Article

Longer-term adjustment in children of divorce: Converging findings and implications for practice

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Abstract

Reviews research on the impact of divorce on the long-term adjustment of children and adolescents. Variables associated with postdivorce outcomes include conflict, the adjustment of the custodial parent, the relationship with the noncustodial parent, child-rearing practices and child care, remarriage, and the type of custody arrangement. It is suggested that a balanced relationship with each parent that incorporates relevant aspects of the child's life should be developed after divorce. Parents should understand that it is the conditions created by divorce rather than divorce itself that determine their child's adjustment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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... In a review of research on the adjustment of children following a divorce, Kelly (1988) suggested that the clinical literature of the effects of divorce has "emphasized pathological findings more so than indications of adaptive coping" (Kelly, 1988, p. 130) and has led to a generalization of such research to the larger population of divorcing parents. "The resultant intermingling of sound data, unreliable data, clinical observation, social myth, and unsubstantiated or irrelevant theory has created confusion, strongly voiced opinion, and unevenness in information available to parents, clinicians, schools, lawyers, courts, and the media" (Kelly, 1988, p. 120). ...
... "The resultant intermingling of sound data, unreliable data, clinical observation, social myth, and unsubstantiated or irrelevant theory has created confusion, strongly voiced opinion, and unevenness in information available to parents, clinicians, schools, lawyers, courts, and the media" (Kelly, 1988, p. 120). Predivorce relationships in a family were heterogeneous and the relationship between the [outtial for the Education of the Gifted mother and father, both before and after the divorce, was a better predictor of the post-divorce adjustment of children (Kelly, 1988). Child-rearing practices, child care, education of parents, type of custody arrangement, remarriage, and economic status, age of each child at the time of divorce, the sex of children and their custodial parents, and a child's own psychological strengths and weaknesses all contribute to the success of a child's long-term adjustment to the divorce of parents. ...
... Child-rearing practices, child care, education of parents, type of custody arrangement, remarriage, and economic status, age of each child at the time of divorce, the sex of children and their custodial parents, and a child's own psychological strengths and weaknesses all contribute to the success of a child's long-term adjustment to the divorce of parents. Parents and professionals need to understand that it is not the divorce, per se, that determines a child's adjustment; rather it is the conditions and agreements created by parents both before and after a divorce (Kelly, 1988). ...
Article
Children who have experienced the divorce of their parents may well comprise an underserved population in special programs for gifted students. Statistics gathered in the early part of this century may have conditioned educators to generalize that, in spite of social changes, most gifted children live in intact, middle to upper-middle class families. The purpose of this article is to present a review of the literature on characteristics of the families of gifted children, especially the marital status of the biological parents, to infer some possible connections with literature on teacher expectations and to teacher and peer perceptions of children of divorce. Ultimately, we urge educators to a) reject the stereotypical image of the families of gifted children, and b) do further research to update data bases and inferences concerning the families of gifted children.
... As a result, there is perhaps no issue at the interface of psychiatry and the law that has grown more in volume, permutations of detail, and hostile conflict than the law in regard to child custody, child access, and perhaps parental responsibility and financial obligations (Hyde 1984). This has occurred in the context of the recently burgeoning social sci ence research data on children and families undergo ing the process and effects of divorce, especially high conflict custody divorce cases, which pose a significant workload for the courts (Behrman 1994;Hethering ton 1989;Kelly 1988;RosebyandJohnston 1998;Wallerstein 1991). ...
... For example, in some jurisdictions there is a clear preference that mediators work toward effecting an agreement on joint legal custody. The chief rationale given by those who prefer joint custody is the belief that it benefits the children and some studies do support that view (Clingempeel & Reppucci, 1982;Ilfeld, Ilfeld, & Alexander, 1982), although other studies do not (see Kelly, 1988b for a review of the research on custody arrangements and post divorce adjustment of the children). It is not always clear, however, where the threshold lies for focusing on a sole custody settlement. ...
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Divorce mediators, attorneys, judges, and psychologists approach the issues in marriage dissolution from disparate vantage points. Legal niceties, actuarial acrobatics, and egosaving mechanisms tend to dominate the proceedings. Too often, however, some of the professionals have neither the training nor the experience to recognize the potential impact of such decisions on the children of divorce. The children rarely have an advocate whose sole task it is to make certain that their “best interests” are truly served. Questions are raised and suggestions for research are offered in an effort to reduce children's victimization and enable them to emerge as winners.
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Nearly one million children per year are faced with the transition of divorce. The needs of the divorcing family require a great deal of attention and support. More often than not, parents are overwhelmed and focus on their own needs during this transition and may often use the children to this end. The repercussions from this can be devastating to the children. At the time of divorce, children are vulnerable and unable to speak for themselves. This paper examines and discusses divorce mediation, separation trauma, separation anxiety, and what the authors term transition anxiety. A child assessment process is presented that helps therapists, divorce mediators, and parents sift through the problems, broaden their perspective and focus on the needs of the children during this crucial time.
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In recent years, the most dramatic change in family life has been observed in the rising rate of divorce. Especially in Western countries, more than one million children experience parental divorce and this has given rise to studies that seek answers to the questions of what the possible long-term and short-term effects of divorce on children may be and how they can be coped with. In this study, studies in the Western countries and the restricted number of studies in Turkey, which has a very different cultural background, on the possible adverse effects of divorce on children are reviewed with a view to introducing the existing findings to the relevant literature in Turkey. Within this framework, the impact of divorce on children's behaviour and adjustment problems, the parenting styles they perceive and the attachment styles they develop in the different periods of their lives are examined in the given order. While investigating into the possible effects of divorce on children during their childhood and in the later stages of their lives, the possible interaction of divorce with the variables of age, sex, and perceived social support is taken into consideration. As a result, in the light of the research findings of studies conducted both in the Western countries and in Turkey, it is observed that divorce may have detrimental effects on the levels of behaviour and adjustment problems of children, the parenting styles they perceive and the attachment styles they develop, and that these effects may vary depending on the children's sex, age, and the social support they perceive from their environment. On the other hand, another finding obtained from the study indicates that the possible negative impacts of divorce on children may be alleviated provided that favourable conditions are offered to them in the post-divorce period.
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A 27-item checklist of reasons for divorce was administered to 207 men (aged 23–78 yrs) and 230 women (aged 21–68 yrs) divorcing in the mid-1980s. Factor analysis revealed 9 dimensions underlying the checklist responses. The most frequently cited factors were unmet emotional needs/growing apart, lifestyle differences or boredom with the marriage, and high-conflict demeaning relationships. Statistically significant sex, age, and socioeconomic differences were found. Correlates between the factors and individual psychological functioning, parental functioning, and the emotional ambiance of the divorce reflected diversity among the divorcing population and implications for legal and mental health practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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A nationwide survey of practitioner-level mediators (n = 253) was conducted to determine their views on the effectiveness of divorce education programs for parents on both the process and the outcome of divorce mediation. Over three-quarters of the respondents reported that divorce education programs were available in their communities, most typically run by the local court or by an independent, nonprofit organization, and over half are mandatory. Over half of the mediators report that they do formal divorce education with clients at least sometimes. Perceived impacts on the mediation process and outcome included greater focus on the children, more cooperation and better communication skills demonstrated by the parents, fewer sole custody parenting plans, and a trend toward less time required to reach agreement. Modal responses indicated that mediators generally believe divorce education is appropriate for highly conflicted and power-imbalanced couples but is less so for couples involved in substance or spousal abuse. Just over two-thirds believe divorce education should be mandatory for all divorcing couples with children. Results are discussed in terms of programmatic needs.
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This paper explores the complexities of medical social work undertaken with stepfamilies caring for a child suffering from cancer. Although there is a growing literature dealing with the psycho-social effects of childhood cancer, there is an unexamined assumption that children are cared for by their birth parents within a traditional nuclear family. It is argued that the paediatric oncology social worker is challenged increasingly to develop understandings and modes of intervention which are appropriate and sympathetic to the particular issues facing stepfamilies. Using a systemic and chronological framework from referral and diagnosis through to bereavement, the authors identify challenges for the stepfamily, corresponding implications for social work practice, and questions for future research.
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Divorce mediation has made advancements in the divorce process. Divorcing couples are now faced with an option that empowers and supports them during and after the divorce. Nearly one million children are affected by divorce each year. These children are unable to speak for themselves. Parents are prone to inaccurately assess their children's needs during a divorce. They often feel overwhelmed and focus on themselves. They may even use their children to this end. The authors want mediators to broaden the scope of divorce mediation to include a child assessment. It will serve as an objective tool that will give the divorcing couple vital information to help them make informed decisions. It will protect their most important assets, their children.
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The available research in the mediation arena regarding child custody disputes indicates a lack of and growing need for effective intervention techniques. The authors present practicing mediators with a specific intervention model for interviewing, safeguarding, and empowering children in the process of mediating custody disputes. The mediation model utilizes a structured, strategic, and process-oriented approach with a family systems theoretical orientation and may be used in private or court-connected settings. The model presented here goes beyond the child-centered interview norm to the inclusion of the child in the process to assist parents in decision making. The model supports the current California statute under Family Code Section 3023, which states that “if a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody, the court shall consider and give due weight to the wishes of the child in making an award of custody or modification.” The model does, however, maintain the position that the final decision continues to lie with the parents or the courts and not the child.
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The empirical literature concerning the developmental consequences of postdivorce custody arrangements for children age 5 and younger is summarized with a focus on implications for practitioners and researchers. A developmental-ecological model is used to organize the review. Key variables include socioeconomic resources, mother-child relationship, father-child relationship, mothers' and fathers' adjustment, cooperation and conflict within the parental alliance, the extended family network, and the day care environment.
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The ways in which children perceive and respond to parental divorce vary by age, gender, level of parental conflict, caretaking arrangements, individual personality and resilience, availability of support networks, and, of special concern here, their level of cognitive development. Piagetian theory necessarily serves as the underpinning of the discussion, which is amplified by research. The importance of professionals being aware of the impact of cognitive maturity on children's perceptions and consequent responses is stressed in the conclusion.
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This article reviews psychosocial factors that may influence the custodial and access arrangements for children during separation, divorce and remarriage. Custodial arrangements for children following the divorce of their parents are discussed. Elements to consider in determining the custodial arrangement that provides for the best interests of children include child, adult, interpersonal and social environmental factors. It is recommended that all of these factors be considered in drafting a custodial agreement that will serve the best interest of children following a marital and family breakup or remarriage.
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The proliferation of educational programs for separated and divorcing parents has created an emerging field of practice. This article examines core questions of professional responsibility, accountability, standards, and practices that must be addressed to advance the development of the field.
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This article proposes a critical framework from which to view the fairness of both mediation and mediated agreements. Six external factors of fairness are examined, including simple success at reaching an agreement, compliance with the agreement, cost of the agreement, the efficiency through which the agreement is reached, access to justice presented to disputants, and the stability of the agreement over time. Also examined are four internal factors of fairness, including others' needs, relational development, satisfaction with mediation, and the psychological effects of mediation.
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The purpose of this study was to assess any differences in psychosocial problems among adolescents living with both parents, or with their mother or their father. Any benefits of living with a same-sex parent compared to a parent of the opposite sex, was also analysed. A total of 1,686 adolescents aged 14-15 years participated from 29 schools in Hordaland county, including schools in downtown Bergen and more rural areas. The findings revealed significantly more psychosocial problems among the adolescents living with one parent compared to both parents. Significant differences were also observed between adolescents living in mother custody compared to father custody, indicating more problems among the latter group. Furthermore, girls living with their father had significantly higher levels of psychological symptoms, compared to boys in father custody. Similarly, boys living with their father were involved in more stealing behavior than girls in father custody. However, residence arrangement accounted for only a limited proportion of the variance in the adolescents' psychosocial problems, indicating large within-group variance and overlap between the different custody groups.
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The Children of Separation and Divorce Center developed a parenting seminar that presents a non-adversarial approach to separation and divorce. The seminars focus one helping parents to develop knowledge and skills which will in turn help their children adjust to divorce. Analysis of the results of the program one year later indicate that parents are retaining pertinent child development and divorce related information about their children. The parenting seminars enabled parents to increase their understanding of the impact of divorce on their children, and to gain critical skills with which to help their children cope with divorce.
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The present paper reports on the findings of a research project involving a literature review and telephone interviews with children whose parents had separated or divorced. The aim of the research was to hear children's accounts of their experiences and needs during the transition in order to inform the development of a child-centred model of service delivery. The author recommends a number of strategies to assist service providers to enhance the wellbeing of children experiencing family separations.
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Research results on joint custody have changed and a consensus has emerged in the psychological literature which suggests that joint custody should be a rebuttable presumption of the court. Twenty states currently have joint custody as either a presumption or a preference. The available literature also supports the following conclusions: (1) Non-custodial parents are often intentionally victimized through visitation denial, and children are hurt when the relationship with either parent is broken in that manner; (2) Children adjust much better to divorce in joint custody compared to sole custody situations; (3) Children's attachment bonds to both parents are essential for healthy development, and those bonds should be protected by the courts; (4) Joint custody leads to much higher compliance with financial child support obligations; (5) Mothers are much better adjusted and supported more in joint custody situations; (6) Litigation and relitigation is lower in states which have a presumption for joint custody; (7) Joint custody is the preferred option in high conflict situations, because it helps reduce the conflict over time-and that is in the best interests of children.
Chapter
Divorce has become a common experience for children in the United States, where one out of every two is likely to undergo a parental divorce before the age of 18 (see Emery, 1988; Furstenberg, 1990). The high divorce rate has been viewed with alarm by many because there long has been a perception that “broken” homes adversely affect children’s adjustment. Early investigations of the effects of divorce on children appeared to support the idea that children from divorced homes were more poorly adjusted than those from intact families, but more recent investigations have gone beyond this simple comparison to investigate processes that lead to better or worse outcomes. In this chapter we examine research on children’s adaptation to divorce. To provide a context for our analysis, we begin by summarizing the epidemiology of divorce in the United States and research on the effects of divorce on children. The bulk of the chapter then examines children’s adaptation to divorce in relation to four important questions: What increases the stressfulness of divorce for children? What helps children cope more effectively? What interventions exist to facilitate children’s adjustment after divorce? What do we still need to learn about children’s adaptation after divorce? 1960s and 1970s (Cherlin, 1981). Some demographers report that the rate leveled off in the 1980s, but others argue that it has continued to rise (see Castro Martin & Bumpass, 1989).
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This study reviews program materials being used in over half of the U. S. counties that have documented court-connected educational programs for divorcing parents. Program documents were examined to determine sources of materials, conceptual foundations, topics presented, teaching strategies, and evaluation efforts. Data analysis identified 50 different topic areas covered by programs, reliance on passive or limited parental involvement teaching strategies, and formative, rather than summative, evaluation efforts. Recommendations for the design of court-connected divorce education programs are included.
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This study aimed to evaluate Comprehensive Croup Therapy Program developed for children and mothers of divorced families. The research questions were to determine first, any differences between program participants and non-participant in the areas of life wellbeing, attitude towards divorce, self-esteem, and communication skills as a result of this program; and second the durability of these effects three months after implementation of the program. The subjects of this study were 41 children and 14 mothers of the divorced families. Among them, 18 children and 6 mothers, including 5 mother-child dyads were assigned to experimental group, while 23 children and 8 mothers, including 8 mother-child dyads, to control group. Both groups received pre-and post-test evaluation but experimental group additionally received a follow-up test. The data were analyzed by t-test, Mann-Whitney U Test, Wilcoxon Matched-Pairs Signed-Ranks Test and qualitative analysis. The results showed that therapy Program enhanced the life wellbeing of both child and mother participants significantly, and this effect lasted for at least for three months after the termination of the program. Second, though the effects were not statistically significant, child and mother participants' attitude towards divorce, self-esteem, and communication skills between mother and child changed positively after the program and these effects lasted for over three months.
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The study was designed to identify the factors which predict psychological adjustment among 15 to 18-year-old adolescents whose parents have divorced. Psychosocial adjustment was assessed by the Youth Self Report (Achenbach, 1978, 1991). Predictors included the type of custody arrangement, the psychological adjustment of the custodial parent, factors affecting the adolescent's relationship with the non-custodial parent, demographic characteristics, stressful life events during the two years following the divorce, availability of social support, and family adaptability and cohesion. New York City high school students from divorced (n = 221) and intact (n = 215) families completed the survey instrument. Results indicated that the adjustment of adolescents from divorced families was related positively to the psychological adjustment of the custodial parent, the availability of social support, and family adaptability and cohesion. Adolescent adjustment was related negatively to the degree to which the parents displayed anger or physical abuse before and after the separation, and to the number of stressful life changes following the divorce. The factors predicting the adjustment of adolescents from intact families were similar.
Chapter
Dramatic transformations in family demographics pose unprecedented challenges for family law and policy. Demographers predict that just half of all U.S. children born in the 1980s will grow up residing with both parents (Bumpass & Sweet, 1989). For other girls and boys in this generation, legal custody standards and parental responsibilities are the focus of active policy deliberation. What family environments will best promote the welfare of American children? The last decade witnessed a revolution in child custody standards. Over 40 states have now enacted legislation that permits joint custody or shared parenting (Folberg, 1991). In the wake of this change, custody standards are the subject of rancorous debate among legal theorists and policymakers (Bartlett & Stack, 1991). Some argue that joint custody has not fulfilled its promise and has resulted in unintended consequences for family members.
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The role of parental divorce in young adult adjustment has been overlooked in the divorce and developmental literature. This study addresses the association between recent parental divorce and mental health outcomes in young adults aged 18 to 23. Divorce decrees and driver's license registries in a single state were used to draw a sample of 485 White young adults, half of whom had experienced parental divorce within 15 months of the interview and the other half whose parents were still married. Comparison of the two groups indicated that at the bivariate level, parental divorce was associated with poorer mental health outcomes, but only among females. Furthermore, multivariate models estimating depression levels among these youth indicated that the significant effect of parental divorce on females was eliminated once parents' past marital quality was considered. Finally, the analyses indicated that dissatisfaction with current friendships or intimate relationships was predictive of greater depression in both sexes.
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This column presents issues that affectfamilies undergoing separation, divorce, and remarriage, including single parenting and stepfamilies. If you have specific areas or questions that you would like discussed in this column please write to: James H. Bray, Department of Family Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 5510 Greenbriar, Houston, TX 77005, or call (713) 798-7751.
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The relation between young people 'perceptions of the reasonsfortheirparents 'divorces and their own feelings of security in romantic relationships was explored in this study. Eighty-one young persons from divorced homes completed the Reasons for Parental Divorce Questionnaire (RPDQ) developed specifically for this study and self-report instruments regarding attachment style, as measured by the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ) (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) and the Relationships Scale Questionnaire (RSQ) (Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994). The majority (73%) of young people in this study described insecure attachment styles. As expected, perceptions of why parents divorced were significantly related to young persons'attachment outcomes. Reasons for divorce involving expressions of overt anger; the involvement of the children, and extramarital affairs were most important in differentiating secure and insecure young persons. Thus, these results indicate that there may be meaningful connections between young people 's understandings of theirparents 'divorces and their own romantic relational perspectives.
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The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of parental divorce on young adult development. One hundred twenty-five participants provided demographic information and completed the PAFS-Q (college version) and the conflict subscale of the Family Environment Scale. Results indicate that parental divorce and family conflict significantly affect developmental task attainment. The interactions between sex and age and family structure (i.e., single-parent or stepfamily) were also significant predictors of post-divorce task attainment. Implications of these results for therapists as well as recommendations for future research are provided.
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We examine the social scientific evidence regarding one question increasingly addressed in legal scholarship and in custody cases: Are children who live with their same-sex parent in a better situation than their peers who live with an opposite-sex parent? After evaluating the current research on the same-sex hypothesis, we extend this literature by analyzing three data sets (National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, High School and Beyond, and the General Social Survey). We focus on a broader array of socioemotional, academic, and personality variables than those previously studied to explore the implications of same-sex parenting on adolescence and adulthood. We find virtually no evidence of a benefit from hiving with a same-sex parent. This study represents the most complete test to date of, and rebuttal to, the same-sex argument.
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With the prevalence of divorce in our country, there is a serious need of services for divorcing families to be readily available and offered in a manner to increase the use of the services. Early intervention with the divorcing family is critical to help alleviate levels of parental conflict and decrease potential litigation. This article is an evaluation of the first year of court-mandated parenting psychoeducational workshops. The results demonstrate the positive effects of the workshops for most divorcing parents in terms of levels of ongoing conflict between parents, children's adjustment as observed by the parents, parents' adjustment, and parents' ability to settle the legal issues of the divorce and keep the children out of the middle of the conflict.
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This study examines the relationship of parental divorce to the performance of Naval Academy Midshipman. Parental Status was determined by the ACE survey, which is completed in the plebe year. Parent Status of midshipmen is merged with Institutional Research Data to determine effects of parental divorce on midshipmen performance. For the purposes of the study, numerous aspects of performance are measured: (1) academic grade point average, (2) military grade point average, (3) conduct, (4) attrition rates, (5) participation in varsity athletics, and (6) leadership responsibilities. The common expectation is that midshipmen from divorced families will perform lower than midshipmen from intact families. Lower performance was noted in academic and military grade point averages, attrition, and participation in varsity athletics among midshipmen from divorced families. No significant difference in performance was noted in conduct or leadership responsibilities.
Article
This paper is a review of children's postdivorce adjustment in relation to individual, familial, social and cultural contingencies. A systems perspective is adopted with children's adjustment being viewed as a dynamic ongoing process and causation perceived as circular. Research, interventive and treatment implications are discussed in this framework.
Article
This article describes the Parent Education and Custody Effectiveness Program (P.E.A.C.E.), a series of interdisciplinary educational seminars for persons going through the divorce process; reports on the results of three P.E.A.C.E. Program pilot studies that occurred in New York State; and describes the crucial role of mental health professionals in this program.
Article
Perhaps there are advantages, at this stage of our knowledge, to be looking for the adaptive mechanisms of divorcing families where children are involved, rather than focusing primarily on concepts of risk, dysfunction, and disaster. Perhaps what is truly remarkable is that divorcing families are not more disturbed, given the stigmatization, the uncharted nature of this complex upheaval with little normative frame, and diminished financial resources. As a modest offering in this regard, a 3-year longitudinal study is presented of a nonclinical postseparation family with an adolescent who neither entered nor required treatment. Specifically, their successful resolutions invented for dealing with day-to-day divorce dilemmas and challenges are explored.
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