Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Culture, Parental Conflict, Parental Marital Status, and the Subjective Well-Being of Young Adults

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Culture, Parental Conflict, Parental Marital Status, and the Subjective Well-Being of Young Adults

Article excerpt

We examined the association between parental marital status, marital conflict, and culture (individualism-collectivism, divorce rate), and the subjective well-being of young adults. Study I assessed 2,625 men and 4,118 women from 39 countries on 6 continents. Subjective well-being was negatively associated with marital conflict among offspring of never-divorced and remarried parents. The association of marital status and the subjective well-being of offspring differed across individualism-collectivism and divorce rate. Collectivism lessens the impact of divorce after a high-conflict marriage and the impact of marital conflict when a parent remarries. Study 2 examined the association of parental marital status and conflict among 76 adopted and 87 nonadopted young adults. The negative association of divorce and of marital conflict with the life satisfaction of the offspring did not differ by adoption.

The selection hypothesis was not supported.

Key Words: collectivism, culture, marital conflict, marital status, selection, subjective well-being.

Many investigators conclude that the young adult offspring of divorced parents experience lower general psychological well-being than individuals whose parents remain married (Glenn & Kramer, 1985; Kulka & Weingarten, 1979; for a metaanalysis, see Amato & Keith, 1991a ). This recurrent conclusion often is qualified in the following ways. Differences in well-being between adult offspring of divorced and nondivorced parents are often small (Amato & Booth, 1991; Amato & Keith, 1991a; Chase-Lansdale, Cherlin, & Kiernan, 1995), suggesting that some offspring are not adversely effected by or may even benefit from divorce. Effect sizes are weaker in studies that control for family characteristics such as parental education and occupation, indicating that some factors can ameliorate the effect of divorce. Effect sizes are weaker in more recent studies than in earlier ones (Amato & Keith, 1991a; Kulka & Weingarten, 1979), possibly because when divorce became more frequent and more acceptable, it had fewer negative effects. In addition, effect sizes are weaker for Blacks than for Whites (Amato & Keith, 1991a), suggesting that cultural or situational factors may lessen the adverse effects of divorce. Finally, effect sizes are smaller in community samples than in clinical samples, indicating that the link between divorce and adult offspring is weak in the general population. Indeed, among the 23-year-old offspring of parental divorce in a large, longitudinal study, the majority (82% of the women and 94% of the men) fell below the clinical cutoff on a measure screening for a wide range of mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, phobias, obsessions; ChaseLansdale et al., 1995). Individuals whose parents experienced a "low-stress" divorce were not appreciably less well off than those from original families (Amato & Booth, 1991), suggesting that low marital conflict and continued parental support diminish the impact of divorce. In sum, the negative effect of divorce on the well-being of adult offspring is found consistently, but it varies in magnitude, depending on moderating variables.

We examine several variables that might moderate the adverse effect of divorce: marital conflict, individualism-collectivism, the national divorce rate, and gender. We first examine whether previous findings are replicated in a large, international sample. We examine variables associated with marital conflict both among the offspring of neverdivorced parents and among offspring raised by a parent who divorced and remarried. We also compare the differences in psychological well-being of offspring raised by two parents who are frequently in conflict with offspring raised by a single, divorced parent. Most importantly, by employing a large, international sample in one study, we are able to examine two cultural variables that might lessen the impact of divorce or marital conflict or both: individualism-collectivism and the national divorce rate. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.