Family members celebrate Passover in Israel
Family members celebrate Passover in Israel Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israelis have a smoother relationship with their parents than do adults in the United States, a new study has found.

In fact, adults in four European nations also had a better relationship with their parents than did their American peers, according to the research findings published in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

The study surveyed 2,698 adults on their inter-generational relationships in the U.S., Israel, Germany, Norway, England and Spain. Researchers used data from the Longitudinal Study of Generations (LSOG), primarily in Southern California, and a multinational study funded by the European Commission, OASIS.

Researchers found that American families were more than twice as likely as those living anywhere else to have “disharmonious” relationships, or those defined by strong negative feelings (i.e: disagreement or tension) without any strong positive feelings, such as feelings of closeness and amicability. In addition, parents in the U.S. and Israel were more likely than parents in Germany and England to have negative feelings toward their adult children.

Only 51 percent of U.S. respondents had affectionate relationships with their adult children that were relatively free of conflict, as compared with 75 percent of respondents in England, 63 percent in Spain, and 49 percent in Germany.

That having been said, Israeli parents who reported having negative emotions in their relationships with adult offspring also reported strong positive emotions more often than other respondents. Researchers said this indicated emotional intensity and ambivalence.

German parents were unlikely to have negative feelings toward their adult children, but also lacked positive feelings as well. Researchers explained that this indicated overall detachment.

Cultural codes were seen as having possible influence on the differences in behavior seen between countries, researchers said. The British tendency to “get along with others, inhibit hostility and exhibit self-restraint,” was cited by the authors as an example of characteristics that might reduce conflict in family dynamics.

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