The long-term consequences of divorce on adult children's mental health appear to be under-investigated. Specifically, the respective roles of parental separation and the level of perceived parental conflict are still controversial.
This paper considers a model between depression and anxiety disorders (DAD) during the adulthood of children of divorced/married parents via the perceived level of parental conflict. We predicted that the level of perceived parental conflict that would account for the influence of divorce on the level of DAD during adulthood.
A sample of 121 adults (MAge=26.14, SD=1.74, 91 women), consisting of 55 children of divorced parents, 66 children of parents who are still cohabiting, completed a questionnaire assessing DAD, and perceived level of parental conflict.
Although results do not provide evidence of differences between the two groups, the level of perceived conflict significantly predicted DAD during adulthood in both groups although with a small effect size.
This could imply that it is not separation per se that predicts the long-term effects of divorce but rather the exposure to parental conflict. Moreover, consistently with previous findings, participants’ perceived level of conflict in the family was not a significant predictor of divorce between the parents. Limitations of the study and its clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Divorce, Parental conflict, Marital turmoil, Depression, Anxiety disorders