ERIC Number: ED214078
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Nov
Reference Count: 0
When There Are No Children: Two Childless Old Men Respond to Old Age.
Wentowski, Gloria J.
Child-rearing is still the culturally-prescribed norm for providing security for oneself in old age. Since most research on aging presumes marriage and parenthood, relatively little is known about the alternative means by which childless older people provide for themselves in their old age. Fourteen of 50 older participants in a two-year study examining the cultural mechanisms by which they gain support from their interpersonal networks were childless. Case studies of two childless older men from the subsample who were on opposite ends of a continuum of security and obligation were used to illustrate the processes by which alternative sources of support were created. The quality of support received in old age was dependent on the use of resources to cultivate relationships over time. Obligation was built through continuous reciprocal exchanges and by the giving of significant gifts. Operation of these cultural mechanisms and variations in their effectiveness was especially apparent in the situations of childless older people, who used their resources to obligate those in tenuous relationship to them. The results suggest that an examination of the strategies used by childless older people provides insight into the general issue of the development of security in old age over a lifetime. (Author/NRB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Scientific Gerontological Society (34th) and the Scientific & Educational Canadian Association on Gerontology (10th), (Toronto, Ontario, Canada, November 8-12, 1981). Best copy available.