Determinants of the Exchange of Support between Parents and their Emerging Adult Offspring
The parent-child relationship is one of the most integral connections throughout the life course (Fingerman, Cheng, Tighe, Birditt, & Zarit, 2012). Research indicates that support readily flows back and forth within this relationship, with parents providing the majority of support when their offspring are in adolescence, and middle aged offspring providing the most when parents reach old age (Hogan, Eggebeen, & Clogg, 1993). Determinants of this supportive exchange that have been investigated include demographic factors such as age, gender, and geographical proximity (Rossi & Rossi, 1990). Substantially less research has investigated the impact of longitudinal determinants, such as the joint developmental history shared by parents and their offspring on the amount of support exchanged between them. Even less research has investigated the links between a shared developmental history and more proximal predictors of supportive exchanges such as filial motives, and their influence on actual support provision. A prediction investigated in the current study was that a positive family climate in adolescence would predict increased supportive exchanges between emerging adult children and their parents. Further, it was posited that a Western conceptualisation of filial motives would mediate the relationship between family climate and the exchange of support, and a new scale was constructed using a theoretical approach to measure this dynamic. This study employed longitudinal data from 338 participants from two time points of the Youth Connectedness Project, five years apart. Participants were aged 12-17 in 2008 at the first time point, and aged 17-23 in 2013 at the second time point. Family climate variables were measured at the first time point, whereas filial motives and the exchange of support were measured at the second time point. A confirmatory factor analysis of a newly constructed filial motives measure indicated a three factor solution of ‘interdependence’, ‘duty’ and ‘independence’. The three aspects of this new construct evidenced unique mediating relationships between family climate variables in adolescence and reported exchange of support five years later. A path analysis constructed with structural equation modelling indicated that engagement in family mutual activities and the degree to which parents granted autonomy directly predicted five years later the amount of support received from caregivers. Notably, family cohesion was the strongest indirect predictor of the provision of support to parents, and this relationship was mediated by filial motives of interdependence and duty. These results collectively support the notion of continuity throughout the life course, and emphasises the need for longitudinal research to better understand the influence of family climate in adolescence on the parent-child relationship later in the life course.