Issue 88

Family Matters No. 88, 2011

Journal issue feature image

Family resources, roles and responsibilities

Family Matters No. 88 highlights a range of life stages from newborns to grandparenting and bequests.

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Executive Editor: Lixia Qu

Editorial panel: Jennifer Baxter, Alan Hayes, Daryl Higgins, Rae Kaspiew, Lixia Qu

Editor: Lan Wang

Cover art: The Family Matters 88 cover painting is by Miranda Lloyd, Winter oak tree, mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of Juxtapose Studios, Adelaide.

Publication details

Family Matters No. 88
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, August 2011, 64 pp.
1030-2646 (print) 1832-8318 (online)

Copyright information


Perspectives on intergenerational bequests: Inheritance arrangements and family resources

Jeanette Laurence and Jacqueline Goodnow

This paper analyses two opposing perspectives on older adults' arrangements for making inheritance bequests to their families. It consider proposals that elders should be seen predominantly as "'Hedonistic Self-Server Skiers" who spend on themselves resources that could be given to younger generations, or as "Sensible Squirrels" who save for their old age and have resources to pass on to younger generations. The paper considers five lines of argument in support of each perspective, and makes reservations based on the available evidence. It is argued that neither perspective covers the phenomena. Instead, it is proposed that inheritance arrangements are varied in the wealth available for transfer, in the forms of bequests made, and in the motivations of bequesters. On the basis of the evidence, the authors propose further lines of research focused on how bequests strike a balance between the competing demands of contemporary life, including inheritance arrangements.

Fathering in Australia among couple families with young children: Research highlights

Jennifer Baxter and Diana Smart

There has been growing recognition of the importance of fathers to families in recent years. However, there has been a limited amount of research on fathers in Australia, with the result that there remains much to be learned about the ways in which Australian fathers contribute to families and feel about themselves as fathers. The report titled Fathering in Australia Among Couple Families With Young Children, by Baxter & Smart (2011) aimed to increase understanding of the ways in which fathers in couple families who are parents of young children contribute to family life. The aspects examined were fathers' time investment with children, their supportiveness as partners, their financial contribution, their parenting behaviours and styles, and their perceptions of their own adequacy as fathers. The impact of fathers on children's wellbeing was also examined. This article presents an edited version of the executive summary from the report, with selected research highlights included to illustrate some of the key findings.

Family law: Family violence

Peter Boshier

Family violence is one of the most serious problems facing New Zealand. In 2008, New Zealand Police recorded 71,044 family violence related occurrences and 16 of the 49 murders that occurred in that year were recorded as domestic violence related. In this paper, the author discusses how domestic violence legislation has evolved in New Zealand and how the New Zealand Family Court currently responds to the issue of family violence, before considering what more he believes needs to be done in order to reduce the incidence of family violence in New Zealand.

How do pregnancy and newborns affect the household budget?

Jason Brandrup and Paula Mance

For most families, the arrival of a newborn child marks a time of happiness and joy; however, it can also be a time of increased stress, some of which may be due to greater pressure on the family budget. The arrival of a newborn is also of key interest to policy makers, especially those seeking to assist families financially to successfully negotiate this important life cycle transition. Although a body of Australian research has examined the costs of raising children more generally, only Brandrup and Mance (2010) specifically report on how newborns affect household budgets. This paper extends the authors' prior work using data from waves 6 to 8 of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The study focuses on partnered women aged between 15 and 47 years and their families. This gave a sample of 1,199 households, and included 411 births over the three-year period. Fixed effects linear regression models are used to estimate whether different categories of household expenditure are typically higher or lower when a newborn arrives. Measureable differences in expenditure patterns associated with the birth of a first-born, second-born or third- or subsequent-born child are discussed.

Grandparenting and the 2006 family law reforms

Lixia Qu, Lawrie Moloney, Ruth Weston, Kelly Hand, Julie Deblaquiere and John De Maio

This article focuses on some grandparenting issues in the context of the 2006 family law reforms. The article shows that, after parental separation, children are more likely to experience a distancing of relationships with paternal rather than maternal grandparents. Consistent with the intent of the reforms regarding grandparents and other important people in the children's lives, the vast majority of parents in the general population agreed that it is important for children whose parents separate to continue to have the same amount of contact with their grandparents. Moreover, it seems that increasing proportions of parents and grandparents are seeking retention of these relationships.

Shared care time: An increasingly common arrangement

Ruth Weston, Lixia Qu, Matthew Gray, John De Maio, Rae Kaspiew, Lawrie Moloney and Kelly Hand

In drawing on findings from the evaluation of the 2006 reforms, undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, this article follows that by Weston et al. (2011), published inĀ Family MattersĀ (No. 86), which focused on the care-time arrangements for children whose parents had separated after the July 2006 reforms were introduced and who had been separated for an average of 15 months when interviewed. While most parents believed that their care-time arrangements were working for their child, the results suggested that, across the various arrangements, children's wellbeing was diminished where the inter-parental relationship was marked by conflict or fear, where there had been a history of family violence, and/or where the responding parent expressed safety concerns for self or child relating to ongoing contact with the other parent. Furthermore, the effect of safety concerns on child wellbeing appeared to be more marked, according to mothers' reports, for children in shared care-time arrangements than for those who were in the care of their mother most of the time. Just how common is shared care time for all children under 18 years of age, regardless of their parents' timing of separation? Is this arrangement becoming increasingly common? This article focuses on these issues.

What works with adolescents?: Family connections and involvement in interventions for adolescents problem behaviours

Elly Robinson, Lyndal Power and David Allan

Adolescence is an important period of growth in which healthy transition from dependence on family ideally occurs, particularly in Western societies. This may be perceived, however, as meaning that young people are increasingly less likely to need family involvement and support in their lives. As a consequence of this, there is no consistent approach to the involvement of family members in treatment and intervention options for young people in need of support. This article examines recent literature regarding adolescent-parent relationships, and explores the evidence for family-based interventions to address problems occurring in adolescence.