• Home
  • » Projects
  • Project contributors: Falkingham J, Evandrou M, Baschnonga-(Sage) J,

    This Project is linked to the following Strand/s:

    Living Longer and the Changing Lifecourse

    Overview

    Objectives
    This research explores how parental marital disruption, and the timing of it within the 'child's' lifecourse, can influence the obligations they feel to care for their parents in later life. The majority of studies have suggested that parental divorce that occurs earlier in a child's life will have the most detrimental effect on their relationships with their parents in later years, and also on their obligations to provide care for their parents as they grow old.The study aims to examine the actual transfers and exchanges of support that mid-life adult children are engaged in, including how and why these are prioritised. It explores the impacts of different types of parental marital disruption on adult children's relationships with their parents (including periods of conflict, separation, reconciliation, divorce, bereavement and re-partnering).

    Methods
    The study has collected retrospective data on about 42 participants' lives (aged 36-64) from birth to the time of interview. A multi-method approach using Life History Calendar (LHC) techniques, life narrative and semi-structured interview methods was employed. Life history calendars have been used as a method for capturing robust quantitative life history data by increasing the power of the participant's autobiographical memory. This is done using events and transitions that can be easily remembered (such as the participant's wedding or graduation) as reference points for recalling less prominent events and statuses such as the quality or closeness of personal relationships. This study has applied the Life History Calendar method in an innovative way within a qualitative research framework to accurately 'map out' participants' lifecourses, which was crucial for understanding the links between the timing of parental marital disruption and the changing quality of relationships and contact with parents.

    Findings
    Findings challenge the contention that parental divorce which occurs earlier in a child's life will have the most detrimental effect on their relationships with their parents in later years, and also on their obligations to provide care as they grow old. It focuses on those who have experienced parental divorce relatively recently as adult children, demonstrating how mid-life experiences of parental divorce have weakened their feelings of obligation to care for their parents in significant ways.

    In contrast, respondents who did experience parental divorce earlier in their lives often cited examples of subsequent events which improved their relationships with their parents in particular their own child-bearing (or from the older parent's perspective, the arrival of grandchildren). The research also demonstrates how the deterioration of marital relations in post-retirement couples has resulted in some older parents 'living together apart' rather than divorcing. This can often involve the social withdrawal of fathers, weakening relationships with their adult children and reducing their willingness to provide care.

    These findings are presented within the context of rising divorce rates in older age groups in the UK and a projected widening of the informal care gap.

    Publications & Activities

    The timing of parental divorce and filial obligations to care for parents later in life
    IUSSP 2013 (2013). (Busan, Korea)
    Authors: Baschnonga-(Sage) J, Evandrou M, Falkingham J,

    The effects of post-retirement marital disruption on intergenerational exchanges, and the obligations of mid-life adult children to care
    Population Association of America Annual Conference (2012). (San Francisco)
    Authors: Falkingham J, Baschnonga-(Sage) J, Evandrou M,

    The effects of parental marital disruption on the obligations of mid-life adult children to care
    European Population Conference (2012). (Stockholm)
    Authors: Baschnonga-(Sage) J, Evandrou M, Falkingham J,

    A lifecourse perspective on experiences of parental marital disruption and changing family relations through the use of life narrative and life history calendar methods
    British Society for Population Studies Conference 2012 (2012). (University of Nottingham)
    Authors: Baschnonga-(Sage) J, Evandrou M, Falkingham J,

    A lifecourse perspective on parental marital disruption and the obligations mid-life 'adult children' feel to care for their parents
    British-Irish Population Conference (2012). (Queens University, Belfast)
    Authors: Baschnonga-(Sage) J, Evandrou M, Falkingham J,

    Media

    Who is providing informal care to older people and who are older people caring for?
    Article in 'Britain in 2012', ESRC's annual magazine: "Who is providing informal care to older people and who are older people caring for?"