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Within and between family associations in attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions in the parent-adult offspring relationship

by Cichy, Kelly E.

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation explores the extent to which parents and offspring influence one another when both parties are in adulthood. Using data from The Adult Family Study, the following three papers examine in adulthood constructs previously studied in childhood and adolescence. Participants included 158 African American and European American men and women (aged 22 to 49 years), their mothers, and their fathers (N = 474). Parents and offspring participated in separate telephone interviews as well as in-person videotaped joint interviews. The first paper examines generational differences in gender attitudes between parents and offspring, including the extent to which generational differences vary by offspring gender or ethnicity. As expected, adult offspring were less traditional in their gender attitudes than parents, although there were greater generational differences in attitudes between mothers and daughters and in European American families. The second paper explores generational and gender differences in demand, withdraw, and dominant behaviors observed between adults and their parents during videotaped discussions. Offspring were videotaped separately with their mothers and fathers discussing what annoys them about each other and independent raters coded the videotapes for demand, withdraw, and dominant behaviors. As expected, offspring withdrew more than both their parents. Mothers were more demanding and dominating compared to fathers and daughters were more dominating than sons. Observed behaviors were also associated with self-reported relationship quality and well-being. Offspring and parents who demanded more also described their relationships as more negative. Offspring with more dominating fathers and mothers with more demanding offspring also reported greater psychological distress. The third paper explores whether parents' and offspring's well-being is more strongly associated with their selfperceptions or with their parents'/offspring's perceptions of their achievements. Participants evaluated their own and the other party's vocational and relational success. In general, parents iv described their offspring as more successful than offspring described themselves. Offspring's and mothers' well-being was associated not only with their own self-perceptions, but with the other person's perceptions of their achievements. Together, these studies suggest parents and offspring continue to influence one another in adulthood, even after offspring have left the parental home and entered adult roles. Further, these papers highlight the importance of obtaining multiple perspectives from within the same family by identifying gender and generational differences in attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions. Finally, these studies indicate that experiences in the parent-adult offspring tie hold relational and psychological implications not only for aging parents, but also for their grown offspring. v
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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