Family cohesiveness, flexibility and maternal anger:Boon or detriment to children’s adjustment?

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Abstract

The present chapter examines the relationship between family structure, as expressed in cohesion and adaptability, as well as the emotional state-parental anger-with children's behavior problems. Specifically, divorced mothers and one of their adolescent children were tested in a multiple respondent design in which both mothers and children rated children's behavior problems. High levels of family cohesion and adaptability were predicted to be related to fewer behavior problems. It was also predicted that high anger levels in mothers would be associated with more behavior problems in children than medium levels, while low levels of anger were examined post hoc. The predictions with regard to family structure were confirmed with the highest level of cohesion and adaptability related to the fewest behavior problems, while the lowest level was related to the most behavior problems when mothers rated these problems, as predicted. In contrast, when children performed the ratings they indicated the most behavior problems at high levels of cohesion and adaptability. As for parental anger, an interaction was found between state-anger and gender. Girls had more behavior problems at higher levels of maternal state-anger, as predicted. In contrast, boys were found to have few behavior problems at high levels of maternal anger. In both cases this occurred whether mothers or children rated behavior problems. There were also respondent differences, with mothers rating their boys' behavior problems higher at medium versus low levels of state-anger, while boys tended to rate their behavior problems as higher at low versus high levels of maternal anger. These findings were explained in terms of adolescent children's needs for clear role hierarchies, stability, and parental assertiveness to promote optimal adjustment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-87
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Divorce and Remarriage
Volume39
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003

Keywords

  • Anger and children’s adjustment
  • Family structure

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