Negotiating family relationships: Dementia care as a midlife developmental task

Kathleen Sherrell*, Kathleen C. Buckwalter, Darby Morhardt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This article is based on interviews with a 44-year-old woman who exemplified the concepts of filial anxiety and filial maturity. These two concepts were initially defined by Blenkner in 1965, but more recently they were developed into a conceptual framework for understanding adult child caregiving responsibilities. The process of becoming "filially mature" is one of grieving, mourning, and letting go of previously secure rules and regulations about relationships with parents. This adds to a previously mandated imperative of developmental tasks that one must face at midlife (e.g. dealing with mortality). Augmenting these midlife tasks, parent care can be defined as a positive, growth-enhancing experience, versus the burden-stress model that has previously characterized this experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
JournalFamilies in Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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