Children And Their Aging Parents

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According to Matthijs Kalmijn (2007), the support provided by children to their aging parents is affected by the parent’s gender and more specifically, the parents’ differing levels of investment and marriage protection during the course of their lives (p. 1080). It was found that levels of investment and marriage protection are proportional with the amount of contact and support they receive from children later in life. Investment is defined as the amount of the time parents spend with children during their formative years (p. 1080); it has been found that mothers invest more into their children than do fathers and that their increased level of investment during a child’s formative years may increase the amount of intergenerational support she receives in latter years (p. 1080). Marriage protection looks at the “kinkeeping” roles of mothers (p. 1081) in which the mother’s role and behavior may directly or indirectly benefit the father by influencing the child’s levels of support towards him and can, in some instances, balance the negative impact of the father’s decreased investment (p. 1081). Kalmijn studied differing levels of investment and marriage protection by looking at four “life course situations”: married parents, parents who divorced while their children were young, parents who divorced when their children were older, and when one of the parents have died (p. 1081). It was shown that each of the aforementioned life course situations impact both levels of investment and marriage protection, and therefore impact intergenerational support later in life. Married fathers spend less time with their children (negatively impacting later contact and support) but these effects are somewhat mitigated by the kinkeeping role of his... ... middle of paper ... ... to familial roles. We live in a society where women were once the main caretakers and men were the financial providers. From this perspective, it would make sense that there are unequal parental investments in children, as one parent is more readily available and present during formative years. However, with the increasing number of dual-income homes and stay-at-home fathers that we have discussed in units past, to me it would seem that in some cases mothers are investing less in their children and fathers are investing more. So perhaps it should not be a discussion of the difference in support based on gender, so much as a discussion about the differences in support based on a child’s main caretaker versus their secondary caretaker. Do you think that the changes in family dynamic we have seen will affect the outcome of a similar study in the future, why or why not?
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