Correlates of parental satisfaction: a study of late life family relationships in a rural county in China

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Yiqing Yang, Ming Wen


This study aims to identify correlates of satisfaction in late life parental role, using a sample of 432 older parents (not couples) aged 60 to 79 with 1,223 adult children living in one of the least devel-oped counties of northern China. Drawing upon the symbolic interactionism perspective and Chin-ese cultural emphasis on filial piety, we tested a parental satisfaction model including a set of vari-ables capturing parental perceptions of relationship quality with each of their grown children (hereafter offspring), expectations of various forms of support from offspring, and evaluations of offspring’s filial piety (being filial). Most parents in our sample were satisfied with their parental role. Logistic regression analysis indicated that getting along with offspring, offspring met parental expectations in terms of pro-viding emotional, practical, and financial support, and offspring being filial were significantly associated with parental satisfaction, respectively, net of parent and offspring characteristics. When simultaneously examined in the full model, however, only two correlates remained significant: getting along with offspring and offspring being filial. Offspring’s filial piety was associated with parental satisfaction in a dose-re-sponse manner, indicating the importance of considering multiple children in a family on parental well-being. Findings underscore the significance of parental perceptions of relationship quality with offspring and offspring’s filial piety for parental satisfaction. Findings suggest that filial piety, a multifaceted concept deeply rooted in Confucianism, continues to exert a strong influence today on Chinese family relationships despite the dramatic socioeconomic and cultural transformation China has been experiencing in the past three decades.


relationship quality with offspring; child-to-parent support; filial piety; filial discrepancy; multiple children; counties below poverty level

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