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Faculty Weigh in on Aging Parents and Not-So-Empty Nesters

Faculty Weigh in on Aging Parents and Not-So-Empty Nesters

Two researchers in the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Human Development and Family Sciences were quoted in recent New York Times articles about relationships between parents and their adult children.

Professor Marci Gleason, who studies major life transitions, weighed in on why aging parents resist help from their children. Gleason said help is hard to accept because parents want to feel needed.

"Even if intellectually they accept it, actually receiving help is difficult," she told the Times. "It can signal that you're not needed, and people want to feel needed."

There are ways to ease parents' transitions away from independence. Even little things like letting a parent to listen to a story about a child's tough day can help balance the relationship, according to Gleason.

Professor Karen Fingerman was quoted in the second New York Times article, which focused on why college students now stay more connected to their parents.

"The culture is shifting toward increased contact and increased interdependency," Fingerman said.

Fingerman researches these dynamics and has written about why this shift is occurring now.

"Societal changes in the form of economic challenges to attaining adulthood, new technologies facilitating communication and public policies that place greater reliance on family contribute to these stronger bonds," she wrote in a 2017 paper in the journal Innovation in Aging.

Fingerman is co-director of UT's new Texas Aging and Longevity Center

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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

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