Due to cultural traditions, limited government assistance for young adults, and gaps in services for elderly adults in the US, family ties are a mainstay of support. Rewards and demands of providing and receiving support may have profound effects on each family member's well-being. The proposed study will collect a second wave of data from Family Exchanges Study (NIA R01AG027769) which interviewed 633 middle-aged adults, their grown children (n = 592), aging parents (n = 377) and spouses who were parents of the grown children (n = 197) about their relationships and exchanges of support in 2008. Over 36% of participants identified as racial minority. FES2 will provide an unprecedented opportunity to examine family exchanges over time, factors that influence exchanges, and implications of exchanges for individual physical and psychological health.
Aim 1) Describe and explain changes and continuity in support. FES2 will examine variability and identify factors that elicit changes in support over time. Family support may alter due to events in individual family members'lives or in the larger social context. The multi-reporter design of FES will illuminate how changes in support to one family member affect support of other family members.
Aim 2) Assess repercussions of receiving support over time. In FES1, many individuals received considerable support, but we know little about consequences of receiving support over time. We will assess effectiveness of support at FES1 in eliciting positive outcomes or deterring negative outcomes in FES2 for different family members.
Aim 3) Examine implications of providing support family support. We address a fundamental contradiction in the literature: whether providing family support is beneficial or detrimental to well-being. FES1 captured helping situations appraised as either stressful or rewarding. FES2 will begin to establish links between providing help under different conditions and individual physical and psychological health. A data collection burst will provide unique information regarding daily interactions between grown children and their parents as well as salivary hormones associated with stress (i.e., DHEA and cortisol). Most young adults and their parents report frequent contact and FES2 will be the first to examine their daily interactions. The dyadic data will provide insights into how each party's daily life affects the other and how daily interactions fit into broader relationship patterns. The hormones may provide physiological evidence for theories regarding implications of relationship qualities and support exchanges under stressful versus rewarding circumstances. In sum, FES2 will allow an unprecedented longitudinal examination of support exchanges within and between families from perspectives of multiple family members in a diverse sample. The parent-child tie is highly influential throughout life and has a large impact on psychological and physical health and mortality. This study has potential practical implications for improving support patterns and relationships within families and thus, individual health and well-being.

Public Health Relevance

Family ties are a mainstay of support for most Americans;most middle-aged adults offer support to generations above and below. Indeed, the parent child tie is highly influential throughout life and has a large impact on each party's physical and psychological health. Family Exchanges Study 2 (FES2) will build on data from a first wave of data to identify: (a) factors that elicit increased or decreased support among multiple family members, (b) consequences of receiving or providing support for individual well-being and (c) ways of improving family support exchanges and family relationships.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-L (02))
Program Officer
Gerald, Melissa S
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University of Texas Austin
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Polenick, Courtney A; Birditt, Kira S; Zarit, Steven H (2018) Parental Support of Adult Children and Middle-Aged Couples' Marital Satisfaction. Gerontologist 58:663-673
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