Ambivalence in the Relationship of Adult Children to Aging Parents and In-Laws

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Abstract

The concept of ambivalence emphasizes the complexity of family relations and the potential for individuals to evaluate relationships as both positive and negative. Using multilevel models, we investigate ambivalence in adult children's relationships with their aging parents and in-laws (N= 1,599). We focus on factors predicting adult children's ambivalence toward parents and in-laws within a gendered kinship structure that shapes these relations. We conclude that ambivalence is a useful concept for representing the complexity of parent-child relationships and is produced within the context of social relations structured by gender and kinship. Results show greater ambivalence among dyads of women, toward in-laws, among those in poor health, for daughters providing assistance, and for adult children with poor parental relations in early life.

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