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First published August 1996

Conflict and Cooperation among Adult Siblings During the Transition to the Role of Filial Caregiver


Based on data from 40 open-ended interviews with working- and middle-class adult children and children-in-law currently caring for an elderly parent, this study focused on the transition to the role of filial caregiver. Class differences in the formation of parent-caring networks among siblings and in the conflict that ensued when siblings did not provide assistance were examined. Although only one-third of the sample received assistance from siblings, it occurred more often in working-class families and was usually the result of family values which emphasized helping one another and an obligation to provide care for one's parents. When siblings did not provide assistance, sisters were more likely to ask for help while brothers demanded it. Often, lack of sibling assistance was a reflection of prior family histories. Implications for later-life families are discussed.

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Article first published: August 1996
Issue published: August 1996


  1. adult siblings
  2. family caregiving
  3. later-life families

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Issue published: August 1996
Published online: June 30, 2016



Deborah M. Merrill

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This article was published in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.


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