Reframing the Effects of Divorce
Because divorce has become a prominent fixture in society within the last several decades, a significant amount of research has been conducted on divorce and its subsequent effects on the family system. Many of these studies have shown the negative effects of divorce on members of the family, particularly children. Previous literature on coping with divorce has outlined the strategies families use to manage these negative effects. Rather than focusing solely on the negative side of divorce, this study sought to provide a more complete picture of the effects of divorce, including the possibility of positive outcomes. Nine in-depth interviews were conducted with adult children of divorce to examine their feelings about divorce, the factors that contribute to these feelings, and their coping strategies. Changes in family structure, lack of divorce information, role reversal, parents’ sadness, continued conflict, parental disclosure, remarriage, and financial difficulties contributed to participants’ negative feelings of confusion, neglect, anger, sadness, and feeling caught. Having a voice, parental involvement, parents’ happiness, decreased conflict, and remarriage contributed to their positive feelings of empowerment, relief, and closeness with family members. In addition to these factors, coping strategies denial, patience, mediation, role acceptance, open communication, social support, and learning from the divorce also increased participants’ positive feelings and decreased their negative feelings. Overall, participants’ described parental divorce as a continuous and difficult, yet worthwhile process for themselves and their families.