Adolescents, Family, and Friends: Social Support after Parents' Divorce or Remarriage

Adolescents, Family, and Friends: Social Support after Parents' Divorce or Remarriage

Adolescents, Family, and Friends: Social Support after Parents' Divorce or Remarriage

Adolescents, Family, and Friends: Social Support after Parents' Divorce or Remarriage

Synopsis

Focusing on the kinds of networks that most adequately meet adolescent needs, Stinson conducts thirty in-depth interviews with adolescents and their custodial parents. She divides interviews evenly between those living with biological parents, with divorced mother, and with mother and stepfather. Empirical results are applied to guiding questions: How are adolescent social support networks affected by parental divorce and remarriage? What are the impacts of network size and structure on adolescents' well-being? For researchers and practitioners in adolescent well-being, divorce, and remarriage counseling.

Excerpt

In recent years few changes in American families have received as much attention as the increasing divorce rate and the number of children living in single-parent households. The implications of these changes for the well-being of individuals and for the future of families in general have been studied by social scientists and debated by the mass media and the public. A guiding assumption in much of the debate seems to be that divorce disrupts the participants' social relations, leaving them isolated and lacking in necessary physical, emotional, and social support. This may be particularly troublesome in the case of children, whose relationship with at least one parent is likely to be disrupted at a time when the custodial parent's emotional and financial resources are diminished.

The focus of this study is on the social support networks of adolescents as they are affected by the parents' marital status. The central question concerns whether living with both parents, or with a mother only, or with a mother and stepfather is associated with variations in the structure and effectiveness of adolescents' social support networks, and what the implications of these variations are for adolescents' well-being.

The definition of social support network being employed is similar to Garbarino's (1983, p. 5): "a set of interconnected relationships among a group of people that provides enduring patterns of nurturance (in any or all forms) and provides contingent reinforcement for efforts to cope with life on a day-to-day basis." A support network may include formal supports, which have their bases in professional helping services such as therapy groups, and informal supports, which exist outside the established . . .

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