University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal - Positive Outcomes of Divorce: A Multi-Method Study on the Effects of Parental Divorce on Children
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Discussion

The findings reveal that in many ways parental divorce does not have an impact on young adults' ability to form and maintain romantic relationships. While divorce may not necessarily influence their attitudes towards relationships in general, it can cause the child to be more cautious and unsure of their own ability to form a healthy relationship. However, there are still cases in which children of divorce may experience positive outcomes. The results show that the age of the child at the time of the divorce does not determine the amount of difficulty they will have maintaining relationships. They also show that the presence of parental divorce is not a significant predictor of how positive or negative the respondents' romantic relationships would turn out, as respondents from both samples reported fairly similar outcomes in the frequency and duration of their relationships as well as similar attitudes.

Interview findings were similar to those in Scabini and Cigoli's (2008) study, where females were more likely to interpret the absence of a father figure (not necessarily the biological father) as men being unreliable, which would either deter them from participating in long-term romantic relationships or at the very least emphasize the importance of finding a partner who would be stable enough to meet their standards. Further, the results of this study aligned with the notion that males from divorced families had a higher chance of becoming unsure of their ability to have a healthy relationship with their partners, primarily because they were not sure how a healthy relationship was supposed to turn out.

While the majority of participants reported conflict between their parents, those who reported a post-divorce relationship that was amicable (or at the very least lacked conflict) were among those who displayed longerlasting relationships. Consequently, these participants' relationships with their biological fathers were not as affected as participants whose parents had a conflicting post-divorce relationship. This finding ties in with the work of Amato et al. (2011), who linked close fatherchild relationships with lower adolescent behavioral problems.

In terms of positive outcomes the interviews were the most revealing by far, illustrating the desire of the interviewees to learn from their parents' relationships and navigate their own without making the same mistakes. This emphasis to perform better than their parents in areas such as communication and pacing of the relationship may have some connection with the fact that seven out of ten interviewees reported living primarily with their mother; in other words, there may be an association with the emphasis of these aspects of romantic relationships and a primarily maternal influence on children of parental divorce. However, this possibility would require further examination in a future study. Either way, using the qualitative data gathered from the interviews, it can still be argued that while a person's personal experience with parental divorce may vary in detail, there is a general desire among children of divorce to have a more amicable and stable romantic relationship than their parents.

Due to time constraints and lack of incentives, only 233 people responded to the survey. Further, only ten of those respondents participated in face-to-face interviews. A larger sample size may have yielded more significant results. Respondent age may have also contributed to the lack of significance in the data set. Due to the respondents' relatively young age (?=21.55), it could be argued that many of them were not old enough to have experienced a serious relationship or to have had enough life experiences to shape their opinions and attitudes towards romantic relationships.

The methods used to measure the amount of difficulty experienced with romantic relationships may not have been sufficient. Perhaps attitudes towards relationships, frequency of relationships and average duration were not enough to gauge a respondent's proficiency with romantic relationship formation and maintenance, as illustrated by the interview data. Other factors, such as how serious the relationships were, reasons for the relationship ending, whether the respondent was responsible for the termination of the relationship, and level of communication would have provided a more accurate depiction of how well respondents were able to manage their relationships.

If this research were to be repeated, a broader age spectrum would allow for a more accurate representation of how parental divorce affects young adults. Likewise, a more racially diverse sample would provide a better idea of how parental divorce and romantic relationships differ (or liken) across cultures, as the majority of respondents fell into the White/Caucasian category. Given the personal nature of the topic, some form of incentive may be useful in obtaining respondents for a more adequate sample size.

In order to prevent survey fatigue among my sample, which was comprised of young adult college students, I had to keep the survey relatively brief. This brevity prevented me from including too many variables in the survey, such as those included in other cited literature (i.e., familial relationships, views on marriage).

Despite the limitations of this study, it can still be argued that there are instances in which parental divorce has a positive impact on young adults' abilities to form and maintain romantic relationships. While the survey data can only reflect specific aspects of one's experience with parental divorce (i.e., optimism/pessimism, self-esteem, etc.), the interviews depict the personal experiences and potential for a bright future children of parental divorce can attain. Being able to recognize the pitfalls of romantic relationships and how to avoid or properly remedy them as a result of having experiences parental divorce reveals a silver lining that one can expect from such a scenario.

Appendix A >>