This chapter argues that most work on parent-child relations in later life has been triggered by debates on the role of the family in modern society rather than by an interest in building systematic knowledge about the nature and significance of parent-child relationships. It suggests that family supports may be given more weight in the near future because of recent trends to remove various types of support from the public domain. Past research on parents and children has taken two distinct directions. One body of work has focused on young children and their parents. Parents and children not only share more life years than ever before, they also increasingly find themselves part of an intergenerational context that includes multiple parent-child links. Data on parent-child relations in adulthood have often been created because of a wider set of social or political concerns. This research has evolved through three distinct phases, responding to key social issues that emerged in four decades.