LiveScience reports on a study of relationships between adult children and parents across six developed nations. According to the study:
American families were more than twice as likely as those living anywhere else to have so-called disharmonious relationships, or those defined by strong negative feelings, such as disagreement and tension, without any strong positive feelings, including feelings of closeness and amicability.
The authors suggested some of this conflict may come from welfare systems – if adult children feel they need to care for their parents and older parents need to ask for help, tensions may rise.
But the authors also note the differences in cultural values. This makes sense to me: American children, in particular, are taught from a relatively young age that they should be independent from their parents. While this is perhaps most obvious in the teenager and college years, it carries through into adulthood. American mobility probably plays a role (cell phone calls and Facebook relationships to cover the distance probably don’t carry the same weight) as families scatter over time.