Filial anxiety and sense of obligation among offspring of Holocaust survivors

Amit Shrira, Ravit Menashe, Moshe Bensimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Much is known about adult children caring for their aging parents, yet the potentially unique experience of offspring caring for traumatized parents is underexplored. Therefore, the current studies assessed filial anxiety and sense of obligation among offspring of Holocaust survivors (OHS) in caring for their parents. Method: In Study 1, we interviewed 10 OHS (mean age = 61.0) in order to extract themes of filial anxiety. Based on Study 1's data, a newly constructed scale of filial anxiety was administered in Study 2 to 59 adult offspring (mean age = 56.4): 28 OHS and 31 comparisons. Study 3 included 143 dyads of parents and offspring (mean age = 55.4 and 81.7, respectively): 86 Holocaust dyads and 57 comparison dyads. Parents reported posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and offspring reported filial anxiety and sense of obligation. Results: In Study 1, interviewees referred to concerns about parent experiencing decline alongside caregiving difficulties. In Study 2, OHS reported higher filial anxiety and sense of obligation relative to comparisons. This group difference was mediated by sense of obligation. In Study 3, OHS with parental PTSD reported higher filial anxiety and sense of obligation relative to comparisons. Once more, filial sense of obligation served as a mediator. In Studies 2–3, results remained significant after adjusting for offspring symptoms. Conclusion: Parental exposure to the Holocaust, and especially parental PTSD, related to higher filial obligation, which in turn was related to higher filial anxiety. These findings bear important implications for practitioners working with survivors' families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-761
Number of pages10
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Filial anxiety
  • Holocaust
  • filial obligation
  • intergenerational transmission
  • parental PTSD

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