Where is the exit? Intergenerational ambivalence and relationship quality in high contact ties.

R.I.A. van Gaalen, P.A. Dykstra, A.E. Komter

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We challenge the common idea that solidarity has positive, whereas conflict has negative implications, by investigating intergenerational ambivalence – defined as the co-occurrence of solidarity and conflict – and relationship quality. We use representative data on non-coresident adult children and parents with high levels of contact (weekly or more; N=2,694 dyads). Results show that over half of high contact parent–child ties can be characterized as ambivalent and of high-quality. The likelihood of negative instead of positive ambivalent ties is greater if adult children have few exit options because they are socially isolated or have a small number of siblings. Ties between fathers and sons, and those between caring daughters and aging parents also have a high probability of belonging to the negative ambivalent type.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Ambivalence
  • Latent class analysis
  • Relationship quality
  • Typology of parent–child relationships

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