The influence of family structure on the contact between older parents and their adult biological children and stepchildren in the Netherlands

S. van der Pas, T.G. van Tilburg

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    Abstract

    Objectives. This article examines the effect that family structure has on the contact between older adults and their (step)children. A comparison is made among 3 family structures: biological families, complex stepfamilies, and simple stepfamilies. Methods. The sample consists of respondents aged 55 years or older from the "Living Arrangements and Social Networks of Older Adults in the Netherlands" survey of 1992. The contact between biological relationships and steprelationships is measured by means of 2 items: contact frequency and whether contact is perceived as regular and important. Results. Parents have less contact with their biological children in stepfamilies compared with parents with their children in biological families. The contact with biological children is perceived as more often regular and important in biological families and complex stepfamilies compared with simple stepfamilies. No difference was found in the contact between stepparents and stepchildren in simple and complex stepfamilies. However, the contact with stepchildren is perceived as more often regular and important in simple stepfamilies in comparison to complex stepfamilies. Discussion. It is not so much the difference between biological children and stepchildren that counts when studying the contact between (step)parents and (step)children, as what the structure of the aging (step)family is.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)236-245
    Number of pages10
    JournalThe Journals of Gerontology. Series B : Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
    Volume65B
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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