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Letting go or holding on? Parents' perceptions of their relationships with their children during emerging adulthood


Correspondence should be addressed to Professor Marion Kloep, Department of Psychology, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd CF371DL, UK (e-mail:


This qualitative interview study explored and examined the transitions surrounding emerging adulthood within the family from the parents' perspective. Interviews conducted with a purposive sample of parents (N = 59) revealed the perceived difficulties parents have in ‘letting go’ of their grown-up children, and in acknowledging their developing autonomy; and demonstrated a range of perceived parental strategies in response to young people's growing independence. The significance of these intertwined elements of perceived dependency, emotional tensions, and interactive behaviours for relationships in the family, and the implications for ‘emerging adulthood’, was discussed.