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Chapter 14: Rebuilding: Family Life Following Divorce

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1 Chapter 14: Rebuilding: Family Life Following Divorce

2 Aftermath of Divorce: Transitions
Binuclear Family Separate households that form after separation or divorce Two subsystems Maternal Paternal Replace old patterns of interaction with new Replace existing family boundaries with new ones

3 Former Spouse Relationships
Perfect Pals Divorced parents who remain friends Children benefit from shared parenting and decision making Sometimes maintain extended family relationships

4 Former Spouse Relationships
Cooperative Colleagues Not friends but able to cooperate Work to keep conflicts at a minimum Shared parenting becomes a priority Will consult counselors to help children

5 Former Spouse Relationships
Angry Associates Anger is integral part of the relationship Harbor feelings of resentment, bitterness Children are caught in the middle of parents’ battles Effective parenting is not a goal for these parents

6 Former Spouse Relationships
Fiery Foes Incapable of cooperating Relationship is marked by litigation Unable to remember anything positive about the marriage Blame each other for every problem associated with the marriage

7 Former Spouse Relationships
Dissolved Duos Break off any contact One partner just disappears Mother left with the burdens of reorganizing the family In rare cases, non-custodial parent may kidnap children

8 How Divorce Affects Children and Adolescents
Externalizing difficulties Children may exhibit the following: Aggressive misbehaviors Noncompliance Disobedience Delinquency Increased absences from school Increased aggressiveness

9 How Divorce Affects Children and Adolescents
Internalizing Difficulties Results in emotional problems such as: Worry Feelings of unhappiness Anxiety Depression Distress Guilt Poor self concept Less intimacy with parents

10 How Divorce Affects Children and Adolescents
Cognitive Deficits and Academic Difficulties Children who experience their parent’s divorce have more difficulty in the classroom Inability to concentrate in school Negative effects on their ability to meet scholastic expectations May affect ability to interact with teachers and peers

11 Table 14.1: Children’s Reaction to Divorce by Developmental Stage

12 Children’s and Adolescents Adaptation
Interparental Conflict Will account for more negative outcomes in children Separation from attachment figure May trigger difficulties in interpersonal relationships – friendships and love relationships

13 Children’s and Adolescents Adaptation
Temporal influences Passage of time may play a role in children’s long-term adjustment Child’s age at time of divorce affects overall adjustment

14 Figure 14.1: in the textbook is Custodial Mothers, by Race

15 Relationship Between Custodial Parent and Child
Custodial Parents’ Behavior Changes Less frequent display of affection Ability to communicate declines Parenting may be more negative, less consistent Children assume household responsibilities Children exhibit greater independence

16 Relationship Between Noncustodial Parent and Child
Success or failure of relationship depends on Frequency of visitation Quality of interaction

17 Relationship Between Noncustodial Parent and Child
Remarriage of parent Children feel stress Have to face more adjustments Visitation may decrease

18 Relationship Between Noncustodial Parent and Child
Family Economics Economic hardship is post-divorce for many families Child support is rarely sufficient to meet the living expenses of mother and children

19 Co-Parenting in Binuclear Families
Factors Impacting Parenting post divorce Parents’ education level Income level Time elapsed since divorce Remarriage of on or both parents Who initiated the divorce The legal process of the divorce

20 Father-Child Relationships Following Divorce
Children who experience a warm post-divorce relationship with their fathers have Higher self esteem Fewer behavioral problems Better social skills Better cognitive skills Better academic skills

21 Father-Child Relationships Following Divorce
Noncustodial fathers tend to be More permissive A recreational, companion father Less sensitive to children’s emotional needs Less supportive in times of crisis and stress Overwhelmed with the parenting role especially with infants and pre-school children

22 Father-Child Relationships Following Divorce
Overall, divorced fathers Spend more time with sons than daughters Are less involved with older children than younger children Are more involved with their first born than their later born children Stay involved with infants born prematurely Stay involved with children with difficult temperaments

23 Father-Child Relationships Following Divorce
Ways in which mothers discourage children’s contact with noncustodial fathers Children not ready when father comes to pick them up Engage in conflicts at time of pick up Criticize noncustodial father in front of children Increase geographical distance Take fathers back and forth to court

24 Challenges for Single Parents
Changes in Household Finances A significant number of households with children headed by mothers live in poverty Changes in Residence Because of changes in finance family no longer able to live in pre-divorce home Changes in Boundaries Once shared parenting roles now are covered independently by each parent

25 Challenges for Single Parents
Changes in the emotional environment Divorce hurts all parties involved Mothers have to assume all authority and responsibility Fathers have difficulty managing the emotional climate

26 Challenges for Single Parents
Dating Many newly single individuals rush into dating Dating fills void of loss of family Dating helps return to normalcy 50% will remarry within three years

27 Remarriage Remarriage – when one or both of the spouses have been previously married Early remarriage – refers to early stages of the new relationship Stepfamily – newly merged family

28 Remarriage Middle remarriage: 3–5 years into the new relationship, family becomes more cohesive Late remarriage: 6–10 years after the remarriage

29 Remarriage Stability 60% of remarriages end in divorce
Couples do not understand identity of step family There is a breakdown in commitment, cohesion, and communication

30 Step Families Today Blended families – term used to soften negative connotations of step family Biological mother/stepfather Biological father/stepmother Complex stepfamily Joint biological-stepfamily

31 Table 14.2: Types of Stepfamilies

32 Table 14.3: The Ways that Stepfamilies and Nuclear Families Differ

33 Children in Stepfamily Households
Siblings - share the same two biological parents Stepsiblings - not biologically related but parents are married to one another Half-siblings - share one biological child Mutual child - child is born to remarried couple Residential stepchildren - live in remarried couples’ household majority of time Nonresidential stepchildren - live in the household less than half time

34 Stepfamily Characteristics
Loss of parent or partner Adults grieve losses of partner, the marital relationship, dreams, and those associated with new “everythings” Children grieve losses of parent, stability, parent’s accessibility, and fantasy family

35 More Stepfamily Characteristics
Children are members of two or more households Family boundaries are ambiguous Family roles are ambiguous Disparity of individual, marital and family life cycles Several loyalty conflicts Society promotes widespread negative connotation of stepfamilies Experience more stress than nuclear families

36 Stepfamily Challenges
Challenges for Adults Financial difficulties Establishing discipline Bonding as a couple Grieving past losses

37 Stepfamily Challenges
Challenges for Children Loss of power and control Guilt Loyalty conflicts Anger Fear

38 Successful Stepfamily Living
Key characteristics of families who successfully adapt to the changes of divorce and remarriage Develop realistic expectations Allow time for mourning Couples nurture a strong relationship Accept that becoming a stepparent takes time

39 Successful Stepfamily Living
Stepparents develop the role of disciplinarian Develop a stepfamily history Work cooperatively with the absent parent

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