Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 1 » Divorce: Trends and Consequences - Divorcing In Middle And Late Life, The Career Divorced, Effects Of Divorce In The Family System

Divorce: Trends and Consequences - Effects Of Divorce In The Family System

age aging social journal children support parents

Because older adults are heavily involved in exchange relationships with members of their families, divorce may affect their lives even when it occurs to someone else in the family. Colleen Johnson (1988) reported that two-thirds of the adults she studied turned to aged parents for instrumental support, especially childcare and other services, following divorce. In addition, emotional support and practical advice are frequently offered. According to Raeann Hamon (1995), however, older parents struggle with finding a balance between offering support and avoiding interference in their children's postdivorce lives.

The grandparent-grandchild relationship also is subject to dramatic change when adult offspring divorce. Whether these relationships are intensified or weakened clearly depends on the custodial status of the divorcing offspring. Because mothers still maintain primary custody of children in the majority of divorces, maternal grandparents often experience heightened involvement with their grandchildren following an adult child's divorce. This intensified grandparental role typically results from the increase in assistance they are providing to the single, custodial mother (their daughter). In contrast, paternal grandparents are often delegated to a more distant position, characterized by ritualistic contact on special occasions.

Finally, the flow of support to aging parents may be threatened by the divorce of adult offspring. As grown children experience greater vulnerability and need during and after their divorces, they may be less able to assist the older generation. In addition, the reduction in involvement with former children-in-law may reduce the size of the potential support system for older adults.

TERESA M. COONEY JEONG SHIN AN

BIBLIOGRAPHY

AQUILINO, W. S. "Later Life Parental Divorce and Widowhood: Impact on Young Adults' Assessment of Parent-Child Relations." Journal of Marriage and the Family 56 (1994): 908–922.

BULCROFT, K. A., and BULCROFT, R. A. "The Timing of Divorce: Effects on Parent-Child Relationships in Later Life." Research on Aging 13 (1991): 226–243.

CHERLIN, A. J., and FURSTERNBERG, F. F., JR. The New American Grandparent. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

COONEY, T. M. "Young Adults' Relations with Parents: The Influence of Recent Parental Divorce." Journal of Marriage and the Family 56 (1994): 45–56.

COONEY, T. M., and UHLENBERG, P. "The Role of Divorce in Men's Relations with Their Adult Children after Midlife." Journal of Marriage and the Family 52 (1990): 677–688.

COSTA, P., and SIEGLER, I. "Why Women Fare Better than Men After Middle-Age Divorce." Jet 96 (1999): 46–47.

DECKERT, P., and LANGELIER, R. "The Late-Divorce Phenomenon: The Causes and Impact of Ending 20-Year-Old or Longer Marriages." Journal of Divorce 1 (1978): 381–390.

FARNSWORTH, J.; PETT, M. A.; and LUND, D. A. "Predictors of Loss Management and Well-Being in Later Life Widowhood and Divorce." Journal of Family Issues 10 (1989): 102–121.

GANONG, L. H., and COLEMAN, M. Changing Families, Changing Responsibilities. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999.

GOVE, W. R., and SHIN, H.-C. "The Psychological Well-Being of Divorced and Widowed Men and Women." Journal of Family Issues 10 (1989): 122–144.

HAMON, R. R. "Parents as Resources When Adult Children Divorce." Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 23 (1995): 171–183.

JOHNSON, C. L. "Postdivorce Reorganization of Relationships Between Divorcing Children and Their Parents." Journal of Marriage and the Family 50 (1988): 221–231.

MILLER, N. B.; SMERGLIA, V. L.; GAUDET, D. S.; and KITSON, G. C. "Stressful Life Events, Social Support, and the Distress of Widowed and Divorced Women." Journal of Family Issues 19 (1998): 181–203.

National Center for Health Statistics. "Advanced Report of Final Divorce Statistics, 1988." Monthly Vital Statistics Report 39, no. 12, Supplement (1991).

O'BRYANT, S. L., and STRAW, L. B. "Relationship of Previous Divorce and Previous Widowhood to Older Women's Adjustment to Recent Widowhood." Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 15 (1991): 46–67.

SMYER, M. A., and HOFLAND, B. F. "Divorce and Family Support in Late Life: Emerging Concerns." Journal of Family Issues 3 (1982): 61–77.

TUCKER, J. S.; KRESSIN, N. R.; SPIRO, A., III; and RUSCIO, J. "Intrapersonal Characteristics and The Timing of Divorce: A Prospective Investigation." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 15 (1998): 211–225.

UHLENBERG, P.; COONEY, T.; and BOYD, R. "Divorce for Women After Midlife." Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 45 (1990): S3–S11.

U.S. Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of United States, 119th ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999.

WEBSTER, P. S., and HERZOG, A. R. "Effects of Parental Divorce and Memories of Family Problems on Relationships Between Adult Children and Their Parents." Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 50 (1995): S24–S34.

WRIGHT, C. L., and MAXWELL, J. W. "Social Support During Adjustment to Later-Life Divorce: How Adult Children Help Parents." Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 15 (1991): 21–48.

[back] Divorce: Trends and Consequences - The Career Divorced

User Comments

The following comments are not guaranteed to be that of a trained medical professional. Please consult your physician for advice.

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or