The worries adult children and their parents experience for one another

Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2008;67(2):101-27. doi: 10.2190/AG.67.2.a.


This study examined the worries adults and their parents experience for one another. To date, relatively little research has considered the experience of worry in this relationship. A small number of studies, however, suggest worry is relatively common in this relationship (Boutain, 2001; Cicirelli, 1988; Parker, Call, Dunkle, & Vaitkus, 2002). Furthermore, worrying may be linked with mental and physical health (Beck et al., 2001; Hoyer, Becker, & Roth, 2001). A son or daughter (aged 22 to 49) and mother and father (aged 40 to 84) from 213 families participated. Adult children worried primarily about their parents' health. Interestingly, adult children with older parents were not more likely than adult children with younger parents to worry about their parents' health. In contrast, parents' worries were more diverse than those of adult children and included worries about their adult children's health, safety, relationships, and finances, among others. Furthermore, parents' worries were associated with their perceptions of relationship quality. Notably, parents who worried about their adult children's finances reported having poorer quality relationships with their adult children than parents who experienced other worries (e.g., about safety).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Children / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • White People / psychology
  • Young Adult