Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Dr. Edward Trembley
Dr. Robert Betz
Dr. Francis Gross
The impact of parental divorce on children under the age of 18 has been studied extensively (Hetherington, 1979, 1981; Kurdek & Siesky, 1980; Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989; Wallerstein & Kelly , 1974, 1976, 1980). There has been far less research addressing effects of parental divorce on young adults (Bianchi, Rosen, & Reilly , 1987; Cain, 1989; Cooney, Smyer, Hagestad, & Klock, 1986; Farber, Primavera, & Felner, 1983; Kaufmann, 1987/1988). This may be due to the "common" assumption that young adults are psychologically separated from their parents in such a way that they suffer minimally when encountering parental divorce.
In this study, young adults from two Midwestern universities were asked to complete a brief survey, a Multiscore Depression Inventory (Berndt, 1986), and a Psychological Separation Inventory (Hoffman, 1984).
One group of participants consisted of 40 young adults whose parents had separated and/or divorced in the past 3 years after having been married to each other for at least 15 years. The second group, the control, consisted of 40 young adults from intact families in which the parents had been married to each other for at least 18 years. This group was a stratified random sample which achieved a similar size and gender balance with the first group.
Using the independent t test with two-tailed probability, young adults experiencing recent parental separation and/or divorce were found to be significantly more depressed than young adults from intact families . Female young adults experiencing recent parental divorce were not found to be more depressed than their male counterparts. Using a Pearson product-moment correlation, the degree to which young adults experiencing recent parental separation and/or divorce were psychologically separated from their parents was found not to correlate with the amount of depression experienced.
It was concluded that young adults experiencing recent parental separation and/or divorce experience loss. I t is important that psychological separation from parents is understood in the context of connection. What a divorce means to a young adult will be a function of the way in which the individual experiences or interprets the meaning of the divorce and various things that are connected to the divorce.
Oppenhuizen, Mary, "How Gender and Psychological Separation from Parents Interact with Depression in the Young Adult Experience of Parental Separation and Divorce" (1992). Dissertations. 1972.