Early Caregiving: Perceived Parental Relations and Current Social Support

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There is very little research on the effects of early caregiving on adult development. The purpose of the present study was to: (1) provide descriptive information on young caregivers, and (2) determine if there is a relation between early caregiving experiences, early parent-child relations and their current (adult) social support. Early caregiving was defined as providing assistance with basic and/or instrumental activities of daily living to parents or adult relatives, while under the age of 21. Thirty-eight individuals (33 females, 5 males) completed measures of their early caregiving experiences, the Parental Bonding Inventory (PBI), and the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey. Individuals who began caregiving at older ages (adolescence) perceived their father's as more warm and caring than those who began caregiving at younger ages (early to middle childhood). Smaller amounts of care provided to care recipients were associated with more perceived current affectionate support and emotional and informational support available to young caregivers in adulthood. The smaller the duration of the caregiving experience, the more perceived affectionate support available to young caregivers in adulthood. The higher the reports of father's warmth and caring toward the young caregiver, the more perceived tangible support available to them in adulthood. Warmth from father's during the first 16 years of life is also associated with reports of a greater amount of relatives and friends available to provide support.

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