We challenge the common idea that solidarity has positive, whereas conflict has negative implications, by investigating intergenerational ambivalence – defined as the co-occurrence of solidarity and conflict – and relationship quality. We use representative data on non-coresident adult children and parents with high levels of contact (weekly or more; N=2,694 dyads). Results show that over half of high contact parent–child ties can be characterized as ambivalent and of high-quality. The likelihood of negative instead of positive ambivalent ties is greater if adult children have few exit options because they are socially isolated or have a small number of siblings. Ties between fathers and sons, and those between caring daughters and aging parents also have a high probability of belonging to the negative ambivalent type.

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Journal of Aging Studies
Department of Sociology

van Gaalen, R., Dykstra, P., & Komter, A. (2009). Where is the exit? Intergenerational ambivalence and relationship quality in high contact ties. Journal of Aging Studies, 24, 1–35. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/18466