Associations Between Quality of Relationships and Life Satisfaction of Older Mothers in Estonia, Germany, Russia and China Wu2015 | Estonia

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The aim of the current study is to examine the associations between the quality of relationships and life satisfaction of older mothers in Estonia, Germany, Russia and the People’s Republic of China, based on the assumptions of the Family Change Theory. The role of satisfaction with family life as the probable mediating factor is considered. Estonian older mothers reported the least admiration and intimacy in their relationships with their adult daughters, and the least satisfaction with family life compared to German, Russian and Chinese mothers. German older mothers perceived the most admiration from their adult daughters and were the most satisfied with both their family and general life. Russian older mothers were the least satisfied with their general life compared to their counterparts in Estonia, Germany and China. The results from the Structural Equation Modelling showed that the relationship between satisfaction with family life and general life satisfaction was statistically significant in all countries except Russia. The satisfaction with family life as a mediating factor might strengthen the positive and negative aspects of intergenerational relationships on the life satisfaction of older mothers. The findings indicated that the emotional closeness and intergenerational relationships in families during the process of transition and globalisation play an important role in the life satisfaction of older mothers in these four countries.
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   Associations between quality of relationships and life satisfaction of older mothers in Estonia, Germany,Russia and China  JING WU*, KAIRI KASEARU † , AIRI VÄRNIK* †‡ ,LIINA-MAI TOODING ‡  and GISELA TROMMSDORFF§  ABSTRACT  The aim of the current study is to examine the associations between the quality of relationships and life satisfaction of older mothers in Estonia, Germany, Russiaand the People ’ s Republic of China, based on the assumptions of the Family Change Theory. The role of satisfaction with family life as the probable mediating factor is considered. Estonian older mothers reported the least admiration and in-timacy in their relationships with their adult daughters, and the least satisfaction with family life compared to German, Russian and Chinese mothers. Germanolder mothers perceived the most admiration from their adult daughters and were the most satis 󿬁 ed with both their family and general life. Russian oldermothers were the least satis 󿬁 ed with their general life compared to their counter-parts in Estonia, Germany and China. The results from the Structural EquationModelling showed that the relationship between satisfaction with family life andgeneral life satisfaction was statistically signi 󿬁 cant in all countries except Russia.The satisfaction with family life as a mediating factor might strengthen the positiveand negative aspects of intergenerational relationships on the life satisfaction of older mothers. The  󿬁 ndings indicated that the emotional closeness and interge-nerational relationships in families during the process of transition and globalisa-tion play an important role in the life satisfaction of older mothers in thesefour countries. KEY WORDS   –  quality of relationship, satisfaction with family life, life satisfaction,culture, Family Change Theory, Structural Equation Modelling.* Estonian-Swedish Mental Health and Suicidology Institute, Tallinn, Estonia. †  Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia. ‡  Institute of Social Work, Tallinn University, Estonia.§ Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Germany. Ageing & Society    ,   ,    –   . © Cambridge University Press   doi:  .  /S  X   of use, available at http:/www.cambridge.org/core/terms. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X15000355 Downloaded from http:/www.cambridge.org/core. Columbia University Libraries, on 29 Dec 2016 at 03:51:21, subject to the Cambridge Core terms  Introduction Despite a large volume of literature on life satisfaction, most studies havefocused on the effect of socio-economic factors or the in 󿬂 uence of macro-economic processes on life satisfaction (Dolan, Peasgood and White  ). Relatively few studies have investigated the association between lifesatisfaction and intergenerational relationships in older age. Increased lon-gevity and the inability, reluctance or unwillingness of societies to meet theneeds of older people place the family as their main source of care andsupport (Lowenstein, Katz and Gur-Yaish   ; Moor and Komter   ).Even though the importance of providing instrumental support hasdecreased, the emotional closeness and support between generations hasmaintained its signi 󿬁 cance (Künemund   ). It is claimed that due to in-dividualisation, autonomy and self-expression, the importance of individualdependencies is decreasing and family ties are weakening in Western cul-tures (Inglehart and Welzel   ).The Family Change Theory (Kagitcibasi   ) is an approach which canbe used to explain how the processes of modernisation and globalisationaffect the family. This theory takes a global perspective and speci 󿬁 cally con-trasts non-Western and Western family cultures (Mayer   ). According toKagitcibasi (  ), the family model of emotional interdependence is aresult of the modernisation process, which is growing out from the modelof (total) interdependence. In the emotional interdependence model, per-sonal autonomy is gaining importance,while material interdependence andtraditional hierarchies in family relations are losing their signi 󿬁 cance;however, emotional closeness and relationship orientation continue to beimportant. We follow the assumption that intergenerational relations might contrib-ute to individual wellbeing in old age. Previous research has focused moreon support exchange, reciprocity and intergenerational relationships(Laidmäe  et al.   ; Lowenstein, Katz and Gur-Yaish   ; Schwarz  et al.  b  ) and less on the relations between the quality of the relationshipand life satisfaction. Martin and Westerhof (  ) have shown that contact with family members and the assumed help and care from family members are positively associated with wellbeing. Intergenerational family bonds serve as markers for differences in socialisation, roles, culture, values and access to resources, thereby shaping family relations(Lowenstein   ; Lowenstein, Katz and Gur-Yaish   ).Mother  –  daughter bonds tend to be the strongest and most enduring of  󿬁 lial connections according to some American empirical studies(Fingerman   ; Rossi   ; Rossi and Rossi   ). It was found that    per cent of American older mothers regard their daughters as among   Associations between quality of relationships and life satisfaction  of use, available at http:/www.cambridge.org/core/terms. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X15000355 Downloaded from http:/www.cambridge.org/core. Columbia University Libraries, on 29 Dec 2016 at 03:51:21, subject to the Cambridge Core terms  the three most important people in their lives, and as the person they aremost likely to talk to when worried and to request help from when inneed (Bodner and Cohen-Fridel   ; Fingerman   ,   ). This begsthe question of whether older people ’ s life satisfaction depends on theirintergenerational family relations (Lowenstein, Katz and Gur-Yaish   ;Silverstein and Bengtson   ). This study will investigate the associationsbetween the relationship quality with adult daughters and the wellbeing of older mothers, focusing particularly on their general life satisfactionand satisfaction with family life.Previous research has mostly been carried out using European  –   Americansamples, which calls into question the universality of the above-reportedresultacross diverse cultures.This studyaimsto:(a)describe thedifferencesofthemother  –  adultdaughterrelationshipsandsatisfactionwithlifeandthefamily in four different societies  –  Estonia, Germany, Russia and thePeople ’ s Republic of China; (b) compare the associations between relation-ships and satisfaction with family life; and (c) examine whether the associ-ation between relationship quality and the older mothers ’  life satisfactionis mediated by the older mothers ’  satisfaction with family life. Intergenerational relationships in Estonia  Historically, Estonia was greatly in 󿬂 uenced by Germany and Russia as it wasruled by Russian governors and governed by German gentry, whose customsand traditions have been integrated into the cultural heritage of Estonia.Estonia and Russia share the common historical background of having belonged to the Soviet Union. The Soviet context was characterised by high secularisation, relative economic security and state-subsidised childcare, all of which laid the groundwork for the adoption of individualistic values and norms. However, these norms were impeded by the of  󿬁 cial ideol-ogy of collectivism and strong censorship of alternatives (Gerber andBerman   ).The collapse of the Soviet Union and the removal of social constraintsmade it possible to behave according to individualistic values. Adapting to Western institutions after the Soviet era brought about numerousopportun-ities for Estonians to reformulate their values, ideals, practices and views of themselves, as expressed in the following (Pajumets   ): rising individu-alism, self-actualisation, autonomy, self-reliance,  etc.  (Lauristin   ). Multi-generation families were widespread in Estonia in the past, especially in thecountryside,wheregrandparents,parents,childrenandgrandchildrenlivedunder thesameroof. Toa large extent, thisform has recently been replacedby nuclear families, where parents and children live together, with theoldest generation frequently living separately from the youngest (Laidmäe   Jing Wu et al. of use, available at http:/www.cambridge.org/core/terms. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X15000355 Downloaded from http:/www.cambridge.org/core. Columbia University Libraries, on 29 Dec 2016 at 03:51:21, subject to the Cambridge Core terms  et al.   ; Narusk and Hansson   ). Recent analyses have shown that during the   s, the networks of giving and receiving help weakened, andespecially younger cohorts reduced their giving of support to parents andgrandparents (Kasearu and Kutsar   ). It highlights the possible gapbetween the expectations of the older generations of receiving help andthe possibilities and willingness of the younger generations of giving help. Intergenerational relationships in Germany  Inamodernised,af  󿬂 uentandindividualisticsocietysuchasGermany,themoregeneralmotiveunderlyingthereciprocitymotivemightbebasedonthevalueofindependence,includingthevalueofnotbeingindebtedtoothers(Schwarz etal.  b  ).InGermany,latemarriageandtherelatedlargeagegapbetweengenerations as well as bilineal descent reduce affective solidarity, on the onehand (Nauck    ). On the other hand, Germany is also characterised by the norm of respect for parents and an obligation to mutually support family members (Schwarz  et al.   b  ). Frequent contact between the generationsis the norm, and the exchange of support is continuous. The family is amajorsourceofsocialsupportinGermany;moreover,asaresultoftherelatively high pensions of Germans, more  󿬁 nancial support   󿬂 ows from old parents totheir adult children than  vice versa   (Albertini, Kohli and Vogel   ; Szydlik   ). Parent   –  child relationships are rather structured on the basis of equalpartnership,wherereciprocalacceptanceandexchangearebasedonindividu-alism and independence (Rothbaum  et al.   ; Trommsdorff and Kornadt   ; Trommsdorff and Schwarz   ). In this context, the developmentaltask is to focus on the autonomy of parents and children alike. Thisbecomes more prevalent during and after adolescence, when adult childrenstart a family of their own (Trommsdorff and Schwarz   ). Intergenerational relationships in Russia  Russia, which had a planned economy and socialist government in the past,is currently experiencing economic deregulation and political transform-ation; this is certainly a great challenge for kinship relationships withregard to gaining and distributing material resources. Kinship membersare an essential resource of mutual services in the production and distribu-tion of material goods (Nauck    ).In Russia, households of several generations are a common living ar-rangement, and the patrilineal system is the dominant form of kinship or-ganisation (Mitterauer and Kagan   ; Nauck    ). Early marriageand relatively small age gaps between generations increase affective solidar-ity (Nauck    ). Because of the institutional arrangements, family   Associations between quality of relationships and life satisfaction  of use, available at http:/www.cambridge.org/core/terms. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X15000355 Downloaded from http:/www.cambridge.org/core. Columbia University Libraries, on 29 Dec 2016 at 03:51:21, subject to the Cambridge Core terms
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