An exploratory study of children's adjustment to parents' divorce, with some references to gender differences

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An exploratory study of children's adjustment to parents' divorce, with some references to gender differences

 

Author: Chu, Ting-nor Marine
Title: An exploratory study of children's adjustment to parents' divorce, with some references to gender differences
Degree: M.A.
Year: 2000
Subject: Children of divorced parents -- China -- Hong Kong
Adjustment (Psychology) in children -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: v, 120 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1541781
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/3961
Abstract: This study explores children's adjustment to parents' divorce from their own perspective. Similarities and differences between boys and girls are also examined. Two board areas of adjustment are explored, namely divorce-specific adjustment and general developmental adjustment. The former one includes children's reaction to divorce (children's understanding of divorce, reunification wish, behavioural reaction, emotional reaction, and evaluation to divorce) and post-divorce parent-child relationship (relationship with custodial parent, stepparent and non-custodial parent; and the feeling of being caught between the divorced parents). The latter one refers to their performance in school, personality development, peer relationship, and attitudes towards courtship and marriage. The researcher adopts a qualitative research design with a total of fourteen in-depth interviews (excluding two pilot tests) conducted with six respondents, of whom three are boys and three are girls. Individual case analysis for each respondent is studied. Cross-case analysis and rich description is then performed for each theme. For those themes, similarities and differences between girls and boys are also explored. From the findings of this study, it is shown that parents' divorce is not necessarily a family disaster or disruptive experience for the children. It can have positive, negative or mixed effects on children in the long term. Indeed, children's adjustment to divorce can be viewed as a challenge for the children in facing the sequences of stressful family transitions instead of a tragedy. In this study, the researcher has generated numerous implications for social work practice. Three general recommendations are made in this study. First, youth workers should assist children or adolescents to explore their strengths and potentials, rather than just focus on their problems, so as to better facilitate their growth in such family transitions. Second, the focus of intervention should encompass various systems in order to facilitate their adjustment and growth. They included the family system, the school system, and others. Social workers may have to strengthen their role in enhancing parenting skills of custodial parent, as well as in facilitation of children's relationship with their family members and non-custodial parents. In addition, teachers and significant systems might need to be assisted to adopt more positive view on children from divorced families without unnecessary labeling. Third, social workers should have the sensitivity on possible gender differences while assisting children in coping with parents' divorce and in facilitation of their growth. In this study, the findings do not reflect either gender of children having better adjustment than the other, or which gender is more vulnerable than the other. However, it is maintained that there may be different vulnerabilities or stress factors faced faced by girls and boys at different time or developmental stages. Such sensitivity of possible gender differences in vulnerabilities may engender hints for more feasible and appropriate points of intervention. In addition, the findings also reveal that there may be some possible gender differences in terms of their strengths, potentials or motivated forces among the themes studied. This sensitivity may provide direction for social workers in adopting various creative approaches or means of intervention, such as group work of adventure activities, so as to produce optimal effect on the children.

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