Safety Nets and Scaffolds: Parental Support in the Transition to Adulthood

Teresa Toguchi Swartz, Minzee Kim, Mayumi Uno, Jeylan Mortimer, Kirsten Bengtson O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Using longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study (analytic sample N = 712), we investigate how age, adult role acquisition and attainments, family resources, parent-child relationship quality, school attendance, and life events influence support received from parents in young adulthood. Parental assistance was found to be less forthcoming for those who had made greater progress on the road to adulthood, signified by socioeconomic attainment and union formation. The quality of mother-child and father-child relationships affected parental support in different ways, positively for mothers, negatively for fathers. School enrollment, negative life events, and employment problems were associated with a greater likelihood of receiving support. The findings suggest that parents act as "scaffolding" and "safety nets" to aid their children's successful transition to adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-429
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Family relations
  • Intergenerational transfers
  • Longitudinal
  • Parent-child relations
  • Social support
  • Transition to adulthood


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