Mothers' and fathers' perspectives on intimacy in parent-child relationships during middle childhood

Oliphant, Amy E.
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University of Guelph

This study examined mothers' and fathers' conceptions of close relationships with their children and their ideas about how close relationships are constructed. Mothers and fathers from 23 families (46 parents) with children between the ages of 7 and 11 were interviewed individually about their relationship with one of their children. Thematic analysis using an interpretive inductive framework indicated that parents' conceptualizations of closeness corresponded with several theoretical models of the construct of intimacy; however, the results of this study provide evidence for a new model of parent-child intimacy that incorporates pleasure with mutually constructed interaction. Further, the results of this study extend current conceptualizations of intimacy by suggesting that intimacy can be constructed both directly and symbolically, and that people can develop deliberate strategies to create intimacy. The overall implication of the findings is that intimacy represents a domain of parent-child relationships that may be distinguished from other relationship domains.

intimacy, parent-child relationships, middle childhood, mother, father, perspectives