Although research shows that most parents and adult children report generally positive and supportive ties, there is also evidence that negative interactions and emotions are common in intergenerational relationships. To investigate this complexity, researchers have moved beyond simple models to orientations and approaches that recognise contradictory emotions and attitudes regarding family relationships in later life. These efforts have given rise to what has come to be termed the ‘intergenerational ambivalence’ perspective. In this article, we explore the applicability of this perspective to the issue of family caring. We begin by reviewing recent developments in the intergenerational ambivalence perspective. We then discuss a paradox: although caring appears to be a situation particularly prone to conflicting emotions, little research has focused specifically on ambivalence among carers. We present results from our work that shed light on the measurement of carer ambivalence, as well as substantive findings regarding sources of ambivalence for carers.
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