Parental Divorce, Perceived Parental Conflict Dimensions, Perception of Gains, Growth, and Parent-child Relationship in College Students
The primary focus of this study was to examine the possible associations among perceptions of pre-divorce parental conflict, perceived gains of parental divorce, posttraumatic growth, and current relationship quality with parents. The literature review focuses on college student development, empirical studies related to negative and positive outcomes for children, adolescents, and college students of divorce, and factors related to negative and positive outcomes for children, adolescents, and college students of divorce. Findings are based on data I collected from 430 participants from Purdue University. I addressed my questions and tested the associated hypotheses through the use of MANOVA and hierarchical multiple regression. The results of the present study indicated that college students with divorced parents reported greater levels of frequency and intensity of parental conflict and lower levels of parental conflict resolution than their peers with married parents. In addition, students with divorced parents reported lower supportive interactions with fathers and higher negative interactions with fathers than those with married parents. For those with divorced parents, existential gains were positively associated with posttraumatic growth, self-blame for parental conflict was positively associated with negative interactions with mother, and combined frequency and intensity of conflict was positively associated with negative interactions with father. Additionally, existential gains moderated the relationship between self-blame for conflict and negative interactions with father such that the positive association between these variables was only present at low levels of existential gains, but not present at moderate or high levels of existential gains. Further, romantic gains moderated the relationship between conflict resolution and negative interactions with father such that the negative relationship between these variables was only present at moderate and high levels of romantic gains, but not present at low levels of romantic gains. Counseling psychologists could use the present findings when working with college students who have experienced parental divorce to possibly help them identify existential gains related to their parents' divorce and connect those gains to posttraumatic growth. Additionally, clinicians may be able to possibly normalize that relationships with their fathers may be more challenging for college students who experienced parental divorce.
Servaty-Seib, Purdue University.
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