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The Myth of the High Rate of Divorce

The Myth of the High Rate of Divorce


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A few years ago, my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. It is the second marriage for both of us and the relationship has only grown stronger over the years, teaching me more about love and trust and dependence then I ever imagined.

Reaching this special “silver moment” spurred me to look around and think about the number of friends we have who also have great second marriages and led me to question the alleged statistic that more than 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce. I also thought about how many friends we have who are still in their original marriages and appear to be very happy. Thus, I decided it was time to do some research on divorce rates.

In the process of preparing for this article, I learned what I had long suspected. The commonly quoted numbers are overstated myths, the more accurate numbers reflect complex factors, and that our society really has two very separate divorce rates, a lower rate (by half) for college-educated women who marry after the age of 25 and a much higher rate for poor, primarily minority women who marry before the age of 25 and do not have a college degree. (Most of the research focused on women; the little I read about men suggested similar outcomes.)

The Statistics

A false conclusion in the 1970s that half of all first marriages ended in divorce was based on the simple but completely wrong analysis of the marriage and divorce rates per 1,000 people in the United States. A similar abuse of statistical analysis led to the conclusion that 60 percent of all second marriages ended in divorce.

These errors have had a profound impact on attitudes about marriage in our society and it is a terrible injustice that there wasn’t more of an effort to get accurate data (essentially only obtainable by following a significant number of couples over time and measuring the outcomes) or that newer, more accurate and optimistic data isn’t being heavily reported in the media.

It is now clear that the divorce rate in first marriages probably peaked at about 40 percent for first marriages around 1980 and has been declining since to about 30 percent in the early 2000s. This is a dramatic difference. Rather than viewing marriage as a 50-50 shot in the dark it can be viewed as having a 70 percent likelihood of succeeding. But even to use that kind of generalization, i.e., one simple statistic for all marriages, grossly distorts what is actually going on.

The key is that the research shows that starting in the 1980s education, specifically a college degree for women, began to create a substantial divergence in marital outcomes, with the divorce rate for college-educated women dropping to about 20 percent, half the rate for non-college educated women. Even this is more complex, since the non-college educated women marry younger and are poorer than their college grad peers. These two factors, age at marriage and income level, have strong relationships to divorce rates; the older the partners and the higher the income, the more likely the couple stays married. Obviously, getting a college degree is reflected in both these factors.

Thus, we reach an even more dramatic conclusion: That for college educated women who marry after the age of 25 and have established an independent source of income, the divorce rate is only 20 percent!

Of course, this has its flip side, that the women who marry younger and divorce more frequently are predominately black and Hispanic women from poorer environments. The highest divorce rate, exceeding 50 percent, is for black women in high-poverty areas. These women clearly face extraordinary challenges and society would do well to find ways to reduce not just teen pregnancies but early marriages among the poor and develop programs that train and educate the poor. Those will not only delay marriage but provide the educational and financial foundation required to increase the probability of a marriage being successful. Early marriage, early pregnancy, early divorce is a cycle of broken families that contributes significantly to maintaining poverty. The cost to our society is enormous.

Here is some additional data about divorce in first marriages before moving on to the limited data available about second marriages. Divorce rates are cumulative statistics, i.e., they don’t occur at a single moment in time but add up over the years of marriage and do so at different rates. After reviewing numerous sources, it appears that about 10 percent of all marriages end in divorce during the first five years and another 10 percent by the tenth year. Thus, half of all divorces are within the first ten years. (Keep in mind this is mixing the disparate college vs. non-college group rates.)

The 30 percent divorce rate is not reached until the 18th year of marriage and the 40 percent rate is not reached until the 50th year of marriage!

Thus, not only is the rate of divorce much lower than previously thought but at least half of all divorces occur within the first ten years and then the rate of divorce slows dramatically. Since the divorce rate for women married by 18 is 48 percent in the first ten years and that group, once again, is primarily poor, minority women, the rate for educated couples is much less during those first ten years.

No wonder the divorce rate in Massachusetts is the lowest in the country. We have the highest percentage of college graduates. That explains why I have so many first marriage friends!

Finding meaningful data about the divorce rates for second marriages was difficult. But knowing that the rate for first marriages has been grossly overstated and poorly understood for decades suggested a likely similar outcome for the data on second marriages.

One report indicated that the divorce rate for remarried, white women is 15 percent after three years and 25 percent after five years. This ongoing study indicated a definite slowing of the rate over time but did not have enough years measured to draw more long-term conclusions. However, it did indicate that the same factors with first divorces were at play here.

Age, education, and income levels were also highly correlated with the outcomes of second marriages. For example, women who remarried before the age of 25 had a very high divorce rate of 47 percent, while women who remarried over the age of 25 only had a divorce rate of 34 percent. The latter is actually about the same for first marriages and likely also would prove to be an average of different rates based socioeconomic factors.

Thus, my take on this limited amount of data is that divorce rates for second marriages may not be very different than those for first marriages. So my small sample of friends, who remarried older, had college degrees, and joint incomes, is probably not a distorted view of the success rate of second marriages.

Cohabitation

In the course of gathering information about divorce rates, I came across a few articles describing the growing frequency of couples choosing cohabitation over marriage. I don’t have any figures that I consider accurate enough to report on the percentage of cohabiting couples but a July 24, 2007 Boston Globe article on cohabiting parents sheds some light and raises some serious concerns about this trend.

I must admit a bias here. From my professional experience, I believe cohabiting couples are afraid of the commitment that marriage requires. Certainly a piece of this is what I stated at the beginning of this article, that the myth of the divorce rate has placed a dark cloud over the institution of marriage.

The reason for my concern is the following data reported in the Globe article. There is a marked increase in births to cohabiting couples, up from 29 percent in the early 1980s to 53 percent in the late 1990s. When you compare what has happened to those relationships when the child is 2 years old, 30 percent of the cohabiting couples are no longer together while only 6 percent of the married couples are divorced. This is another serious societal problem as it contributes to the U.S. having the lowest rate of all Western countries, 63 percent, of children being raised by both biological parents.

In addition, the general data suggests that cohabiting couples break up at twice the rate of married couples. Of course, this kind of simple statistic hides many complex factors with regard to who actually constitutes the population of cohabiting couples and the likelihood that many choose to live together with no real intention of permanence. However, my main point here is the concern that many couples may be choosing cohabition over marriage because they actually believe that the institution of marriage is unhealthy and too risky, a conclusion that my review of divorce rates strongly disputes.

Conclusion

The historical belief that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce and that over 60 percent of all second marriages end in divorce appear to be grossly overstated myths. Not only is the general divorce rate most likely to have never exceeded 40 percent but the current rate is probably closer to 30 percent. A closer look at even these lower rates indicate that there are really two separate groups with very different rates: a woman who is over 25, has a college degree, and an independent income has only a 20 percent probability of her marriage ending in divorce; a woman who marries younger than 25, without a college degree and lacking an independent income has a 40 percent probability of her marriage ending in divorce.

Thus, factors of age, education, and income appear to play a significant role in influencing the outcome of marriages and that for the older, more educated woman, getting married is not a crapshoot but, in fact, it is highly likely to produce a stable, lifelong relationship.


The 50% divorce rate stat is a myth, so why won’t it die?

The divorce rate in America is rising. Do you think that statement is true? If you do, you’re not alone. As Claire Cain Miller recently pointed out in an article for The New York Times, we hear about the rising divorce rate in the news all of the time. This is curious, because as it happens, the divorce rate isn’t rising.

By most measures, the divorce rate in America has been declining since around 1980. You’d think that something as simple as counting the number of American marriages that end in divorce would not require the qualifier “by most measures,” but it turns out that there is no universally accepted method for doing the counting. For instance, the widely quoted 50% divorce rate in the US probably came from a best-guess prediction that has yet to come true, or from a shortcut method of comparing the number of divorces and marriages in the same year. This is not considered to be an accurate method for assessing the divorce rate because it does not compare equivalent groups. In 1980, for example, older couples may have been divorcing at a high rate because of the introduction of no-fault divorce laws, while younger couples might have been putting off marriage because more women were pursuing careers. Even if the number of marriages that year were twice the number of divorces, that is not the same thing as saying that half of all marriages end in divorce. As for the prediction model, Dr. Rose M. Kreider, a demographer in the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch of the Census Bureau, told the New York Times in 2005, “At this point, unless there’s some kind of turnaround, I wouldn’t expect any cohort to reach fifty percent, since none already has.”

Even if everyone could agree on the best way to calculate the divorce rate, complete demographic data about marriage and divorce are unfortunately no longer available for analysis. In 1996, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) stopped collecting yearly statistics on marriage and divorce due to budgetary considerations, and some states, such as California, do not report divorce rates. The Census Bureau can provide estimates based on questionnaire data, but this relies on self-report, and people are reluctant to provide information about marital status. The quality of data available for analysis is therefore weaker now than it has been in past years.

Despite the paucity of good data and arguments over statistical calculations, most social scientists and demographers would agree that divorce rates are declining or stable, that a 50% divorce rate has not yet come to pass, and that young couples today are so far on a course to have fewer divorces than their parents’ generation. Why, then, do we keep hearing about rising divorce rates in America?

One of the reasons is that a rising divorce rate fits the world view and agenda of some segments of our society, whereas a falling divorce rate doesn’t fit as neatly into anyone’s agenda. If you self-identify as conservative, you may have had a negative reaction to this article so far, because it seems to be saying, “High divorce rates are no big deal, and reports of the marriage crisis in America are overblown.” On the other hand, if you consider yourself to be liberal, you may be thinking, “Some couples need to get divorced. Should that be half the number of couples who are divorcing now or twice that number? I don’t know.” In other words, people who see divorce as a social scourge want to emphasize how dire the situation has become in America, and people who see divorce as a necessary evil don’t worry too much about the divorce rate.

This dynamic plays out in the popular press, where much of the news about marriage and divorce is derived from the National Marriage Project, founded at Rutgers University in 1997 and now based at the University of Virginia. A core mission of this organization is to “identify strategies to increase marital quality and stability.” In support of its mission, the National Marriage Project creates a sense of crisis around marriage and divorce rates and promotes marriage as a solution to a range of social problems (pdf).

According to Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, the media have become hooked on publications from the National Marriage Project as a quick and cheap sources of easily digested print. This would not be a problem if media outlets disclosed the biases of their source, but as noted in our book Sacred Cows, that doesn’t usually happen. For instance, between 2009 and 2012, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, USA Today and the New York Times all published articles originating from a report by the National Marriage Project claiming that the economic recession was saving marriages.

The evidence provided was that divorce rates fell between 2007 and 2008 after rising from 2005 levels. We have graphed the crude national divorce rate, or the number of divorces per 1000 members of the US population, for those years. Note that this measure of the divorce rate, like all measures, is flawed. Because it uses the total population as the base, it includes children and unmarried adults, which confuses interpretation a lower divorce rate could result from a baby boom, or more pertinent to the current situation in the US, a lower marriage rate. The other problem is that several states have discontinued reporting divorces, and missing state numbers could distort the overall national profile.

Bearing in mind these limitations, our chart does indeed demonstrate that the divorce rate declined after the great recession began in 2007. However, when taken in context of overall trends and year-to-year variability, this change in divorce rate does not seem significant enough to warrant multiple stories in major national newspapers

(California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota and Oregon have data missing from some of the years in the chart.)

Based upon rather odd logic, the director of the National Marriage Project, W. Bradford Wilcox, stated that thrift and meals at home were the cause of recession-strengthened marriages. It may well be that fewer people divorce during economic recessions the data on that subject are murky and conflicting. However, a one-year blip in the divorce rate should not be used as evidence that the divorce rate is rising any more than a subsequent blip should be used as evidence that economic hardship makes marriages stronger.

Promoting marriage is not a bad goal. Most people would like to be happily married. It is also completely reasonable to worry about so many American marriages ending in divorce. No matter what the circumstances, divorce is painful for families and communities. The problem is that social and political agendas have muddied the water so much that we can’t have reasonable discussions based on rational facts. We are all being misled, not just about the trajectory of divorce rates in America, but about every aspect of our lives that powerful special interest groups care to manipulate. In the words of sportscaster Vin Scully, statistics get used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.

In an ideal world, we could rely on a free press to present unbiased information in a thoughtful and measured fashion. We don’t live in that ideal world, but perhaps we can start by requesting improved transparency and disclosure by popular media about the biases of its sources. To that end, here is our disclosure: This article represents the opinions of two left-leaning egghead authors of a book about society’s attitudes surrounding marriage and divorce. Our goal is to promote rational discussion about marriage and family life in our country. Unfortunately, we can’t provide a single definitive statistical analysis of divorce, because none exists. But hopefully we have helped to clear up a small, persistent misapprehension: The divorce rate in America isn’t as high as 50%, and at least for the moment, it isn’t rising.


The Myth of the High Rate of Divorce

This past year my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. It is the second marriage for both of us and the relationship has only grown stronger over the years, teaching me more about love and trust and dependence then I ever imagined. Reaching this special "silver moment" spurred me to look around and think about the number of friends we have who also have great second marriages and led me to question the alleged statistic that 60+% of second marriages end in divorce. I also thought about how many friends we have who are still in their original marriages and appear to be very happy. Thus, I decided it was time to do some research on divorce rates.

In the process of preparing for this article, I learned what I had long suspected. The commonly quoted numbers are overstated myths, the more accurate numbers reflect complex factors, and that our society really has two very separate divorce rates, a lower rate (by half) for college-educated women who marry after the age of 25 and a much higher rate for poor, primarily minority women who marry before the age of 25 and do not have a college degree (most of the research focused on women the little I read about men suggested similar outcomes).

The Statistics:

A false conclusion in the 1970s that half of all first marriages ended in divorce was based on the simple but completely wrong analysis of the marriage and divorce rates per 1000 people in the U.S. A similar abuse of statistical analysis led to the conclusion that 60% of all second marriages ended in divorce. These errors have had a profound impact on attitudes about marriage in our society and it is a terrible injustice that there wasn't more of an effort to get accurate data (essentially only obtainable by following a significant number of couples over time and measure the outcomes) or that newer, more accurate and optimistic data isn't being heavily reported in the media.

It is now clear that the divorce rate in first marriages probably peaked at about 40% for first marriages around 1980 and has been declining since to about 30% in the early 2000s. This is a dramatic difference. Rather than view marriage as a 50-50 shot in the dark it can be viewed as a having 70% likelihood of succeeding. But even to use that kind of generalization, i.e., one simple statistic for all marriages, grossly distorts what is actually going on.

The key is that the research shows that starting in the 1980s education, specifically a college degree for women, began to create a substantial divergence in marital outcomes, with the divorce rate for college-educated women dropping to about 20%, half the rate for non-college-educated women. Even this is more complex, since the non-college educated women marry younger and are poorer than their college grad peers. These two factors, age at marriage and income level, have strong relationships to divorce rates the older the partners and the higher the income, the more likely the couple stays married. Obviously, getting a college degree is reflected in both these factors.

Thus, we reach an even more dramatic conclusion: That for college educated women who marry after the age of 25 and have established an independent source of income, the divorce rate is only 20%!
Of course, this has its flip side, that the women who marry younger and divorce more frequently are predominately Black and Hispanic women from poorer environments. The highest divorce rate, exceeding 50%, is for Black women in high poverty areas. These women clearly face extraordinary challenges and society would do well to find ways to reduce not just teen pregnancies but early marriages among the poor and develop programs that train and educate the poor, which will not only delay marriage but provide the educational and financial foundation that is required to increase the probability of a marriage being successful. Early marriage, early pregnancy, early divorce is a cycle of broken families that contributes significantly to maintaining poverty. The cost to our society is enormous.

Here is some additional data about divorce in first marriages before moving on to the limited data available about second marriages. Divorce rates are cumulative statistics, i.e., they don't occur at a single moment in time but add up over the years of marriage and do so at different rates. After reviewing numerous sources, it appears that about 10% of all marriages end in divorce during the first five years and another 10% by the tenth year. Thus, half of all divorces are within the first ten years. (Keep in mind this is mixing the disparate college-non-college group rates.) The 30% divorce rate is not reached until the 18th year of marriage and the 40% rate is not reached until the 50th year of marriage! Thus, not only is the rate of divorce much lower than previously thought but at least half of all divorces occur within the first ten years and then the rate of divorce slows dramatically. Since the divorce rate for women married by 18 is 48% in the first ten years and that group, once again, is primarily poor, minority women, the rate for educated couples is much less during those first ten years.

No wonder the divorce rate in Massachusetts is the lowest in the country. We have the highest percentage of college graduates. That explains why I have so many first marriage friends!

Finding meaningful data about the divorce rates for second marriages was difficult. But knowing that the rate for first marriages has been grossly overstated and poorly understood for decades suggested a likely similar outcome for the data on second marriages. One report indicated that the divorce rate for remarried, white women is 15% after three years and 25% after five years. This ongoing study indicated a definite slowing of the rate over time but did not have enough years measured to draw more long-term conclusions. However, it did indicate that the same factors with first divorces were at play here. Age, education, and income levels were also highly correlated with the outcomes of second marriages. For example, women who remarried before the age of 25 had a very high divorce rate of 47%, while women who remarried over the age of 25 only had a divorce rate of 34%. The latter is actually about the same for first marriages and likely also would prove to be an average of different rates based socioeconomic factors. Thus, my take on this limited amount of data is that divorce rates for second marriages may not be very different than those for first marriages. So my small sample of friends, who remarried older, had college degrees, and joint incomes, is probably not a distorted view of the success rate of second marriages.


Cohabitation:

In the course of gathering information about divorce rates, I came across a few articles describing the growing frequency of couples choosing cohabitation over marriage. I don't have any figures that I consider accurate enough to report on the percentage of cohabitating couples but a July 24, 2007 Boston Globe article on cohabitating parents sheds some light and raises some serious concerns about this trend.

I must admit a bias here. From my professional experience, I believe cohabitating couples are afraid of the commitment that marriage requires. Certainly a piece of this is what I stated at the beginning of this article, that the myth of the divorce rate has placed a dark cloud over the institution of marriage. The reason for my concern is the following data reported in the Globe article. There is a marked increase in births to cohabitating couples, up from 29% in the early 1980s to 53% in the late 1990s. When you compare what has happened to those relationships when the child is two years old, 30% of the cohabitating couples are no longer together while only 6% of the married couples are divorced. This is another serious societal problem as it contributes to the U.S. having the lowest rate of all Western countries, 63%, of children being raised by both biological parents.

In addition, the general data suggests that cohabitating couples break up at twice the rate of married couples. Of course, this kind of simple statistic hides many complex factors with regard to who actually constitutes the population of cohabitating couples and the likelihood that many choose to live together with no real intention of permanence. However, my main point here is the concern that many couples may be choosing cohabitation over marriage because they actually believe that the institution of marriage is unhealthy and too risky, a conclusion that my review of divorce rates strongly disputes.


Conclusion:

The historical belief that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and that over 60% of all second marriages end in divorce appears to be grossly overstated myths. Not only is the general divorce rate most likely to have never exceeded 40% but the current rate is probably closer to 30%. A closer look at even these lower rates indicate that there are really two separate groups with very different rates: a woman who is over 25, has a college degree, and an independent income have only a 20% probability of her marriage ending in divorce a woman who marries younger than 25, without a college degree and lacking an independent income has a 40% probability of her marriage ending in divorce.

Thus, factors of age, education, and income appear to play a significant role in influencing the outcome of marriages and that for the older, more educated woman, getting married is not a crap shoot but, in fact, it is highly likely to produce a stable, lifelong relationship.


The Myth of Divorce Following the Death of a Child

Experts on grief and loss often present the "myths of mourning" as a way of challenging commonly held beliefs and giving the bereaved more realistic and accurate information. We've all heard some of the myths, and you probably have a few you would add to this list:

  • Talking about the deceased only prolongs the grieving.
  • Children don't grieve.
  • Time heals.
  • Grieving follows orderly and predictable stages.
  • It's best to put the past behind you and get on with your life.

Despite a wealth of research to aid in our understanding, few bereaved people escape the influence of some of these myths. For many survivors, the coping talisman in the face of misinformation is simply thinking, “They have no idea they’ve never experienced anything even remotely like this.”

Harder to deal with, however, are the myths perpetuated by those who should know better, including professional caregivers. When it is our own grief counselor who advises us to stop visiting the grave, or our own support group leader who implies that we've been crying too much, our internal myth detector might be slower to respond.

One particularly frightening myth about parental bereavement is the myth that suggests that a high percentage of parents divorce after the death of a child. It is hard to imagine a more painful prediction following the death of a child than the suggestion that one's marriage is also at risk. Yet countless married survivors have been exposed to this myth in some form.

Myth Origins

Like many myths, nestled inside is a tiny kernel of information that snowballed into its current, unrecognizable form. One of the earliest books on grief and loss, groundbreaking at the time, was The Bereaved Parent by Harriet Schiff, published in 1977. It was the first of its kind, and bereaved parents everywhere found solace in the words of a woman who was also on the grief journey following the death of her ten-year-old son. Schiff was not a mental health professional, but a former reporter, able to articulate the perspective of a bereaved parent.

In the book's chapter entitled "Bereavement and Marriage," Schiff writes, "In fact, some studies estimate that as high as 90% of all bereaved couples are in serious marital difficulty within months after the death of their child." Schiff doesn't cite her sources, and subsequent analyses of the bereavement research of that time do not clearly indicate where that opinion might have originated. Yet somehow this relatively innocuous statement about marital strain became a divorce "fact." People began to perpetuate the notion that 90% of all marriages end in divorce following the death of a child.

Some subsequent references attributed this so-called fact to a 1985 article by Dr. Therese Rando published in Social Work magazine. Although the article provides one of the earliest scholarly examinations of the ways the death of a child can strain a marriage, the author makes no predictions of divorce in fact, the word divorce does not even appear in the article.

Some of the momentum of the divorce myth may be explained by a look at the culture of the time in which it began. The 1960s were characterized by a tendency toward challenging authority and breaking rules. Divorce rates skyrocketed in almost a single generation, peaking in 1981. Schiff's observation about how a child's death impacted marriage may have been seen by some as further evidence that the whole institution of marriage was crumbling.

Grief experts challenged the myth but there was little empirical evidence to help refute it. The impact of a child's death simply hadn't been studied to any significant degree. And on a personal micro level it's hard to challenge the myth when the devastation of the loss is, in itself, an isolating factor and creates a strain on one's own marriage.

But on a macro level, as difficult as the death of a child is, research has not found a link between parental bereavement and increased divorce rates. This is particularly significant in light of studies that suggest that the loss of an adult child results in more intense grief than the loss of any other family member. Given the intensity of grief following the death of a child, conventional wisdom would certainly suggest higher rates of divorce, another reason, perhaps, for the myth's durability.

Bereavement Research

In her review of the literature in 1998, Dr. Reiko Schwab, professor emeritus at Old Dominion University, found no evidence of higher divorce rates among bereaved parents. In fact, she noted relatively lower rates of divorce, less than 20%, which coincided with her own observations as a grief support group facilitator for bereaved parents.

A more extensive examination of existing data was presented in a paper published in Journal of Nursing Scholarship in 2003. The authors noted that only two out of more than 100 papers found evidence of higher divorce rates among bereaved parents. Other researchers have questioned the validity of the findings of those two studies, noting significant methodology problems.

In a 2006 study commissioned by The Compassionate Friends, parental divorce following the death of a child was found to be around 16%. The findings were consistent with an earlier study conducted by the group that showed equally low divorce rates among bereaved parents. Interestingly, less than half of those who were divorced following the death of their child felt that the death had contributed to the disintegration of the marriage.

Staying Together

In the paper on parental bereavement published in Journal of Nursing Scholarship in 2003, the authors take note of four contributing factors to marital stress: gender differences in grieving styles, quality of marriage prior to the child's death, cause and circumstances of death, and displacement of anger and blame onto the spouse. Experts agree that maintaining the ability to tolerate a partner's grieving style, keeping open lines of communication, developing a support system beyond that of one's partner, and making a commitment to remaining married in spite of the stress all contribute to marital survival.

It's hard to imagine that something as devastating as the loss of a child can have any consequences that are remotely positive. And it should be noted that there is, in fact, nothing positive about the death itself. But against all odds, some parents have experienced a deepening of their marital relationship. It is important to acknowledge that any positive effects stem from the actual struggle to cope with the tragedy and its aftermath, and not from the loss itself. The necessity of coping with the tragedy is what creates a new normal. And it is the struggle itself that forces parents to survive and brings about any positive changes, whether it is courage to persist in living, a deeper compassion for others, or a genuine desire to help others.

As terrible as it is, the death of a child serves as a shared trauma experience, which can have the effect of bringing a couple closer together. As one survivor noted, “It took a lot of work but we ended up bonding more. It was a choice that we made, plain and simple. We would not let the death tear us apart. We talked with other parents and learned that we had to grieve in our own time and our own way, not someone else telling us to just get over it.”

By Stephanie Frogge, MTS: Stephanie Frogge holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Texas Christian University and a master’s in Theological Studies from Brite Divinity School. She is the assistant director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue at The University of Texas at Austin. With more than thirty years of experience in the area of trauma response, Stephanie is the former National Director of Victim Services at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and served two years as the Director of Peer Support Services for TAPS.


What’s The Most Common Reason For Divorce?

No matter when it happens, she says, more often than not, it’s about disappointment. “People come into the marriage with unrealistic expectations of how it’s going to be, how they’re going to live, and when it comes down to everyday issues, money, children, jobs, it doesn’t happen the way you plan it.”

There are a few triggers that tend to start the ball rolling in Hindin’s experience, and almost all of them are rooted in money. But while finances are underlying in nearly every divorce situation, she explains, there are oftentimes other reasons for separations that play a role, too. “The major issues that I find [that predicate a divorce] are infidelity, drug/alcohol abuse or physical abuse, situations where people just can’t communicate anymore, or one party has control issues.”

A 2013 study supports Hindin’s experience, concluding that the most common reasons for divorce are:

  • lack of commitment to the partnership
  • infidelity
  • conflict or excessive arguing
  • domestic violence and substance abuse

And, of course, Fisher says, there’s situations when people quite simply fall out of love. “Romantic love is a very specific brain system, just like the fear system or the anger system or the startle system or the surprise system,” she explains. “It can become activated quite rapidly, and it can become less activated or deactivated almost instantly or gradually.”

But to understand that phenomenon, let’s back up to how people fall in love. “Romantic love is basically a drive. It is generated in a little factory near the very base of the brain called the ventral-tegmental area, and that’s where dopamine is made,” Dr Fisher explains. “Dopamine is sent to many brain regions when you’re madly in love, and that gives you the focus, motivation, optimism, and craving that’s so central to feeling romantic love.” When you look at it through this brain system lens, the logic follows that the same way you can stop being scared of something, you can stop being in love. It’s almost like a switch.

But it’s also important to note, Dr. Fisher continues, “that falling out of love doesn’t mean a marriage will end. It’s one of three brain systems that are associated with partnering. One is the sex drive second is these feelings of intense romantic love and the third is feelings of deep attachment to a partner.”

According to Fisher, it’s definitely possible to stay in love for a long time. But, people don’t actually expect to and you don’t have to in the same way. “They’re deeply attached, they still like the person’s sense of humor, they still like to make love to them, and there’s a comfortable relationship they’d like to keep,” explains Fisher.


Second Opinion

The new study may help reduce anxiety among parents of children with autism, says Geraldine Dawson, PhD, chief science officer of Autism Speaks and a research professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who reviewed the study results for WebMD.

''The 80% divorce figure has been part of official lore for decades," she says. "I think it may stem from the fact that we do know parents of children with autism are under tremendous stress."

''It's good news for families," Dawson says of the new study findings. "It really demonstrates that despite the fact that these families are going to be facing a lot of challenges, we don't have to assume that divorce is likely."

In helping parents of autistic children, Freedman tells them that communication is most important in dealing with the developmental disorder. Each parent should be allowed to express their frustrations, he says.

Getting outside support from family or friends is important too, he says.

While there is a tendency for parents to focus attention on the child and his needs, Freedman tells couples to schedule time for themselves regularly so they can tend to their marriage.


P1 First Person: The myths and realities of cops and divorce

In Police1 "First Person" essays, our Members and Columnists candidly share their own unique views of the world and insights on issues confronting cops today.

Editor's Note: In PoliceOne "First Person" essays, our Members and Columnists candidly share their own unique view of the world. This is a platform from which individual officers can share their own personal insights on issues confronting cops today, as well as opinions, observations, and advice on living life behind the thin blue line. This week&rsquos essay comes from PoliceOne Member Jeff A. Shannon, who in addition to being a cop, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LFMT). This essay originally appeared on Ofcr. Shannon's blog, one of the many police officer blogs we feature on PoliceOne. Do you want to share your own perspective with other P1 Members? Send us an e-mail with your story.

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The popularly-held belief that cops get divorced more than others is not supported by research. This fact does not mean we don’t get more divorces, only that there’s no good science to prove it. Policing does involve unique stresses and strains on marriages that we should be aware of.

Many conscientious young people considering a career in law enforcement want to know about the divorce rate of cops. Police forums are consulted, and internet searches performed with the simple question: What’s the deal with cops and divorce?

Let’s start with the Internet. God bless the Internet. Really. When I was in college two hundred years ago I couldn’t use the Internet for my school papers. I had to go to the library and then type the damn thing out with my typewriter. Man, was I excited when they came up with the auto-erase function (fewer bottles of white out).

But the Internet is also known for spreading myth like wildfire, which brings us back to the topic at hand. A quick check of the Internet would have us believing cops have a ridiculously high divorce rate. If you want to take Sheriff Ray Nash’s statement that the divorce rate for police officers is 20 to 50 times that of the general public, or police psychologist Goldfarb’s ominous and authoritative sounding statement that “All research shows police suffer a substantially higher divorce rate with estimates ranging from 60 to 75 percent,” you go right ahead.

When I looked into this question I wanted to know what researchers had to say. My answer: not much. As much as university professors and masters thesis writers love to study us cops, there’s a real gap here. However, a breath of fresh air can be found in Professor Michael Aamodt at the University of Arkansas. He isn’t interested in perpetuating myths of how screwed up cops are and then making money fixing us. He’s interested in the truth.

Aamodt was kind enough to forward me an advance copy of a project he did with Shawn P. McCoy, called “A comparison of law enforcement divorce rates with those of other occupations” which will be published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. McCoy and Aamodt did two things. First they reviewed the research (not opinion) on police divorce. What they found was that existing research on the topic is old. Really old . like from the 1960s. Then, they looked at census data to take a stab at divorce rates of cops compared to the general public. They concluded that the idea that divorce rates are unusually high for law enforcement workers is unfounded.

Police officers may, fact, have higher divorce rates. McCoy and Aamodt just found that there is no research supporting that conclusion at present. They admitted using census data for their research has some problems.

To conclude from all this that you don’t need to pay careful attention to how your law enforcement career may be harmful to your marriage would be quite a mistake. A bucket load of other research has shown that policing can be bad for your coronary arteries, abbreviate your life, and spills over into your marriage.

In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman (another guy with solid research to back up his opinions) writes, “Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power, there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.”

As a marriage therapist, I can say the police personality (cynical and controlling) and the nature of our job (my way or the highway) are not compatible with egalitarian marriages.

So, leaving aside the exact divorce rates of cops we can say police marriages have unique challenges. Like so many other threats to the wellness of law enforcement professionals, these challenges are manageable if we ask for help when we need it. If your marriage is going down the toilet seek help. Marital counseling is a good investment and one well discuss in the future.

About the author

The contents of First Person essays solely reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Police1 or its staff. First Person essays shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. Reference to any specific commercial products, process, or service by name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply any endorsement or recommendation. To submit a First Person essay, follow the instructions on the Police1 Article Guidelines for Authors page.


Autism Families: High Divorce Rate Is a Myth

May 19, 2010 -- Parents of autistic children often hear that the divorce rate in families with autism is 80%, but a new study debunks that figure as a myth.

"There really weren't any significant differences in terms of family structure when you consider children with autism and those without," says study researcher Brian Freedman, PhD, clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

"In fact what we found is that children with autism remained with both biological or adoptive parents 64% of the time, compared with children in families without autism, who remained [with both biological or adoptive parents] 65% of the time," Freedman tells WebMD.

"That debunks the myth of an 80% divorce rate," Freedman says. An 80% rate is roughly double the U.S. divorce rate for first marriages.

Freedman is due to present his findings Friday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia. About one in 110 children in the U.S. has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that include autism as well as Asperger's syndrome and other forms that involve difficulties in social relationships and communication.

The new finding, Freeman says, will hopefully relieve some of the stress parents of children with autism feel. Families he has counseled often tell him they feel they have gotten two diagnoses at once: a child with autism and a prediction of divorce, when they hear the oft-quoted figure of 80%.

"They talk about how disheartening that is, and how their relationship seems doomed," he tells WebMD.

While the figure of an 80% split-up rate among parents of children with autism is often talked about, Freedman says he searched for the original study and never found one. It may have originated from pure speculation and then was brought up again and again, with no solid evidence.

"Certainly studies of parents of children with autism talk about the extra stress," he says, so perhaps the leap was made that the stress led to an unusually high rate of divorce.

Structure of Families With Autism

Freedman examined data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, including a nationally representative sample of 77,911 children, ages 3 to 17.

He looked at whether the family structure was a two-parent household, with either biological or adoptive married partners, or was not traditional, such as a two-parent household including a stepparent, a household headed by a single parent, or other structures.

The percent of children with ASD living in a two-parent biological or adoptive household was close to the percent of children without ASD in such a family structure -- 64% vs. 65%.

That percent held even when the researchers took into account other factors that could have affected family structure, such as socioeconomic status or demographics.

The researchers also considered the severity of a child's autism and whether that had an impact on family structure. "That also did not seem to have an impact," Freedman tells WebMD.

When Freedman took into account co-existing psychiatric and other problems, such as ADHD or serious behavioral problems, in children with ASD, he found that the likelihood of living in a non-traditional family structure increased slightly.

"Those disorders in fact did seem to have implications for divorce," he says. Even so, he says, "I would not say it dampens the idea of debunking the 80% divorce rate." He points out that the overall percent of 64% of kids found to live in a traditional family structure includes those families whose children had both co-existing diagnoses and ASD and well as those children with ASD alone.

About 10% of children with ASD have one or more psychiatric diagnoses, and 83% have developmental diagnoses, according to a study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Second Opinion

The new study may help reduce anxiety among parents of children with autism, says Geraldine Dawson, PhD, chief science officer of Autism Speaks and a research professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who reviewed the study results for WebMD.

"The 80% divorce figure has been part of official lore for decades," she says. "I think it may stem from the fact that we do know parents of children with autism are under tremendous stress."

"It's good news for families," Dawson says of the new study findings. "It really demonstrates that despite the fact that these families are going to be facing a lot of challenges, we don't have to assume that divorce is likely."

In helping parents of autistic children, Freedman tells them that communication is most important in dealing with the developmental disorder. Each parent should be allowed to express their frustrations, he says.

Getting outside support from family or friends is important too, he says.

While there is a tendency for parents to focus attention on the child and his needs, Freedman tells couples to schedule time for themselves regularly so they can tend to their marriage.

One Family's Story

Julie Waldron remembers not only the shock she felt when her son Frankie, now 6, was diagnosed with autism at age 18 months, but how quickly someone told her that her marriage was at risk. She remembers hearing about an 85% divorce rate.

"You're shocked and in a way mourning the diagnosis of your child," she says. Hearing about the high divorce rate was a kind of double whammy, she says.

Even though they felt they were doing well, Waldron and her husband, Peter, decided to go to preventive marriage counseling. "We were mutually concerned that we could be doing damage to our relationship that we had no clue we were doing," he says.

QUESTION

Now the parents of three children, the Waldrons say the diagnosis of autism helped strengthen their marriage because they learned how to cope with the diagnosis and the marital stress it can bring, and to work together.

"You need to find what works for you and your spouse," Peter says. For them, he says, that meant Julie was "the CEO of our children" while he took charge of working and ensuring that their medical care and insurance was taken care of, with each informing the other about goings-on.


The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On

And when Bravo introduced its divorce reality show, “Untying the Knot,” this summer, an executive at the network called it “a way to look at a situation that 50 percent of married couples unfortunately end up in.”

But here is the thing: It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time. Even though social scientists have tried to debunk those myths, somehow the conventional wisdom has held.

Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.

About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce, according to data from Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist (who also contributes to The Upshot).

There are many reasons for the drop in divorce, including later marriages, birth control and the rise of so-called love marriages. These same forces have helped reduce the divorce rate in parts of Europe, too. Much of the trend has to do with changing gender roles — whom the feminist revolution helped and whom it left behind.

“Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women,” said William Doherty, a marriage therapist and professor of family social science at University of Minnesota, “so when you’re talking about changes in divorce rates, in many ways you’re talking about changes in women’s expectations.”

The marriage trends aren’t entirely happy ones. They also happen to be a force behind rising economic and social inequality, because the decline in divorce is concentrated among people with college degrees. For the less educated, divorce rates are closer to those of the peak divorce years.

Of college-educated people who married in the early 2000s, only about 11 percent divorced by their seventh anniversary, the last year for which data is available. Among people without college degrees, 17 percent were divorced, according to Mr. Wolfers.

Working-class families often have more traditional notions about male breadwinners than do the college-educated — yet economic changes have left many of the men in these families struggling to find work. As a result, many wait to achieve a level of stability that never comes and thus never marry, while others split up during tough economic times.

“As the middle of our labor market has eroded, the ability of high school-educated Americans to build a firm economic foundation for a marriage has been greatly reduced,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist and author of “Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America.” “Better-educated Americans have found a new marriage model in which both spouses work and they build a strong economic foundation for their marriage.”

Some of the decline in divorce clearly stems from the fact that fewer people are getting married — and some of the biggest declines in marriage have come among groups at risk of divorce. But it also seems to be the case that marriages have gotten more stable, as people are marrying later.

Ultimately, a long view is likely to show that the rapid rise in divorce during the 1970s and early 1980s was an anomaly. It occurred at the same time as a new feminist movement, which caused social and economic upheaval. Today, society has adapted, and the divorce rate has declined again.

In the 1950s and 1960s, marriage was about a breadwinner husband and a homemaker wife, who both needed the other’s contributions to the household but didn’t necessarily spend much time together. In the 1970s, all that changed.

Women entered the work force, many of their chores in the home became automated and they gained reproductive rights, as the economist Betsey Stevenson and Mr. Wolfers have argued in their academic work. As a result, marriage has evolved to its modern-day form, based on love and shared passions, and often two incomes and shared housekeeping duties.

The people who married soon before the feminist movement were caught in the upheaval. They had married someone who was a good match for the postwar culture but the wrong partner after times changed. Modern marriage is more stable because people are again marrying people suitable to the world in which we live.

“It’s just love now,” Mr. Wolfers said. “We marry to find our soul mate, rather than a good homemaker or a good earner.”

The delay in marriage is part of the story, allowing people more time to understand what they want in a partner and to find one. The median age for marriage in 1890 was 26 for men and 22 for women. By the 1950s, it had dropped to 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2004, it climbed to 27 for men and 26 for women.

Perhaps surprisingly, more permissive attitudes may also play a role. The fact that most people live together before marrying means that more ill-fated relationships end in breakups instead of divorce. And the growing acceptance of single-parent families has reduced the number of shotgun marriages, which were never the most stable of unions, notes Stephanie Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College and author of “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.”

Overall, the marriage trends resemble those in many other areas of American life. For people on the wealthier side of the class divide, life is better than it used to be in many ways. For people on the other side, the situation is much more complicated.

And the effects could last for decades, as the children of stable marriages grow up with both the immediate benefits and the role models for successful future relationships — while at the same time, record numbers of children grow up in one-parent households.


Artifacts Journal

In America, there is a traditionalist view on marriage where men and women are expected to marry. Marriage is viewed as a life-long contract that is not easily broken. When the contract is broken, the resulting divorce has an effect on the entire family. Children may be torn between parents, forced to live in one house and visit the other. The importance of this issue stems from the effect it may have on children. They may struggle in school due to the stress of experiencing a divorce. The question posed in this study is: when children experience parental divorce, does their academic performance decline as a result? This study covers the overall academic success, in terms of grade point average (GPA) for individuals going to college, who have divorced parents. Additionally, the topic of parent-child relationship may also be important when considering the academic achievement of the child or children.

The interest for this study is in finding the relationship between these two phenomena (parental divorce and parent-child relationship) in reference to college students’ academic achievement. Though many of these college students may have experienced a divorce earlier in childhood, it may still play a role in their everyday lives. In investigating this topic, the goal will be to answer whether or not a certain degree of academic deficits are prevalent during college. Colleges and universities are places of academic excellence, where those who lack parental support issues may struggle academically. These individuals may have trouble coping with the large amount of stress and personal freedoms that come with college life. To compare parental divorce and the relationship between the parent and child to academic success, we will survey students coming from families of divorce, as well as those of intact families. For the purpose of this study we define an intact family to be one in which the parents remain legally married and have not divorced.

This topic is reasonable and important, considering the high rate of divorce in the United States. Recent research has reported that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, leaving nearly one million children to experience this process (Amato, 2001). In terms of the research study, it is certainly plausible to survey students that have experienced parental divorce to evaluate their academic achievement. Given that data will be collected on a college campus, students who have experienced divorce will be readily available. In terms of our variables, academic status can be measured through GPA, while the relationship between the student and their parents can be measured by looking into how they communicate and the level of support that is available. Given the time constraints of this course, collecting data from a representative sample on campus is reasonable. Additionally, this topic is of interest to many people, considering the commonality of divorce.

As reported by Crary (2003), divorce rates are growing for couples that have been married more than 25 years. These long-lasting marriages leading to divorce may result in college students, experiencing a recent parental divorce. Thus, we expect that interest in completing this survey and contributing to research findings will be high. This topic is a relevant issue for the generation attending college, and further research may shed light on why college students with divorced parents may have a lesser level of academic achievement. Research on the effects of parental divorce on college students is currently overshadowed by research on the effects on children and adolescents. Additionally, little research has focused on the long-term effects of a parental divorce on a child (Bulduc, Caron, & Logue, 2007).

The U.S. Census of 2004 reported that 1.1 million adolescents experienced effects relating to divorce (Kreider, 2007). These adolescents are subject to many adverse effects from experiencing a divorce. Several studies reported that children of divorce have poorer outcomes than their counterparts from intact families, including more stress (McIntyre, Heron, McIntyre, Burton, & Engler, 2003), more problems with parents (Ruschena, Prior, Sanson, & Smart, 2005), dismal views on an effective marriage (Kirk, 2002), and low academic standing (Mulholland, Watt, Philpott, & Sarlin, 1991).

Research has found that while handling their own personal experience with a parental divorce, children may also worry about the parent coping with the new change (Wallerstein & Lewis, 2004). From this study, common topics these children worried about included whether the parent would re-marry, whether the child would get a new parent, and if the relationship between the child and the recently divorced parents would be negatively affected. Important to note, studies have shown that the percentage of individuals who have experienced parental divorce and are attending college is relatively low, approximately 16%-20% (Grant, Smith, Sinclair, & Salts, 1993).

For some, it is shown that individuals from divorced families are not as likely to go to college, in comparison to those with parents that have not divorced, or have an intact family (Aro & Palosaari, 1992 Wallerstein & Lewis, 2004). Additionally, Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) report that in addition to a lower likelihood of attending college, children that have experienced parental divorce were considerably less likely to complete a four-year degree.

One positive among students of divorced families is the ability to be resilient. Teens who have experienced divorce after getting accepted to college show advanced signs of coping strategies in dealing with stress, more so than an individual raised in an intact family (McIntyre, Heron, McIntyre, Burton, & Engler, 2003). It is shown that these teens have developed an advanced coping mechanism in the process of dealing with divorce, and even with this resiliency, the negative effects of divorce are evident. Though many teens are quick in adapting to the changes of a divorce, even ones possessing resiliency, infer that their parents’ divorce is one of the most difficult experiences of their lives (Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan, 1999).

Previous research has shown that most children experiencing parental divorce describe the process as stressful and add that this experience may result in anxiety and depression (Amato, 2001). According to Hetherington (1993), a divorce does not refer to one event, but is more accurately described as one event of a complex transition process. Similarly, the stresses taking place during and after a divorce are important to note and for some this stress is persistent (Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan, 1999). Thus, the process of coping with such a stress as divorce may take time and understanding. Ross and Wynne (2001) add that the effects of divorce may impact later life functioning, rather than immediately.

Although resiliency may be a positive trait of individuals who have experienced parental divorce, often times the long-term negative aspects cannot be overlooked. In terms of the social work profession, focus is placed on social justice and equality. For those students experiencing divorce, social justice and equality would mean equal opportunities in terms of getting an education and having a high level of parental support and contact. Specifically for these individuals experiencing divorce, early intervention may drastically alter their perceptions and outcomes. Such interventions may include family and individual counseling to ensure students are coping with the divorce, communicating with parents, and maintaining stability in their education and other aspects of life. Early intervention with these students may have a profound and positive influence in regard to their overall wellbeing. Therefore, students experiencing parental divorce would be able to fulfill basic needs earlier on, resulting in equal opportunities. In the realm of academics, this study may contribute to a better understanding of the long-term effects associated with parental divorce. Not to mention, not much research currently exists in reference to the effects of a divorce on academic performance.

Literature Review

This study will address the academic achievement of college students having experienced parental divorce, while also surveying the student’s relationship with their parents. Collecting data from college students will grow the body of research currently available on the effects of divorce. Presently, research greatly focuses on the divorce experiences of children. This study will focus on college students, which may show the experience of divorce as more of an ongoing process, rather than a singular one-time event. The articles used in our work encompass a wide variety of participants. This variety of studies includes articles on longitudinal studies, college students, and children. However, one commonality among these articles is the wide use of Caucasian, middle-class participants. Although our topic focuses on the effects of divorce on college students, not much research currently exists on this population.

One commonality found among many articles is the use of a comparison group. For these studies, the researchers could compare the findings among those having experienced divorce and those in intact families. Research completed by Amato (2001) focused on an outcome comparison between children who had experienced divorce and those with intact families, as well as differences between the gender and age of these children. Grant (1993) also used a comparison group, to show a difference between those that had experienced divorce and those from intact families. The research of Hetherington (1993) and Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) also utilized a comparison group, however both studies were longitudinal.

Longitudinal studies allow researchers to test participants multiple times, over a span of multiple years. Due to much research in the 1970s focusing on father absence, Hetherington (1993) examined families that had recently experienced divorce and were being led by a single mother. A large difference with this study is that only children who had recently experienced a parental divorce and were four-years-old were chosen. Thus, a large emphasis was placed on the effects of a parental divorce on the child and the family beginning when the child is pre-school aged. Using a longitudinal design, Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) conducted the first and only 25-year study, specifically focused on the child’s experience growing up following a parental divorce. Thus, instead of researching the effect on the whole family, Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) looked at the lifespan adjustment of only the child. Key findings of Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) in terms of those that experienced divorce, include a greater sense of feeling alone, a lesser percentage of college attendance, and a lesser percentage of college completion. In fact, although 72% of the fathers and 38% of the mothers completed a college degree, only 30% of the children from divorced families received full or consistent financial support during college and only 57% of them received a degree themselves. Both Grant (1993) and Kirk (2002) point out that the short-term effects of divorce overshadow those in the long-term. Thus, the importance of longitudinal research cannot be overlooked. One variable to be researched in longitudinal studies is the maturation of each participant and if this difference in age makes a difference in adaptation.

The use of age as a variable was common for many of the studies we have researched. Determining age to be a variable may show that a divorce is a process and through maturation, adjustment may improve. Amato (2001) found that for offspring, adjustment to a divorce gets better with age. In correlation, Grant (1993) also found that age plays a role in how a child adapts to a divorce. Further, Grant (1993) found that children that had experienced parental divorce during preschool, rather later in adolescence would be better adjusted for life in college, however the time of the divorce was the most negative. Kirk (2002) focused on young children experiencing parental divorce and found that since these children had not yet matured, adjustment would improve in the future. Further, it was the coping strategies that an individual develops through maturing that would improve the way they adapt.

In a longitudinal study, Hetherington (1993) found that over time, as these children matured, the adjustment improved. Of the 17 students interviewed by Bulduc, Caron, & Logue (2007) that experienced parental divorce during college, half reported that they saw the divorce coming and over half reported that parents had stayed together for the sake of the children. Thus, age may play a role in the understanding and coping strategies of the offspring. Mulholland, Watt, Philpott, & Sarlin (1991) focused research a population of middle-school adolescents and the effects of divorce. Differing from these other studies, Mulholland, Watt, Philpott, & Sarlin (1991) found no correlation between age and adapting to a divorce. In addition to studying how age plays a role in adapting to divorce, gender may also be taken into account.

Many of the studies we have researched looked at how gender may play a role in how a child can cope with this stressful process. Amato (2001) found that when comparing genders, a greater deficit in terms of adapting was evident for boys than for girls. Thus, the results showed that the adjustment was easier for girls than for boys. In contrast to Amato (2001), Kirk (2002) found that no difference among gender was statistically significant. Rather, age better determines how the child will adapt to the divorce. Aro & Palosaari (1992) focused more on the mental effects of divorce on children and found that depression rates were higher for girls than for boys. In addition to gender, parenting style may play a large role in how offspring adjust to a divorce.

Parenting style refers to how a single parent, or divorced couple parents their children. Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan (1999) examined the consequences of parental divorce for children in regard to their adjustment and the healthiest living situation for the child. It was found that the type of parenting style and relationship maintained between the parent and the child may determine how the child adjusts to the new divorce. Also, it was found that two-parent, intact families were the healthiest living environments for a child. However, following a divorce, one parent must control the household and a single-parent household that is harmonious and includes proper parenting, may be more effective than a hostile two-parent household. In the research compiled by Bulduc, Caron, & Logue (2007), although few participants reported things had changed for the better following the divorce, most reported a stronger relationship with the mother and weaker relationship with the father.

In contrast, Hetherington (1993) found greater conflict between a mother and son in divorced families than intact families. Also, following the divorce, noncustodial fathers became more permissive, indulgent, and disengaged in their relationship with children. Not to mention, the results showed that children of divorce living in one-parent, authoritative households and attending authoritative schools had greater achievement and social competence. In addition to Bulduc, Caron, & Logue (2007), the research of Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan (1999), Hetherington (1993), Kirk (2002), Ruschena, Prior, Sanson, & Smart (2005), and McIntyre, Heron, McIntyre, Burton, & Engler (2003) all found that an authoritative parenting style, which involves consistently communicating with children, and being civil with the other parent can lead to a healthy adjustment.

In terms of behavior, the results of Ruschena, Prior, Sanson, & Smart (2005) showed differences in terms of those that experienced divorce and those of intact families on the bases of internalizing, externalizing, and overall behavior problems for 17 and 18-year-olds. For Bulduc, Caron, & Logue (2007), these authoritative households and schools were defined as setting clear guidelines and holding expectations for these children. Kirk (2002) found that it is not the divorce, but the level of conflict within the family that creates negative psychological outcomes. Although parenting style may play a role in coping with a parental divorce, the effect of divorce in terms of academic standing cannot be overlooked.

In terms of academics, a child of divorce may face more difficulty than those in intact families, due to having to cope with a familial, emotional, or residential change. Bulduc, Caron, & Logue (2007) specifically examined students that had experienced parental divorce while attending college. Of the 17 interviewed, only one-fourth reported their grades suffering due to the divorce. Similar to the work of Mulholland, Watt, Philpott, & Sarlin (1991), Bulduc, Caron, & Logue (2007), and Aro & Palosaari (1992) found school performance of both girls and boys from divorced families to be inferior to that of children from non-divorced families. In contrast to these findings, Ross & Wynne (2010) found no clear difference between participants that had experienced divorce and those from intact families. For those having experienced parental divorce, academic standing is a clear variable to measure for college students.

The basis of our research is the effect of a parental divorce on college students’ academic achievement. Among the research we have reviewed, only studies done by Bulduc, Caron, and Logue (2007) and Ross & Wynne (2010) specifically studied college students. Similar to the research done by Bulduc, Caron, and Logue (2007), the research completed by Ross & Wynne (2010) examined college students to see how parental divorce and parental mental illness may have an influence on offspring. Though this study focused on college students, it differed from work done by Bulduc, Caron, and Logue (2007) since participants had experienced parental divorce before attending college. Grant (1993) found that children that had experienced parental divorce during preschool would be better adjusted for life in college.

Resilience refers to an individual’s ability to cope with stressful life events and proceed in living a healthy life. McIntyre, Heron, McIntyre, Burton, & Engler (2003) found similar results to Ruschena, Prior, Sanson, and Smart (2005), in that resilience is a quality inherited by children of divorce. McIntyre et al (2003) also noted the resilience of college students from families of divorce. The importance of this resilience for students in a college setting can allow them to better handle stress, including academics.

All academic sources were found through the University of Missouri Libraries and databases accessible online through the library website. Many of these articles were available in PDF form through the database, however those that were not available as PDFs were requested electronically. Once these articles were received, they were read, analyzed, and utilized in accordance with this study.

In choosing the above articles, we specifically looked at studies regarding the effects of divorce on offspring. Though our research focuses on the academic achievement of these individuals in a college setting, not much research currently exists on this population. However, considering that more research exists in regard to children and adolescents experiencing parental divorce, we chose two longitudinal studies. These longitudinal studies were able to look at the long-term effects of experiencing divorce and how coping may determine future relationships, education, and employment.

Although a small amount of these articles directly looked at academic status for college students having experienced divorce, the articles used in our literature review include important information in regard to our research questions. The limited amount of literature has been a key factor in the somewhat limited understanding of the impact divorce has on a child. But, we have come to believe that someone can successfully become happy, and active even after divorce. We believe it has more to do with the connectivity between a student and their family.

Assumptions of theory

Attachment theory focuses on the effects of a person’s early relationships on their development through life. Based on the work of John Bowlby, attachment theory places emphasis on the drive of a person to seek secure relationships (Shumaker, Miller, Ortiz, & Deutsch, 2011). Additionally, “These studies show that paternal contributions are indeed vital to secure, stable, explatory, balanced, verbally fluent attachment dispositions in adulthood” (Bowlby, 1988). Specifically, Bowlby (1988) analyzed the importance of the mother-child relationship in the child’s development.

Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, and Wall (1978) added to the work of Bowlby (1988) with their development of The Strange Situation (O’Gorman, 2012). In administering this project, infants were separated from their mothers for an allotted time and depending on the coping method of the infant, they were seen as having an attachment style as secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure/ambivalent, or disorganized/disoriented. Although many changes may occur between infancy and adulthood, Bowlby (1988) assumed that once an attachment style develops, relationships later in life would align with this style.

Research Questions

  1. What is the average GPA (academic achievement) for college students?
  2. What is the association between gender (confounding variable) and academic achievement (DV) among college students?
  3. What is the association between parental divorce (IV1) and academic achievement (DV) among college students?
  4. What is the association between parent-child relationship (IV2) and academic achievement (DV) among college students?

Theory connection to variables

A child’s infant attachment style tends to remain constant through life, thus as different life situations occur, this attachment style may be involved. For instance, as a child is experiencing parental divorce, their attachment style may play a role in how they cope with this stressful process. In reference to our specific sample, as parents raise their children, they attempt to instill characteristics that will lead to children becoming autonomous after leaving the home (Cutrona, Cole, Colangelo, Assouline, and Russell, 1994).

Thus, for the parents of children attending college, they hope to have instilled a solid sense of independence and self-sufficiency, leading to the achievement of a degree. However, for children of differing attachment styles, the experiences they have in college can greatly vary. Considering the importance of grade point average when it comes to completing a degree, a college student’s attachment style and relationship with their parents may influence their study habits.

Attachment theory acts as a guideline to describe the infancy period and provide insight into the nature of the caregiver-child relationship (O’Gorman, 2012). According to Cutrona, Cole, Colangelo, Assouline, and Russell (1994), links between social support and academic achievement have been found in a few studies. From these studies, students with a high perception of social support tended to have a higher degree of performance than those with lower social support. The parent-child relationship and child adaptation to divorce commonly appear in research (Cowan, Cowan, and Mehta, 2009). Further, unresolved conflict between divorced parents is linked to negative indicators in terms of development for children.

The independent variables we have identified for this study are parental divorce and the parent-child relationship. The dependent variable we will be looking at is the academic achievement for these college students. Thus, our interest lies in conjunction with parental divorce and parent-child relationship and their relationship to academic achievement for college students. The confounding variable we will be using in our research is gender. We have chosen gender to determine if a difference is present between males and females when it comes to parental divorce and parent-child relationship and their affect on academic achievement.

We hypothesize that college students that have experienced parental divorce and have less of a parent-child relationship will have a lower degree of academic achievement, in comparison to those of intact families.

The research design of this project is cross-sectional, only surveying participants once. Cross-sectional is the best fit, considering that factors such as time and money limit this study. Following the completion of the survey, participants were kept confidential and were not re-contacted. Considering that the topic is relevant to most college students, participants were not difficult to find. However, one weakness could be the extensiveness of our survey and the time it took to complete it. Our rationale for the longer survey was that more questions would yield more clear results.

The sample consisted of undergraduate students at a large public mid-western university who completed the survey on a random basis. A total of 45 students at this university completed the survey. In terms of age, all participants fell between 18 and 23-years-old and older. As for gender, our sample consisted of 75.6% females and 24.4% males. The sample also was greatly Caucasian/White, 82.2%, while 8.9% identified as African American/Black. As for the smaller percentages, 4.4% identified as Asian, and 4.4% identified as other.

The optimal sampling method for this study was convenience sampling. Considering that students were contacted via Facebook and Reddit, the sample was convenient. Time constraints and the availability of a large number of university students on specific social networking sites, played a large role in determining convenience sampling to be the most optimal option. By placing the survey in specific areas of social networking sites only available to students of the specific university, it was ensured that all participants attend the university. Had time not been a deciding factor, probability sampling methods could have been implemented. The survey remained active on these sites for one week. Considering that probability sampling was used, our sample may not be representative of the population of college students at this university.

The survey interview method was self-administered online, considering that participants completed a designed survey on the internet. This method was chosen considering the large number of college students that use the internet and the fact that completing an online survey is time effective. The number of students our survey reached was far greater than the number that would have been reached if we had conducted face-to-face interviews.

Measurement

Student academic achievement is measured in the form of grade point average (GPA). To assess academic achievement, participants reported their current GPA on the survey. Grade point averages compile the student’s cumulative grades for all completed courses since the beginning of college. Further, the GPA for each course is determined by the quality of work on tests, quizzes, papers, and presentations as assessed by each professor. The grading for each course follows a 4.0 scale and GPA is the accumulative average of all courses. The question assessing GPA was structured as, “Which best describes your current GPA, according to MyZou?” The participant was charged with self-reporting their GPA to the best of their knowledge. GPA is ratio in terms of the level of measurement and is considered a continuous variable. Of the participants surveyed, the average GPA was ­3.26.

Measurements of demographics were obtained via the survey from self-report. The question on race referred to the student being one of the following: American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Asian Indian, Black/African American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, or other. Also, the question on ethnicity was limited to Hispanic/Latino or Non-Hispanic or Latino. Each participant was also asked to report their age, ranging from 17 to 23 or older. Finally, students were asked to clarify their year in college, whether Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, or Graduate student.

These questions are nominal in terms of the level of measurement and qualify as categorical. Previous research has shown a difference between how individuals of differing genders may cope with a parental divorce and later life functioning. Thus, gender was chosen as a confounding variable to further assess these differences. The question on gender was structured as, “Which best describes your gender male, female, transgender, or intersex?” This question qualifies as nominal in terms of level of measurement and is also categorical.

To assess whether students had experienced parental divorce, two questions were developed. The first simply asking, “Are your parents divorced?” Further, the time of the parental divorce can be quite important in terms of how the student copes. Thus, an additional question for those answering that their parents were divorced we included, “When did this divorce occur?” For those coming from intact families, in which parents were not divorced, the participant was directed to skip this question and continue with the next question. These questions are nominal in terms of level of measurement and considered to be categorical.

The quality of the student’s relationship with their parents was measured using the Parental Attachment Questionnaire (Kenny, 1987). Two versions of the survey exist, one of which asks the participant questions about their relationship with each parent to be answered answer using a Likert scale. The second version, which was implemented in this study, asks the same questions, however the participant answers in regard to their parents together (combined parent rating), rather than separate. Given time constraints it was determined to be best to use the combined parent rating. The Likert scale used to evaluate the parent-child relationship involved a series of statements in regard to how the student interacts and feels about their parents.

The sections of the Parental Attachment Questionnaire included parental support, interactions during visits, feelings following time spent together, comfort in involving parents with problems, and going to parents for help. Evaluations of these statements was a ranking system of 1 (not at all), 2 (somewhat), 3 (moderate amount), 4 (quite a bit), and 5 (very much). These questions are ordinal in terms of level of measurement, considering the scale and they can be classified as categorical.

We have accounted for inter-rater reliability and internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha). To account for inter-rater reliability and internal consistency, we have designed this survey together and have concluded the consistency of the measures. Additionally, face validity and construct validity have been accounted for in this study in terms of designing the survey and developing complete research questions.

Data Analysis

In terms of analyzing our data, we analyzed the relationships between the Parental Attachment Questionnaire score, parental divorce, and gender on GPA of each participant. Univariate analysis was conducted in terms of finding the average GPA of the participants. Further, bivariate analysis was conducted on gender, parental divorce, and parent-student attachment in reference to GPA. In terms of evaluating the relationship between gender and parental divorce on GPA, an independent t-test was conducted. Since an independent t-test evaluates one continuous and one categorical variable, it will align with the analysis of gender and parental divorce on student GPA. To analyze the correlation between the parent-student relationship on the student’s GPA, a Pearson Correlation was conducted.

In terms of univariate analysis, our first research question was as follows: What is the average GPA (academic achievement) among college students? Of the 45 students surveyed, 3 declined to answer, thus N=42. The mean of GPA was 3.26, showing that of the individuals surveyed, they have maintained above a B average. The standard deviation of this variable was .467 (SD=0.467). The minimum GPA reported was 1.79, while the maximum was 4.0. The median GPA reported was 3.39, while the mode was 2.8 with 9.5% reporting. The results of the GPA fell along a bell-curve.

In terms of bivariate analysis, our second research question was as follows: What is the relationship between gender and GPA among college students? To analyze the data, we chose to implement an independent t-test on these variables. We hypothesized that the GPA of females surveyed would be higher than males. There were 9 males included in this survey and t-test (N=9, mean=3.02, SD=0.416). Further, there were 33 females included in this survey and t-test analysis (N=33, mean=3.32, SD=0.464). Thus, our expectation that females would report a higher GPA was supported. However, this hypothesis is rejected since there was not statistical significance found in the independent t-test (t=1.793, p=0.081). Since p (0.081) > 0.05, there is no statistical significance.

Our third bivariate analysis was completed on the following question: What is the relationship between parental divorce and GPA among college students? To analyze the data on these variables, we implemented another independent t-test. We hypothesized that those students of divorced parents would report a lower GPA. There were 11 participants who have divorced parents (N=11, mean=3.39, SD=0.346). There were 31 participants who come from intact families (N=31, mean=3.21, SD=0.499). Our hypothesis was not supported, considering that for those students with divorced parents, actually reported a higher GPA than those of intact families. There was not statistical significance found in the independent t-test (t=1.106, p=0.276). Since p (0.276) > 0.05, there is no statistical significance.

Our fourth bivariate analysis was completed on the following question: What is the relationship between parent-student relationship and GPA among college students? To analyze the data on these variables, we implemented a Pearson Correlation. We hypothesized that those students with a lower composite score measuring their relationship with their parents would report a lower GPA. There were 40 participants that completed the Parental Attachment Questionnaire and each received a score out of 170 (N=40, mean=125.25, SD=25.38). The higher the student scored on the Parental Attachment Questionnaire, shows a stronger relationship with their parents. Our hypothesis was supported, considering that those of stronger parent-student relationships reported a higher GPA. There was a significant correlation found in the Pearson Correlation (r=0.387, p=0.018).

As was presented in the results section, many of our findings were not statistically significant. However, there was a positive correlation found in our fourth bivariate analysis. Although an independent t-test on the relationship between parental divorce and GPA was not statistically significant, a positive correlation was found between a student’s relationship with their parents and GPA. Contrary to popular thought, the relationship with between the parents and child may play a larger role than the divorce itself. Further, for those students whose parents are divorced and still cordial and involved in each other’s lives, they may have more positive outcomes. In a society that greatly points to divorce as a main negative experience for a child, it may instead be the relationship the child has with the parents.

Our first bivariate analysis, on gender and GPA paralleled the results of Kirk (2002). Considering that statistical significance was absent from our independent t-test on the relationship between gender and GPA, a difference among males and females was not present. However, these results differ from those of Amato (2001), who found that when comparing males and females, boys had a greater deficit than girls. We hypothesized according to the research of Amato (2001), that females participating in our survey would in fact report a higher GPA than males and further research could shed more light on this relationship.

Our second bivariate analysis, on parental divorce and GPA contradicted previous findings presented in the literature review. Research completed by Mulholland, Watt, Philpott, & Sarlin (1991) found a lower degree of academic standing for those students of parental divorce. Further, Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) report that in addition to a lower likelihood of attending college, those having experienced parental divorce were less likely to complete a four-year degree. Contrary to our hypothesis, the results of our study found no statistical significance between a student having divorced parents and having a lower GPA than those of intact families.

Our final bivariate analysis, on the parent-student relationship and GPA paralleled studies of Bulduc, Caron, & Logue (2007), Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan (1999), Hetherington (1993), Kirk (2002), Ruschena, Prior, Sanson, & Smart (2005), and McIntyre, Heron, McIntyre, Burton, & Engler (2003), all of whom found that an authoritative parenting style, which involves consistently communicating with children, and being civil with the other parent can lead to a healthy adjustment. In accordance with our hypothesis, those with a healthier parent-student relationship reported a higher GPA. Participants scoring higher according to the Parental Attachment Questionnaire (Kenny, 1987) had a significantly higher GPA than those with a lesser score.

Based on our results, there are many implications for future social work policy and practice. As previously pointed out, it may be the parent-student relationship that greater determines outcomes, rather than a parental divorce. Considering these findings, more emphasis may be placed on establishing positive communication and parenting styles. Regardless of a parental divorce, a positive and healthy relationship can mean better coping and understand between the parents and child. In terms of social work practice, parenting classes can be offered to ensure that parents are prepared to raise children. Prevention costs far less than intervention and ensuring that parents are completely prepared and aware of positive parenting styles can improve how the child grows up. Additionally, changes can be made in terms of the way practitioners provide family and couples therapy. When the relationship between the parents and children is greatly emphasized, even in situations of divorce, the whole family may cope in a healthier way. In terms of policy, possible issues to be discussed may include parental rights and visitation in parental divorce. When a child is limited in their freedom to visit a parent, the relationship will certainly suffer. However, having parents constantly communicate and be equal in terms of parental rights can mean a healthier relationship with the child.

The results of this study are consistent with the assumptions of attachment theory. As pointed out by attachment theory, a child’s attachment style frequently remains constant throughout life, thus prevention or early intervention to emphasize the parent-student relationship can pay dividends. As reported by Cowan, Cowan, & Mehta (2009), the parent-child relationship and child adaptation to divorce are common to appear in research. Further, unresolved conflict between divorced parents is linked to negative indicators in terms of development for children. Additionally, according to Cutrona, Cole, Colangelo, Assouline, and Russell (1994), links between social support and academic achievement have been found in a few studies.

Given the parameters of this study, time was a great limitation. With a greater amount of time, the survey and distribution could have been to a larger, more representative sample. With this theoretical increase in representativeness, the results would certainly be more definite. Additionally, considering this study was not funded through a grant, we were not compensated, or allowed to compensate participants. With a greater amount of funding, future researchers could have dedicated more time to have a more encompassing study. Given the large amount of females that completed our survey, a sample including more males would be important. Due to the limitations of our research, future research can greatly expand on our findings. Specifically, the issues relating to the parent-student relationship can be explored in similar populations. In addition to focusing on GPA, future studies could research future relationships with peers and intimate partners in accordance to parental divorce and parent relationship. Previous research has shown that the percentage of individuals who have experienced parental divorce and are attending college is relatively low, approximately 16%-20% (Grant, Smith, Sinclair, & Salts, 1993).

Thus, it is clear that the importance of the parent-child relationship is present and can determine later life functioning. Further, considering the relatively small amount of studies on college students and their relationships with parents, this population must continue to be researched. With these implications for future research, the goals of social equality and justice can be achieved, ensuring that regardless of personal background, each individual can live a full life.

Amato, P. R. (2001). Children of divorce in the 1990s: An update of the Amato and Keith (1991) meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(3), 355-370.

Aro, H. M., & Palosaaur, U. K. (1992). Parental divorce, adolescence, and transition to adulthood: A follow-up study. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 62, 421-429

Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Parent-child attachment and healthy human development. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Bulduc, J. L., Caron, S. L., & Logue, M. (2007). The Effects of Parental Divorce on College Students. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46(3/4), 83-104.

Cowan, P. A., Cowan, C., & Mehta, N. (2009). Adult attachment, couple attachment, and children’s adaptation to school: an integrated attachment template and family risk model. Attachment & Human Development, 11(1), 29-46.

Crary, D. (2003). Lengthy marriages ending more often. Bangor Daily News Associated Press Article.

Cutrona, C. E., Cole, V., Colangelo, N., Assouline, S. G., & Russell, D. W. (1994). Perceived parental social support and academic achievement: An attachment theory perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66(2), 369-378.

Grant, L. S., Smith, T. A., Sinclair, J. J. & Salts, C. J. (1993). The impact of parental divorce on college adjustment. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 19, 183-193.

Hetherington, E. M. (1993). An overview of the Virginia longitudinal study of divorce and remarriage with a focus on early adolescence. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 39-56.

Hetherington E., Stanley-Hagan M. (1999). The adjustment of children with divorced parents: A risk and resiliency perspective. Journal of Child Psychology And Psychiatry 40 (1), 129-140.

Kirk A. The effects of divorce on young adults’ relationship competence: The influence of intimate friendships. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage [serial online]. 2002 38 (1-2): 61-90.

Kreider, R. (2007). Living arrangements of children: 2004. Current population reports, p. 70-114. Washington, DC: Census Bureau.

McIntyre, A., Heron, R. L., McIntyre, M. D., Burton, S. J., & Engler, J. N. (2003). College students from families of divorce: Keys to their resilience. Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 17-31.

Mulholland, D. J., Watt, N. F., Philpott, A., & Sarlin, N. (1991). Academic performance in children of divorce: Psychological resilience and vulnerability. Psychiatry, 54, 268-280.

O’Gorman, S. (2012). Attachment theory, family system theory, and the child presenting with significant behavioral concerns. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 31(3), 1-16.

Ross, L., & Wynne, S. (2010). Parental Depression and Divorce and Adult Children’s Well-

Being: The Role of Family Unpredictability. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 19(6), 757-761.

Ruschena, E., Prior, M., Sanson, A., & Smart, D. (2005). A longitudinal study of adolescent adjustment following family transition. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 353-363.

Shumaker, D. M., Miller, C., Ortiz, C., & Deutsch, R. (2011). The forgotten bonds: The assessment and contemplation of sibling attachment in divorce and parental separation. Family Court Review, 49(1), 46-58.

Wallerstein, J. S., & Lewis, J. M. (2004). The unexpected legacy of divorce: Report of a 25-year study. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 21, 353-370.

Circle or fill in the information BEST describing you.

1. Gender: 1. Male 2. Female 3. Transgender 4. Intersex

2. Age: 1. 17 2. 18 3. 19 4. 20 5. 21 6. 22

3. Race: 1. American Indian/Alaska Native 2. Asian

3. Asian Indian 4. Black/African American

5. Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 6. White

7. Other _________________

4. Ethnicity: 1. Hispanic or Latino 2. Non-Hispanic or Latino

5. Year in school: 1. Freshman 2. Sophomore 3. Junior 4. Senior 5. Graduate

6. Current GPA (4.0 scale, according to MyZou): ______________

7. Are your parents divorced? If no, skip to question 9. 1. YES 2. NO

8. If yes, when did this divorce occur?

The following contains statements that describe family relationships and the kinds of feelings and experiences frequently reported by young adults. Please respond to each item by filling in the number on a scale of 1 to 5 that best describes your parents, your relationship with your parents, and your experiences and feelings. Please provide a single rating to describe your parents and your relationship with them. If only one parent is living, or if your parents are divorced, respond with reference to your living parent or the parent with whom you feel closer.

1 2 3 4 5
Not at All(0-10%) Somewhat(11-35%) A Moderate Amount(36-65%) Quite A Bit(66-90%) Very Much(91-100%)

___24. are persons whose expectations I feel

1 2 3 4 5
Not at All(0-10%) Somewhat(11-35%) A Moderate Amount(36-65%) Quite A Bit(66-90%) Very Much(91-100%)

During recent visits or time spent together, my parents were persons. . .

___25. I looked forward to seeing.___26. with whom I argued.___27. with whom I felt relaxed and comfortable.___28. towards whom I felt cool and distant.___29. who aroused feelings of guilt and anxiety. (go to next column) ___30. for whom I felt a feeling of love.___31. to whom I confided my most personalthoughts and feelings.___32. whose company I enjoyed.

Following time spent together, I leave my parents. . .

___33. with warm and positive feelings. (go to next column) ___34. feeling let down and disappointed by my

When I have a serious problem or an important decision to make. . .

___35. I look to my family for support, encouragement, and/or guidance.___36. I think about how my family might respond and what they might say. (go to next column) ___37. I work it out on my own, without help ordiscussion with others.___38. I know that my family will know whatto do.___39. I contact my family if I am not able toresolve the situation after talking it over with myfriends.

When I go to my parents for help. . .

___40. I feel more confident in my ability to handle the problems on my own.___41. I feel sure that things will work out as long as I follow my parent’s advice.___42. I am disappointed with their response.

Part of Issue 10, published in August 2014.

About Artifacts

Artifacts is a refereed journal of undergraduate work in writing at The University of Missouri. The journal celebrates writing in all its forms by inviting student authors to submit projects composed across different genres and media.



Comments:

  1. Glifieu

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  2. Kigagor

    Removed (confused section)

  3. Panteleimon

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  4. Ormund

    Can search for a link to a site that has many articles on the subject.

  5. Arkwright

    Surely. I join all of the above. Let us try to discuss the matter.



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