Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Stacey Wood

Reader 2

Judith LeMaster

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© 2011 Ariela N. Litman


Post-recession, middle-aged parents may provide various types of support to their grown children and parents. In the current study, parents age 40 to 60 (N =92) reported on a survey the support and affection they exchange with each child over age 18 (N =169) and each parent (N=185). The middle-aged generation (G2) differentiated among children (G3) and parents (G1) within families, and provided emotional, financial, and practical help on average to their children. The more dependent the child (G3), the more support was exchanged. Dependence was measured on normative status like education, employment, disability, and crisis as well as the emotional support and the overall affection. Parents (G1) received as a function of their dependence upon their children. Findings support contingency theory; downstream flow is more common in both physical and emotional support. Furthermore, the motivation the phenomenon is explained based on developmental stake theory and developmental schism to assure support later in life and progeny success. Finally, additional analysis of the upstream support found that a function of the existing relationship and individual factors based on caregiver burden, filial maturity, and appraisal impact the support exchange.


Senior thesis completed December 2011.