Intergenerational relations across 4 years: well-being is affected by quality, not by support exchange

E.M. Merz, C. Schuengel, H. Schulze

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Providing support to an aging parent may pose challenges to adult children but also provide an opportunity to "give back" to loved ones. The current study investigated changes in emotional and instrumental support and quality across a period of 4 years. Additionally, associations between intergenerational support and well-being in adult children over time were investigated. Design and Methods: Data from the first and second waves of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (N = 6,062) were analyzed to investigate the relative importance of relationship quality and support exchange and to test the potential buffering role of relationship quality for effects of the changing balance of support on well-being. Results: It was found that provision of instrumental and emotional support to parents increased during a period of 4 years. At the same time, instrumental support children received from parents decreased, whereas emotional support from parents increased. Intergenerational support exchange between children and parents was not associated with well-being in children, whereas the quality of the intergenerational relationship strongly predicted their well-being. Implications: Decreasing relationship quality seems a greater threat to the well-being of caregiving children than increased support and care tasks. Family counseling and public awareness to address this decline in intergenerational relationship quality may be important for well-being of families. © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-548
Number of pages13
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number4
Early online date2 Jun 2009
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

Bibliographical note

DA - 20090714 LA - eng JT - The Gerontologist


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