Till Marriage Do Us Part: Adult Children’s Relationships With Their Parents


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    Department of Sociology and SADRI, Machmer Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003.

Department of Sociology, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 (natalia@sarkisian.net).


Although some emphasize the integrative character of marriage, others argue that marriage undermines relations with extended kin, including aging parents. Utilizing NSFH data (N= 6,108), we find that married women and men have less intense intergenerational ties than the never married and the divorced: The married are less likely to live with parents, stay in touch, and give or receive emotional, financial, and practical help. These differences hold even when we control for structural characteristics, including time demands, needs and resources, and demographic and extended family characteristics. We conclude that marriage is a greedy institution for both women and men. Given the inadequacy of structural explanations, we suggest that cultural explanations for this greediness should be explored.