Parenting Satisfaction at Midlife Among European- and Chinese-American Mothers With a College-Enrolled Child

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This study investigated ethnic differences and similarities in the correlates of parenting satisfaction among mothers with a college-enrolled child to understand the potential role of culture in shaping the midlife parenting experience. Seventy-two mothers of Chinese ethnicity and 68 mothers of European extraction (M age = 49.8) completed questionnaires regarding their level of parenting satisfaction, relationship quality, and the perceived academic performance of their college-enrolled child (M age = 19.72). Chinese-American mothers reported significantly lower parenting satisfaction than did European-American mothers, as well as less positive relationship quality (i.e., lower mutual warmth and acceptance and higher parent-child conflict) and poorer perceived college performance by their young-adult child (i.e., grades, academic investment, and satisfaction with students' college experiences). Perceived grades and academic investment were correlated with the parenting satisfaction of Chinese-American mothers but not with that of European-American mothers. Regression analyses indicated that mutual warmth and acceptance contributed independently to maternal satisfaction with parenting and reduced ethnic differences in parenting satisfaction to nonsignificance. These results led us to conclude that mutual warmth with young-adult children is a key feature of midlife parenting satisfaction for mothers of both ethnic groups.

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