U.S. Kids, Parents More Likely to Have Conflict Than Europeans

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True


Having trouble getting up the stairs? Sorry, your grown kids don't want to help. Credit: Ctd 2005, Flickr

Not getting along with your parents lately? Blame the American health care system.

So says a new study by LiveScience, which found parents in the United States are more likely than their European counterparts to have conflict with their adult kids. The study cites the fact that American children are often responsible for caring for their elderly, infirm parents due to the state of health insurance in this country.

In fact, infirmity appears to be a key factor when it comes to the health of relationships between parents and their adult kids.

"Parents in poorer functional health tended more to have detached and disharmonious relationships with their children, and those who received help from children tended more to have ambivalent relationships with them," Merril Silverstein, study researcher and professor of gerontology and sociology at the University of Southern California, tells LiveScience. "Together, the finding suggests that frailty and dependence on children introduce elements of friction and strain into intergenerational relationships."
He adds that parents who receive care and help from their kids tend to have more "ambivalent" relationships with them.

Not all parent-child relationships are fraught, however. The study found that the majority of respondents in countries surveyed said they had affectionate relationships with Mom and Dad. England has the most positive parent-child bonds, with 75 percent of parents reporting strong ties with their adult offspring, with Spain, Germany and the United States as runner-ups at 63, 49 and 51 percent, respectively.

Why are the Brits so happy? Researchers speculate the cultural attitude of emotional restraint contributes to the high score. And don't be fooled by Germany's number, either: The study also found that while negative feelings toward their kids were lacking, so were positive ones, indicating a a level of overall detachment.

Related: Children Raised By Relatives Suffer Health Risks

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.