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Affection, Social Contact, and Geographic Distance between Adult Children and Their Parents

Leora Lawton, Merril Silverstein and Vern Bengtson
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 56, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 57-68
DOI: 10.2307/352701
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352701
Page Count: 12
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Affection, Social Contact, and Geographic Distance between Adult Children and Their Parents
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Abstract

This study investigates the following questions: whether greater affection between adult children and their parents leads to more social contact, whether frequent social contact leads to greater affection, or whether each of these mutually influences the other. Using nationally representative data collected in 1990 by the American Association of Retired Persons, we examine predictors of each dimension of solidarity and then estimate a causal model that tests the indirect and reciprocal influence among these dimensions. After finding a reciprocal influence between contact and affection in the mother-child relationship, but not in the father-child relationship, we conclude that the motivations for contact are different in adult-child relations with mothers compared to those with fathers. These differences are important for understanding the consequences of family disruption for intergenerational solidarity in adulthood. Also, parallels are drawn between parent-child relationships and voluntary friendships.

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