Predicting parents' intentions to support their adult children's stigmatized romantic relationships
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Some romantic relationship types have a greater likelihood of receiving parental support than do others. Specifically, adults in traditional romantic relationships (i.e., same-race, opposite-sex) perceive more parental support for their relationships than do individuals in socially stigmatized relationships (e.g., interracial, same-sex relationships; Lehmiller & Agnew, 2006). The goal of the current study was to understand better what motivates parents to provide support for their adult children’s romantic relationships. To address this question, the original and a modified version of the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1975) were tested. The TRA was implemented to measure whether parents’ attitudes toward showing support and the parents’ subjective norms were associated with the parents’ intentions to provide support for their children’s relationships in the future. In the modified model, subjective norms was reconceptualized to include parents’ perceptions of stigma by associating with their children’s relationships and the perceived threat of sanctions from the parent’s social networks if the parents were to provide support for their children’s relationships in the future. To improve predictive ability of the models, theoretically relevant covariates were included in each model. To capitalize on a variety of viewpoints, this study included parents whose children were either single or in dating relationships. Parents whose child was single completed the questionnaire while imagining his or her child in a traditional, interracial, or same-sex relationship whereas parents whose child was in a dating relationship reported on his or her child’s current relationship. A sample of 438 parents completed an online survey. Overall, across all groups, parents’ attitudes toward providing support were consistently associated with parents’ intentions to provide support. Associations between the parents’ subjective norms and intentions to provide support varied across groups and were not always significantly associated with parents’ intentions to provide support in the future. Furthermore, parents’ motivations to provide support differed among parents who imagined their children in relationships compared to parents whose children were in real relationships, suggesting parents may overestimate problems with their children’s interracial and same-sex relationships and underestimate problems with their children’s traditional relationships than may occur in real-life situations.