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Divorce is very common in todayís world; in fact one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Many children are raised in single-parent homes, and this has an impact on the way that these children develop. Divorce effects many aspects of life and the children have to adjust to new situations and feelings. When parents divorce, the childrenís development is interrupted and many children have a hard time adjusting to this. As teenagers and adults, children of divorce often still have related problems. Divorce is a very interesting and pressing topic. Knowing how it impacts offspring is the first step to deciding on how to minimize the negative effects of divorce. The focus of this study was how growing up in a divorced home relates to a personís social and educational functioning. The purpose of this study is to add to the body of knowledge in this area because divorce is such a widespread problem in society.
The amount of literature on the topic of divorce is fairly large. The Annual Review of Psychology (2001) contained an entry on adolescent development. Steinberg and Morris state that people who have experienced high anxiety life events, such as divorce, develop problems
during adolescence. When problems such as depression develop during adolescence, these problems persist into adulthood. Steinberg and Morris also stated that family relations and their quality may alter the onset of puberty, and adolescents who come from higher conflict environments will mature earlier and faster. Stevenson & Black (1996) elaborate on this by saying that early maturation and puberty leads to early sexual relations and shorter and unstable relationships. In their study, Stevenson and Black also found that children differ in test scores depending on whether or not they come from an intact home. Their previous research indicated that adolescents relationships with their parents influence their relationships with their peers. Adolescents without close friends are more influenced by their family than their peers and adolescents in less cohesive families are more influenced by their peers than their families. Another study on divorce was conducted by Lee (2002) on the behavioral adjustment of post-divorce children. Although Leeís study was focused on the type of living arrangement present after divorce, much of her research and information is relevant to this study. Lee talked about the systems perspective. In this perspective, a change in one part of the system changes all other parts of the system because they are interrelated. This applies to divorce. Divorce is a change in the system of a family, and the offspring will then experience changes in all other life aspects at the time of the divorce. This change includes the social and educational development and functioning of the offspring. Lee says that divorce is a significant event in the life of a child, and it is one that changes the way that child relates to his surroundings. These surroundings are largely social and educational; therefore the functioning in these areas is effected. These effects can be long-term, and it is quite possible that these problems will linger into adulthood.
In fact, studies have shown that divorce affects both short-term and long-term adjustment. For instance, Richardson and McCabe (2001) conducted a study on the impact of parental divorce, conflict, and intimacy with parents during the adolescent stage. In their study, Richardson and McCabe pointed out that adolescence is a time of change and divorce can be an added stressor that can impact adjustment. Conflict within the home negatively impacts interpersonal relationships. Previous research has shown that parent-child
relationships are predictors for young adult interpersonal relationships. Richardson and McCabe measured seven aspects: life satisfaction, depression, anxiety, stress, opposite-sex relations, same-sex relations, and self-concept. 167 undergraduate students participated in the study. They found that participants from a divorced home had lower life satisfaction, higher anxiety, and poorer same-sex relations as compared to participants form intact homes. Overall, divorce and inter-parental conflict was found to impact adjustment.
Jaquet and Surra (2001) conducted a study on the impact that divorce has on the interpersonal relationships of young adults. Their previous research indicated that people from divorced families exhibit less trust in their relationships, which ultimately weakens their relationships. In addition to this, young adults from divorced homes are less likely to commit to relationships, and women from divorced homes report feeling little security in their relationships with men. Their results showed that participants from divorced homes exhibit less trust and less security in relationships as compared to participants from intact homes.
The hypothesis of this study was if participants came from a divorced home, then they would exhibit a lower level of relationship maturity and secure attachment and increased social activity and academic drive when compared to participants from intact families. The focus of this study is how growing up in a non-intact home affects relationships, social functioning, and academic functioning. For relationships, we were interested in both parental relationships and interpersonal relationships. Social functioning was defined through measures of how social a person is, how much they like to go out and be with people, and how important it is to maintain a social life. Academic functioning was defined through measures of grades, how much a person enjoys school, how important school is to a person, and how much a person strives to do well in school. Parental relationships were defined through how close a person is with their parent/s, how much a person depends on his parents for support, and how important a personís relationship with his parents is to him. Interpersonal relationships were defined through how much a person enjoys meeting new people or having friends, how a person acts within a relationship i.e. how attached and secure a person is, and how much a person values being in a relationship.
The participants were 100 undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans. All genders and races were represented, and the participants were a minimum of 18 years.
All of the participants volunteered and some received extra credit for participating. The participants were recruited in classes where the researchers briefly explained the study and then passed around a sign-up sheet. Participants were reminded the day before by the researchers when and where the study would be taking place for the time that they signed up for. Also a sign-up sheet was also posted on the human resources subject pool bulletin board in the psychology department of Loyola University. Convenience sampling was used in this study.
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