To draw a conclusion, I compared children in the two samples (divorced and intact) on key variables known to be associated with both divorce and adjustment, including the five discussed in the literature review. The effects of divorce were examined through a series of questions on how children viewed their personal and family lives.

Using the answers to the 30 questions, I assessed the information in the form of a t-test. The top part of the ratio represented the difference between the two means or averages of the questionnaire results. The bottom part measured the variability or dispersion of the scores. The t-value will be positive if the first mean is larger than the second and negative if it is smaller. The t-test will determine whether the means of two groups are statistically different from each other.

Results and Conclusion

This paper showed lack of support for the research hypothesis.

Overall self-discrepancies were related to a number of variables covering overall adjustment difficulties, including personality problems and school trouble, and not limited to divorce.

Divorce is not a discreet event, and the path in which divorce affects children is complex.

Rather than viewing the actual divorce as the cause of poorer child outcomes, it appears that increased family conflict, disruptions in family relations and fewer economic, educational and emotional resources seem to be even more important factors in determining individual effects of any type of conflict.

This paper showed support for the research hypothesis. The findings of this research are summarized as follows:

Both divorce group and problem group demonstrated higher overall self-discrepancies and perceptual discrepancies in their fathers than the ordinary group. However, only the divorce group had greater perceptual discrepancies in their mothers than the ordinary group. Self-discrepancies were confined to both groups' construction of the parental images only.

2. The divorce group showed higher overall adjustment difficulties, poorer academic performance and worse school conduct than the intact group. Their adjustment difficulties were manifested mostly in their school performance.

Unfortunately, because these studies are correlational, it was impossible to determine for certain if divorce is responsible for the various differences between groups. It is always possible that groups may differ in ways that this questionnaire cannot anticipate, measure, or control. For example, an unspecified parental personality characteristic may alter the risk of both divorce and child maladjustment. Solid conclusions about causation require experimentation. Due to the fact that I cannot randomly assign children to divorced and non-divorced families, my hypothesis about the causal impact of divorce remains tentative.

A further limitation of the research included in this study is the lack of attention to diversity issues. Certainly, gender, ethnicity, race, age and other demographic variables play a major role in how children experience parental divorce. These variables influence individual outcomes on a variety of levels. Thus, researchers must consider these characteristics as they review other research and as they contemplate the specific needs of the children involved.

The debate over the issue of whether parent separation and divorce and family structure are the cause of various psychological problems faced by many children today is an important one. Researchers have suggested the notion that parent conflict before, during and after the divorce places children at risk. The one conclusion that can be drawn from the existing literature about divorce is that changes resulting from divorce can be very stressful, confusing and challenging for most children.

As a result, counseling programs to help children deal effectively with the concerns and issues they face are necessary. An additional advantage to children may be the inclusion of their parents in these types of programs, especially where conflict between parents is evident. Anger and conflict management to improve parental relationship may be a key variable in helping children adjust to divorce.

Findings largely support the argument that family structure influence child development through its impact on family processes. In other words, children of divorce are at risk for adjustment problems because their parents are less likely to engage in competent, consistent parenting and are more likely to engage in conflict exchanges than parents who are married to each other.


Amato, P.R. (1993). Children's adjustment to divorce: Theories, hypotheses, and empirical support. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 23-38.

Brown, Alec. Young, Ellie. Allen, Melissa. The Effects of Divorce on Children (November, 2003). NASP Communique, Vol. 32, #3.

Hyatt, K. (November, 1999) Children's Adjustment to Divorce Largely in Hands of Parents, with One Exception: Dad's Departure Depresses Boys. Journal of Marriage and the Family: 44.

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