3. Children[s problems were positively associated with ambivalence, as was the mother[s perception that exchange in the
relationship was inequitable in the child[s favor
4. Mother[s health status and her perception that she and the child share the same values were negatively associated with
ambivalence
5. Black mothers reported higher levels of ambivalence than did white mothers
6. However, multivariate models explaining ambivalence did not vary by race
Introduction
- Focus on relations between the generations after offspring reach adulthood
- Most relationships are meaningful and supportive; but troubled relationships are common and are a significant source of
psychological distress
- This article focuses on two dimensions of complexity in intergenerational relations:
Focus on ambivalence- the simultaneous existence of both positive and negative sentiments
Focus on whether parent[s relationships with individual children within the same family (instead of between-family
designs)
As well, we explore if it varies by race
Ambivalence as an Approach to Understanding Intergenerational Complexity
- Proposed that the experience of intergenerational relations in adulthood is characteristically ambivalent- that is, it revolves
around sociological and psychological contradictions or dilemmas
- Incorporates both positive and negative elements in a single study
- Approximately 50% of the older parents in their samples reported some degree of ambivalence toward their adult children
- 28% of adult children experienced ambivalence toward elderly parents
- 29% of families were categorized as ambivalent (using a large panel study)
Further Complexity: Accounting for Multiple Relationships within the Family
www.notesolution.com
SOC246
10. Karl Pillemer (2007)
2/6
- Parent[ relationships with individual children within the same family differ
- Research in developmental psychology suggests there are differences in parent-child relations within families that develop
in earlier years- differ by both affection and disapproval
- Most studies of older parent-adult child relations do not permit an examination of all children in the same family & do not
focus on a single target child
- The relationship between a parent and any particular adult child is likely to be affected by the parent[s relationships with
other adult children in the family
- Parents favor some of their children over others in terms of closeness, confiding, preferences for support and provision of
support from parent to child and vice versa
- Most individuals experience some degree of mixed emotions toward their older parents or adult children
- Both adults and children are aware of the fact that individual parent-child dyads in the same family differ in terms of
relationship quality, which should be addressed empirically & have implications for public policy
Conceptual Framework for Studying Intergenerational Ambivalence
Likely sources of ambivalence:
1. Incompatible normative expectations for relationships with children produce contradictory feelings or behaviours
2. Smelser (1998), sociological perspective, individuals in society are confronted by dichotomies that are fundamentally
insoluble
Ex: autonomy versus dependence
Often, individuals find themselves in a position of striving for both poles simultaneously
3. Merton ~íõòïU^incompatible normative expectations of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour_
Proposal:
- Ambivalence is built into the structure of parent-child relationships
- Social norms and cultural values frequently require contradictory courses of action
Four characteristics of intergenerational relations that are affected by conflicting norms and may therefore generate
ambivalence:
¾ Children[s Status Attainment
- Conflict between the norm of solidarity with children & the normative expectation that children develop independent lives
- Parents experience mixed emotions when children fail to attain or maintain normative adult statuses
Ex: when children do not marry or meet parental educational expectations
¾ Dependency of Children
- Relationship quality is negatively affected when parents continue to provide their adult children with high and
unreciprocated levels of care and support
- Conflict between two norms- (1) pressure to help adult children and (2) a desire for freedom from their demands
- Prediction: mothers will report greater ambivalence toward those children who are more dependent
¾ Children[s Problems
- Problems in the child[s life are shown to have detrimental effects on the parent-child relationship
Ex: substance abuse, (nonnormative transitions) job loss & divorce
www.notesolution.com

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Description
SOC246 10. Karl Pillemer (2007) 10. Karl Pillemer (2007) ^Capturing the Complexity of Intergenerational Relations: Exploring Ambivalence within Later-Life Families_ Outline Key Words: intergenerational relations, ambivalence, adult child- parent relationships - This article reports on a study that incorporates two dimensions of complexity in intergenerational relations - Focuses on ambivalence: the simultaneous existence of positive and negative sentiments in the older parent-adult child relationship 1. Parental ambivalence that emphasizes conflict between norms regarding solidarity with children and expectations that adult children should become independent 2. Lower ambivalence was related to an adult child being married 3. Children[s problems were positively associated with ambivalence, as was the mother[s perception that exchange in the relationship was inequitable in the child[s favor 4. Mother[s health status and her perception that she and the child share the same values were negatively associated with ambivalence 5. Black mothers reported higher levels of ambivalence than did white mothers 6. However, multivariate models explaining ambivalence did not vary by race Introduction - Focus on relations between the generations after offspring reach adulthood - Most relationships are meaningful and supportive; but troubled relationships are common and are a significant source of psychological distress - This article focuses on two dimensions of complexity in intergenerational relations: Focus on ambivalence- the simultaneous existence of both positive and negative sentiments Focus on whether parent[s relationships with individual children within the same family (instead of between-family designs) As well, we explore if it varies by race Ambivalence as an Approach to Understanding Intergenerational Complexity - Proposed that the experience of intergenerational relations in adulthood is characteristically ambivalent- that is, it revolves around sociological and psychological contradictions or dilemmas - Incorporates both positive and negative elements in a single study - Approximately 50% of the older parents in their samples reported some degree of ambivalence toward their adult children - 28% of adult children experienced ambivalence toward elderly parents - 29% of families were categorized as ambivalent (using a large panel study) Further Complexity: Accounting for Multiple Relationships within the Family 16 www.notesolution.com
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