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Intergenerational ambivalence: Aging mothers whose adult daughters are mentally ill

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Ingersoll-Dayton, Berit, Ruth M. Dunkle, Letha Chadiha, Abigail Lawrence-Jacobson, Lydia W. Li, Erin Weir, and Jennifer Satorius. 2011. "Intergenerational ambivalence: Aging mothers whose adult daughters are mentally ill." Families in Society, 92(1): 114–119.

Research on families dealing with mental illness has considered either positive or negative aspects of intergenerational family relationships. The current study extends this work by using intergenerational ambivalence theory to examine aging mothers' contradictory expectations toward adult daughters who are mentally ill. This study focuses on interviews obtained from a sample of 22 mothers aged 52–90 who expressed considerable sociological ambivalence in relation to their grown daughters. Four strategies of managing ambivalence are identified: excusing behaviors, reducing expectations, adjusting help-giving, and confronting. The implications are that practitioners should be aware of intergenerational ambivalence, help aging parents identify their ambivalence management strategies, and assess the extent to which these strategies are adaptive. Future research directions in this area are also discussed.

DOI:10.1606/1044-3894.4077 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3115753. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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