Intergenerational Ambivalence and Loneliness in Later Life

TitleIntergenerational Ambivalence and Loneliness in Later Life
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsHua, CL, J Brown, S, Bulanda, JR
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
ISBN Number0022-2445
KeywordsAging, ambivalence, gender, intergenerational relationships, Older Adults

Abstract Objective This brief report examined the relationship between intergenerational ambivalence and loneliness in later life among a group of older adults with at least one child. Background Previous work has explored the links between intergenerational ambivalence and other indicators of well-being but has not examined loneliness. Although studies show an association between positive and negative relationship quality with children and loneliness, there are conflicting findings, and there is also insufficient exploration of the role of gender. Method Utilizing pooled data from the 2012 and 2014 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (n = 10,967) (, structural equation models were used to examine the hypothesized relationships, and multiple group analysis was utilized to assess potential gender differences. Results The results indicated that greater intergenerational ambivalence was associated with increased loneliness in later life. However, there were no significant gender or marital status differences in the relationships. Conclusion This study adds to the existing literature on ambivalence and well-being by showing that ambivalent relationships are related to loneliness. Results underscore the emotional complexity of parent?child relationships and suggest the need for investigating the consequences of holding contradictory feelings.

Citation Key11034