The intergenerational relationship between Korean aging mothers and adult daughters

Jeon, Sesong
Major Professor
Megan Gilligan
Committee Member
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Human Development and Family Studies

To further the understanding of intergenerational relationships in adulthood, this dissertation focused on the experience of aging mothers and their adult daughters in Korea. This dissertation is comprised of two studies. The first study in Chapter 2 investigated the association between parent-child differentiation and psychological well-being and the moderating impact of adult daughter’s parental status. The second study in Chapter 3 explored Korean working adult daughters’ perceptions of their current relationship with their aging mothers who provide grandchild care.

The Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) was employed in Chapter 2 to test regression and moderation analyses with dyadic data from aging mothers and their adult daughters. The key findings from Chapter 2 indicated that aging mothers and their adult daughters’ parent-child differentiation was positively associated with their own psychological well-being; however, there were no significant cross (partner) effects on psychological well-being. Furthermore, the association between differentiation and psychological well-being was stronger among aging mothers whose adult daughters had children compared to aging mothers whose adult daughters did not have children. In Chapter 3, interviews from working adult daughters whose mothers provide childcare were examined using a qualitative methodological approach. Findings from Chapter 3 indicated that working adult daughters reported three types of ambivalent feelings regarding their mothers’ childcare: 1) thankfulness and guilt toward their mothers, 2) dependence on their mothers and desired independence, and 3) closeness and disagreement with their mothers.

The two studies provide complementary insights into the relationship quality between aging mothers and their adult daughters in Korea. Overall, these chapters shed light on the importance of the life course perspective-─linked lives ─in the intergenerational relationship. In addition, the importance of interactions between macro and micro factors on family processes were emphasized. This dissertation contributes to a growing body of research on the intergenerational relationship between aging mothers and their adult daughters in adulthood.