“I Didn’t Expect to Learn as Much as I Did”: Rewards of Caregiving in Young Adulthood

Natalie D. Pope, Paula K. Baldwin, Jacquelyn J. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


While much attention is given to unpaid caregivers in midlife, there is a notable gap in the literature regarding young adults in family caregiving roles. Although two out of 5 family caregivers are between the ages of 18 and 40, we know relatively little about these younger relatives providing support to ill and disabled family members. Understanding the experiences of this under-researched population is critical to effective social service provision for this new wave of caregivers. In addition, the challenges associated with caregiving are well documented, yet examining the positive aspects of caregiving is necessary to provide a balanced picture of caregiving. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the gains experienced by family caregivers in young adulthood. In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with a diverse sample of 22 individuals who were (or had previously been) caregivers while in young adulthood. Analysis of the data resulted in identification of four themes concerning gains experienced by young adult caregivers: a strengthening of family relationships, character growth, personal satisfaction in the care provided, and material benefit. This study sheds some understanding on rewards experienced by a subgroup of family caregivers who has received little attention—young adult caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Caregiving
  • Qualitative
  • Rewards
  • Young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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