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Keywords:

  • ambivalence;
  • families in middle and later life;
  • intergenerational relations;
  • parent – child relations

The authors examined how ambivalence toward adult children within the same family differs between mothers and fathers and whether patterns of maternal and paternal ambivalence can be explained by the same set of predictors. Using data collected in the Within-Family Differences Study, they compared older married mothers' and fathers' (N = 129) assessments of ambivalence toward each of their adult children (N = 444). Fathers reported higher levels of ambivalence overall. Both mothers and fathers reported lower ambivalence toward children who were married, better educated, and who they perceived to hold similar values; however, the effects of marital status and education were more pronounced for fathers, whereas the effect of children's value congruence was more pronounced for mothers. Fathers reported lower ambivalence toward daughters than sons, whereas mothers reported less ambivalence toward sons than daughters.