Childhood Maltreatment and Later-Life Intergenerational Solidarity
Every year, more than three million allegations of childhood maltreatment are received by child protective services, many of which involve cases of abuse or neglect inflicted by the victims’ parents. A number of studies found that negative consequences of childhood maltreatment can last for a lifetime. Despite the long-term impact of childhood maltreatment, later-life relationships between adult victims of childhood maltreatment and their abusive parent have rarely been examined. This dissertation aims to address the gap in the literature by examining how adult victims of childhood maltreatment relate to their abusive parent when the parent becomes old and requires long-term care assistance. This three-paper dissertation utilized existing data sources: Wisconsin Longitudinal Study and National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States. The first paper examined the mediating effect of intergenerational solidarity with the aging mother in the association between maternal childhood maltreatment and adult psychological functioning. The second paper used longitudinal data analysis to compare long-term changes in affectual solidarity with aging mothers between adults with a history of childhood abuse and those without. This paper also examined moderating effects of the correlates of childhood abuse (i.e., poor social competency and lack of emotional regulation) in the association between childhood abuse and affectual solidarity with the aging mother. The third paper focused on the caregiving situation in which adult victims of childhood abuse provided care to their abusive parent. This paper investigated whether and how providing care to the abusive parent was associated with psychological distress among abused adult children, and whether self-esteem mediated the association. By revealing the dynamics of later-life relationships between adult victims of childhood maltreatment and their abusive parent, this three-paper dissertation not only contributes to creating new knowledge to the aging literature, but also provides future direction for social work practice and policy.