Adolescents after Divorce

Adolescents after Divorce

Adolescents after Divorce

Adolescents after Divorce


When their parents divorce, some children falter and others thrive. This book asks why. Is it the custody arrangement? A parent's new partner? Conflict or consistency between the two households? Adolescents after Divorce follows teenagers from 1,100 divorcing families to discover what makes the difference. Focusing on a period beginning four years after the divorce, the authors have the articulate, often insightful help of their subjects in exploring the altered conditions of their lives. These teenagers come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are functioning well. Some are faring poorly. The authors examine the full variety of situations in which these children find themselves once the initial disruption has passed - whether parents remarry or repartner, how parents relate to each other and to their children, and how life in two homes is integrated. Certain findings emerge - for instance, remarried new partners are better accepted than cohabiting new partners. And when parents' relations areamicable, adolescents in dual custody are less likely than other adolescents to experience loyalty conflicts. The authors also consider the effects of visitation arrangements, The demands made and the goals set within each home, and the emotional closeness of the residential parent to the child. A mine of information on a topic that touches so many Americans, this study will be crucial for researchers, counselors, lawyers, judges, and parents.


The decision to divorce is grueling for most parents, who often worry heavily about the impact of divorce on their children. Like other parents, those who divorce want to provide their children with the opportunities to develop into well-functioning, happy, responsible, independent adults. And despite doomsayers' predictions concerning the impact of divorce and "broken families" on children and society, research clearly shows that many children adapt quite well after their parents' divorce. Perhaps even more children would thrive if more information and more support were provided for divorcing parents and the professionals who work with them.

This book was written in an effort to help those parents whose best or only option is divorce. Our research was conducted under the assumption that, for good or ill, divorces will continue to happen. Our aim was never to argue for or against divorce. Rather, we wanted to find out what circumstances of family life after divorce were associated with good adjustment on the part of children, so that both parents and professionals could enhance children's development. With the indispensable help of over five hundred adolescents, we discovered much about what matters--and what does not matter--with respect to adolescents' well-being after divorce. Our hope is that making this information available will aid and encourage parents in this difficult situation, and ultimately improve the lives of their children.

Some of the findings reported in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 were previously reported in Buchanan,Maccoby, and Dornbusch (1992). Certain findings in Chapter 11 previously appeared in Buchanan,Maccoby, and Dornbusch (1991).

We are tremendously grateful for the generous support of the W. T. Grant Foundation (grant no. 88119688 to Eleanor E. Maccoby and Sanford M. Dornbusch) and of the Center for the Study of Families, Chil-

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