A Qualitative Study on the Experiences of Chinese Empty Nest Couples on Their Role Change


Purpose In family life cycle theory, each developmental stage means a crucial transition to individual, marriage, and family. However, when discussing on the family life cycle, many empirical studies in Hong Kong only focus on early stages related to raising children. Studies in the West reviewed that parents in empty nest stage experience identity crisis (i.e. loss of major parental role) and mixed emotions. Maladaptive to role adjustment may result in poorer psychological well-being. This study aims to enrich the knowledge on empty nest couple’s role change experiences in Chinese community. Methods A qualitative case study approach was adopted. Six pairs of empty nest couples were recruited. Face-to-face, zoom and semi-structure interview were used. Both individual and couple interview were adopted depending on the interview location. Emotion cards were applied during interviews. Results The interviewed empty nesters reported ‘Gain’ from more private and carefree moments. They also experience the process of ‘Loss’ and ‘Restoration’ towards the major parental role, which could be illustrated by the concept of ‘Dual Process Model’ from Stroebe & Schut (1999). Lastly, three protective factors (i.e., acceptances, marital companionship, and emotional bond with children) were found for empty nesters to restore their parental role loss. Conclusion This study could provide preliminary information for the family life cycle studies in later stages in Chinese community. Some insights to the Chinese elderly services practices and policy making were discussed.

Author Information
Cheuk Yan Chu, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Paper Information
Conference: BAMC2021
Stream: Ageing Studies

This paper is part of the BAMC2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon