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Young adults, partners and parents: individual agency and the problems of support

Jones, Gill and O'Sullivan, Ann and Rouse, Julia C. (2006) Young adults, partners and parents: individual agency and the problems of support. Journal of youth studies, 9 (4). pp. 375-392. ISSN 1367-6261

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Abstract

Although young adults in the United Kingdom increasingly defer economic independence, they are still 'adult' in other respects. Family and household formation often occur before economic independence is achieved. Parents have increased power to influence their adult children's early partnership behaviour, by providing or withholding economic support. In the face of social change, however, parents are faced with a dilemma in deciding what to support. Some adapt their beliefs to formulate new and defensible criteria of 'respectability', either in a planned way, or in response to a critical event. In others, parents attempt in vain to enforce outdated normative beliefs. Successful partnership formation and a positive parent-child relationship in young adulthood both depend on flexibility in parenting. The ESRC-funded study of parental support during transitions to adulthood involved in-depth interviews with 70 young adults (aged 16-25) and the parents or stepparents of 30 of these, in two areas of England.

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