There might be a worldwide agreement that children are obliged to provide care to their elderly parents. However, the manner in which this value manifests itself is rather diverse in different countries.
Researchers analyzed the circumstances in which the financial, emotional or instrumental help is given to the parents by their children across European countries. The study used data from the generations and gender surveys conducted in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, France and Norway.
Today’s family is a beanpole family, a multigenerational family. Never in the history of mankind have so many generations lived simultaneously.
Though co-residence hardly exists any more, contacts and solidarity prevail. A study by Dykstra et al. (2011) identified four different types of help based on data from the European SHARE project.
Nowadays, we observe a strong and rewarding relationship between children and their parents; the generational conflict such as the one seen in the sixties and seventies of the last century seems to have vanished. Nevertheless, the quality of relationships can suffer under tensions caused by different values and norms. A study in the US state of Massachusetts researched mother-child dyads and looked more intensively at 64 mothers who reported estrangement from at least one of their children. The authors defined the relationship as estranged when mothers reported on having no contact with the child – either face-to-face or via telephone – in the last month, or having contact of any type but less than once a month.