Safety Nets and Scaffolds: Parental Support in the Transition to Adulthood


University of Minnesota Department of Sociology, 267 19th Ave S., Social Sciences Building 909, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (


Using longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study (analytic sample N = 712), we investigate how age, adult role acquisition and attainments, family resources, parent–child relationship quality, school attendance, and life events influence support received from parents in young adulthood. Parental assistance was found to be less forthcoming for those who had made greater progress on the road to adulthood, signified by socioeconomic attainment and union formation. The quality of mother–child and father–child relationships affected parental support in different ways, positively for mothers, negatively for fathers. School enrollment, negative life events, and employment problems were associated with a greater likelihood of receiving support. The findings suggest that parents act as “scaffolding” and “safety nets” to aid their children's successful transition to adulthood.