Autonomy in an ascribed relationship: the case of adult children and elderly parents
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Abstract Demographic and cultural changes have given rise to the question of whether adult children will continue to provide support to their elderly parents. In a qualitative study among selected respondents from a large representative sample, we investigated the motivations of adult children to provide support to their elderly parents. Five major themes emerged: Individual choice, obligation, reciprocity, quality of the relationship and genetic relatedness. Respondents rejected general norms of filial obligations, were reluctant to impose behavioral rules on others, but nevertheless expressed strong personal obligations to care. Individualization is often equated with withdrawing from providing care. Our findings suggest otherwise. Filial obligations tend to be strong, but personalized. Social prescriptions have given way to personal motives to provide care.