“Put Your Money Where Your Love Is”: Parental Aid to Adult Children
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Qualitative data are used to examine parents’ support to their adult children, and their motivations and feelings about it. The sample is 40 adult children and parents from four racial/ethnic groups: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, non-Latino Whites, and Latinos. Ideals of adult independence versus interdependence emerge as determinants of feelings about aiding adult children. The ambivalence concept provides the means to elucidate the tensions between these ideologies and children’s structurally shaped circumstances. Parental assistance to adult children was seen as acceptable for education, home ownership, and on behalf of young children, especially if the child was “working hard.” Parents still provided aid, however, even if these conditions were not met. In these situations, more intrafamilial tension characterized the aid transfer.
KeywordsCulture/race/ethnicity Families in middle and later life Intergenerational transfers Qualitative research
I wish to thank all who provided feedback and thoughtful comments on this manuscript: Preston Britner, Fabienne Doucet, Brent Gibson, and Shannon Weaver. I am also grateful to the people who helped me conduct the fieldwork and analyze the results: Allisson Banegas, Laurel Cameron, Jodie Comer, Autumn Kelly, Valerie Knight, Gareth Mann, Loretta Moore, Tykeia Robinson, Misha Suksnguan, and Alejandro Trejo. The funds for this study were provided by the National Science Foundation (Dissertation Improvement Grant #9708534) and the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies. The University of Connecticut provided additional funds that assisted with manuscript preparation.
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