Transitions in Relationships with Older Parents: From Middle to Later Years

Martijn J.A. Hogerbrugge, Merril D. Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objective. Although intergenerational relationships have been extensively examined, studies applying dynamic multidimensional treatments are rare. Employing the life course framework and the intergenerational solidarity and ambivalence paradigms, a typology of intergenerational relationships was derived and propositions about dynamics of intergenerational relationships were tested. Method. Using latent transition analysis, we modeled 4 waves of panel data spanning 18 years from the Longitudinal Study of Generations to examine how older parent-child relationships (N = 938) transitioned in and out of complex relational configurations. Results. We derived 5 relationship types roughly corresponding to those found in earlier research. Transitions in relationship type occurred mostly when both generations were relatively young, and along the lines of what attachment, ambivalence, and latent kinship theories would predict. When change did occur, it was primarily structured by factors affecting the availability of adult children, as well as circumstances that elevated the dependency of older parents and promoted both positive and negative reactivity in their adult children. Discussion. This study has demonstrated how typological analysis captures both the complexities and dynamics of intergenerational relationships in mature families. By including behavioral, emotional, and normative aspects of later life intergenerational relationships, we told a story that was more about continuity than change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-495
Number of pages15
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Intergenerational relations
  • Latent transition analysis
  • Longitudinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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