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Playing favorites: Parents still involved after children are grown
Date:12/7/2009

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Middle-aged parents are more involved in their grown children's lives than ever, according to new research from Purdue University.

"We found that middle-aged parents help each of their grown children with many types of support at least every few weeks," said Karen Fingerman, the Berner-Hanley Professor in Gerontology, Developmental and Family Studies. "This is a dramatic increase from 20 years ago, when young adults received much less support from their parents."

Not all grown children get the same support, and which children parents help most may surprise some people, Fingerman said. Most people expect parents to help their youngest child or one that is struggling, but the family studies expert found that parents also are more eager to help the child they consider most successful.

"No matter which adult child receives the most support, today's parents are helping each child with significant forms of support every few weeks," Fingerman said. "We've heard a lot about helicopter parents this decade, and often the comments are negative. Parents are giving a considerable amount of help to grown children, and they play a critical role in helping young adults make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

"It's a complicated world today. An 18-year-old just can't strike out on their own to make it like they did 100 years ago. We're beyond the time when the average young person could start a career by working with their hands, and then start a little business that would support them and their family. Today's trajectory to success requires a lot of skill and training, which comes at a cost in terms of money, time and emotional investment. Parents help with all of that."

Fingerman also said it can be more difficult for young adults to find life partners today, and many of them are postponing marriage until they are older. As a result, these adult-children still benefit from parental emotional and so
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Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert
apatterson@purdue.edu
765-494-9723
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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