The “D” Word

My Rational:

As I said in my previous blog I wanted to explore topics on social cognition that was relevant to my life, in this case, yes I am a child of divorce. I also have a younger sister who went through this life experience, but looking back we both dealt with it in different ways and it got me thinking, why? Our parents told us many times it wasn’t our fault, so why would we all of a sudden change our normal behaviours or start hanging out with a different crowd? I did some digging and found a few articles that may explain what divorce actually does to children growing up.


The first article I examined somewhat gives an overview of what components of divorce may have the greatest impact in relationships, psychosocial aspects and adjustment in the future between the individual and the parents. The study examined 146 Females and 21 Males (167 undergraduate students) and all it comprised of was a questionnaire.

The findings showed that high levels of interparental conflict were found to be negatively associated with adjustment and current intimacy with parents. A poor relationship with both parents was negatively associated with several domains of psychosocial adjustment, while high intimacy with at least one parent was positively associated with adjustment. Intimacy with mother and with father were found to be the most important predictors of psychosocial adjustment. This investigation highlights the importance of maintaining a good parent/young adult relationship, particularly in divorced families. The findings indicate that future research should examine multiple family variables when assessing the impact of parental divorce or conflict on young adult adjustment. (1)

I will be the first to admit that my relationships between my parents and I weren’t equal or the best… But I can honestly say now, that I’ve found common ground with the both of them and have begun to build relationships with them separately. So basically what this study is trying to saying is due to the fact that my parents fought like cats and dogs it should have taken me a while to adjust with coming to terms about my parents and as well as caused me some setbacks in psychosocial aspects of my life. This has the potential for creating many behavioural problems in the future but it all depends on the environment that the individual is exposed to.


This article was a tough read for me due to some of the language used but I love when I can find an article that combines two fields I’m interested in (in this case its psychology and biology). The study investigated whether the specific polymorphism of an oxytocin receptor (rs53576) moderated the relationship between divorce during your adolescence and depression symptoms in young adulthood. For those that don’t know what oxytocin is, it’s a neuropeptide that has multiple functions; the main concepts that should be noted is that it’s related to behaviours like nurturance and empathy as well as complex social cognition functions.

The study was longitudinal and followed 340 individuals during their adolescence and into their young adult lives. The findings showed that females that had the GG gene and had parents who divorced when she was in her adolescence showed twice as many depressive symptoms compared to females that had the AG or AA genotype. It is also stated that it showed no pattern among males (2)

I find this study super interesting but with many flaws. First off it doesn’t really discuss why the pattern showed up in females but not in males and it also doesn’t really explain why they thought that having the specific genotype was linked to more depressive symptoms but nonetheless still a good article to provide a biological perspective as to why one “sister” may be more depressed than the other even though we experienced the same event. BUT it also happened when we were different ages which leads me to my last study that will hopefully solidify why we reacted like we did.

Timing of Divorce:

Now that severity of divorce, biology and environment have been covered, I feel like timing is an important component of how a child would deal with a divorce growing up. What I found was different than what I expected, the population based follow-up study showed that timing actually affected boys more than girls (finally!) especially the latency age (7 to 12). (3) The study doesn’t exactly go into why it affected boys more than girls and there was only speculation as to why the latency stage of childhood was so vulnerable to the effects of divorce.

My Conclusions:

While I won’t bore you with the details as to how my sister and I dealt with my parents’ divorce, what I can say is that I am using it as a positive tool for myself as well as others to embrace different perspectives of social cognition and also learn something from those experiences. I’d have to say that out of the three topics on how divorce affects an individual, the severity and relationships before and after the divorce is what probably changed the way my sister and I behaved the most. It certainly raises a lot of other questions as to why I behave like I do..


(1) Richardson, S., McCabe, M.P. (2001). Parental divorce during adolescence and adjustment in early adulthood. Adolescence, Fall; 36(143) 467-489. PMID:11817629

(2) Windle, M., & Mrug, S. (2015). Hypothesis-driven research for G × E interactions: the relationship between oxytocin, parental divorce during adolescence, and depression in young adulthood. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01322.

(3) Palosaari, U., & Aro, H. (1994). Effect of timing of parental divorce on the vulnerability of children to depression on young adulthood. Department of Public Health, 29(115), 681-690. PMID:7832032


9 thoughts on “The “D” Word

  1. I found some interesting information that might help supplement the information you have already given. I found research about marriage and divorce and the effects it has on children. The study says that in 2003- 32% of children lived in single parent homes, that 55% of Americans under the age of 18 have divorced parents and one out of every two marriages end in divorce. The researchers in this article also say since 1973 at least one million children per year are affected by divorce. Children who’s parents remain married have many benefits, according to this article, including higher socio-economic status, exposure to effective and cooperative parenting and relationships, lower stress, higher emotional well- being, greater bond to both parents and they are more likely to succeed in school. I found this information really interesting, I personally did not know divorce was that common, and affected so many children.


    1. The point you brought up about how children whose parents remained married received many benefits was quite interesting, I wonder if that information had to do with parents that were experiencing conflict or violence in their relationship or if it was a normal “nuclear” type family. It took me a while to find a relevant article that wasn’t from the 80’s or early 90’s so I feel like this whole topic is under researched. What I did find was an article that looked at divorce rates of individuals aged 50 and older between the years 1990-2010. The findings stated that the divorce rate had doubled since the study started and that about 1 in 4 divorces in 2010 occurred in persons 50+. They attributed it to demographic characteristics, economic resources, and martial biology.(1)
      I feel like it’s due to the fact that divorce is not such a taboo thing to do anymore in society. Before it was quite frowned upon and I feel like there was a correlation with the higher integration of religion in society compared to the present, but that just purely my theory. The later age could also be because parents want wait to divorce so that their kids are moved out of the house, but that’s probably harder to do now especially because of the idea of the “sandwich generation”. Which basically means that our parents are having to look after us (the kids) because we are waiting longer to move out, as well as their parents (the grandparents) because they are living longer and requiring more care. (2)

      (1) Brown, S. L., & Lin, I. (2012). The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults, 1990-2010. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67(6), 731-741. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbs089

      (2) Sandwich Generation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandwich_generation


  2. I am an offspring of divorced parents and both are remarried now. So, I appreciate your post, Avery! To add to your blog, Amato (1996) and Wolfinger (1999) both concluded that the enduring consequences of parental divorce is a greater risk for divorce later in life when children themselves marry. Children of divorced parents have a significantly higher divorce rate than children whose parents never divorced. This effect has come to be known as the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Segrin, Taylor and Altman (2005) provided a social cognitive explanation for this concept by discussing inhibitory and disinhibitory effects. Inhibitory effects occur when people observe models experiencing negative consequences for enacting certain behaviors. So, if the child of divorced parents perceive the divorce as having negative consequences, the child has a negative reaction to marriage. The other effect, disinhibitory effects, occur when restraints on behavior are diminished as a result of observing a model perform the behavior, typically with some attendant positive outcomes. This means that observing parents’ divorce could potentially teach offspring that marriage need not be permanent and that divorce is an effective solution to marital difficulties. I do not particularly agree with this because I think that an offspring of divorced parents will most likely succeed in a marriage because, in a way, they are more equipped with the knowledge of marriage and will not rush into anything. Maybe I am biased. What do you think?

    These are my sources:




    1. That’s funny that you bring up the topic of integrational transmission of divorce, because in my eyes I saw how much fighting and turmoil my parents caused in our house and I vowed that that would never be something my children would ever have to go through. Now, I’m not married yet and I definitely don’t have children but I am in a long term committed relationship that I have put A LOT of work and thought into because of parents’ divorce. So I feel like I’m on the same page as your last comment due to the fact that the offspring of divorced parents have more knowledge and they can see what the consequences can be if they rush into it.
      I also noticed that the first two articles that you looked into for your information for the notion that children of parents of divorce are at greater risk themselves to divorce are 18 to 21 years old, so I feel like that information may be a little outdated and possibly a reason why it’s contrary to both of our beliefs.
      I found a paper that did a series of 10 year updates in children/ adolescence starting in 1996 that compared children of married, conflicted, and divorced parents and their psychological adjustment of them continuing on into young adulthood. The paper concluded that children of divorced parents had more adjustment problems than children of never divorced parents but the child’s view of “that divorce” and the issues leading up to it were the major cause of these symptoms. The article also brings to light the fact that newer research documenting the negative effects of parental conflict and troubled marriages on children are needed.

      Kelly, J. B. (2000). Children’s Adjustment in Conflicted Marriage and Divorce: A Decade Review of Research. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39(8), 963-973. doi:10.1097/00004583-200008000-00007


  3. I really love you topic and it is personal to me as I am also a child of a divorce and it has had a negative impact on me concerning how I deal with males. I am close to my mother therefore, I am quick to blame men and push away the good ones. I looked at an article which states the effects divorce has on children especially girls in relationships later on in their life. Ex: “Parental divorce often leads to low trust among children,2) and those who casually date exhibit “the strongest effects of parental divorce, suggesting that the repercussions of parental divorce may be in place before the young adults form their own romantic relationships.”3) The divorce of their parents makes dating and romance more difficult for children as they reach adulthood. Parental divorce horrifies young adults’ heterosexual relationship experiences though the connection is more evident for women than for men, according to one study.4)

    These effects carry into adulthood. When compared with women from intact families, women from divorced families also reported less trust and satisfaction in romantic relationships.5) Children of divorced parents fear being rejected, and a lack of trust frequently hinders a deepening of their relationship.6) One study showed that individuals whose parents divorced were more likely than individuals whose parents remained married to believe that relationships were beset by infidelity and the absence of trust, and they were also more likely to believe that relationships should be approached with caution.7). You should look more into it really interesting overall, great topic. References, http://www.marripedia.org/effect_of_divorce_on_children_s_future_relationships


    1. I like the point you brought up about trust, especially with individuals of the opposite sex. It made me think of a topic that I learned in one of my lower psychology classes that had to do with Freud and his theory of psychosexual stages. There are five: oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. The one I want to highlight is probably one of Freud’s weirdest theories but I feel like it actually kind of fits with our topic, the phallic stage. It starts when a child is three and ends at six and is described as the Electra (for females) and the Oedipus (for males) complex in which the child develops incestuous feelings for the parent of the opposite sex. (1) As weird as the concept is, I feel like there is possibly factors that could influence our subconscious. And the divorce one experiences at any time in their life (as long as it’s after three) could affect how we see people we want to have relations with in the future because of that influence we saw of our parents. Now I’m not saying we all want to get with our parents but I do think that the way we see them affects us on a subconscious level that will either attract us to people that are either alike or unlike our parents. This could be where the term “daddy issues” stemmed from?

      (1) Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theories. (2016, December 19). Retrieved January 30, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freud's_Psychoanalytic_Theories#Phallic_Stage


  4. I like how you were able to connect the topic so well, unto you and social cognition. And I admire your bravery for being able to share about this topic, it mustn’t have been an easy choice. To build upon your findings of divorce, I found a journal article quite pertinent to this topic. However, your blog on divorce is built more along the lines of how children cope with divorce and its effect on their social cognition. This article is about the divorced women and men, which I find is an interesting point of view which you may enjoy looking at. This peer-reviewed journal article is titled “Psychological well-being of individuals after divorce: The role of social support.” In the article, there is a study in which looks at the adjustment process post-divorce through social support.

    Kolodziej-Zaleska. (2016). Current issues in personality psychology: Psychological well-being of individuals after divorce: The role of social support. Termedia Publishing House (at the request of the University of Gdansk).


  5. I’m no longer positive where you are getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend some time finding out more or working out more. Thanks for great information I was searching for this information for my mission.


  6. Thank you a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually know what you’re talking about! Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my web site =). We will have a link exchange agreement between us!


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