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Family Matters No. 82 - June 2009

The roles that parents play in the lives of their young adult children

Suzanne Vassallo, Diana Smart and Rhys Price-Robertson

Abstract

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is commonly accompanied by major changes in relationships between parents and their children. Surprisingly little is known about this process, and in particular parents' perspectives of it. This article explores parents' views of their parenting roles at this life stage and the types of support they provide to their sons and daughters. Using data from the Australian Temperament Project - a large longitudinal study of children's development that commenced in 1983 and has collected 14 waves of data over the first 24 years of life - this article examines how parents with children aged in their mid-20s perceive their parenting roles; the levels of financial and emotional support they provide; and whether parents' perceptions and support differ for young men and women and according to their adult child's place of residence (in the family home or elsewhere). The findings suggest that most parents continue to have a close involvement in their children's lives. There were few gender differences, but numerous differences according to whether or not young people were still living at home. Overall, a shift in parents' perceptions of their roles seems to be occurring, with many moving away from providing practical, tangible support to a more advisory and guiding role.

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is commonly accompanied by major changes in relationships between parents and their children. Surprisingly little is known about this process, and in particular parents' perspectives of it. This article explores parents' views of their parenting roles at this life stage and the types of support they provide to their sons and daughters. Using data from the Australian Temperament Project - a large longitudinal study of children's development that commenced in 1983 and has collected 14 waves of data over the first 24 years of life - this article examines how parents with children aged in their mid-20s perceive their parenting roles; the levels of financial and emotional support they provide; and whether parents' perceptions and support differ for young men and women and according to their adult child's place of residence (in the family home or elsewhere). The findings suggest that most parents continue to have a close involvement in their children's lives. There were few gender differences, but numerous differences according to whether or not young people were still living at home. Overall, a shift in parents' perceptions of their roles seems to be occurring, with many moving away from providing practical, tangible support to a more advisory and guiding role.

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Suggested citation:

Vassallo, S., Smart, D., & Price-Robertson, R. (2009). The roles that parents play in the lives of their young adult childrenFamily Matters, 82, 8-13.