Adolescents and the experience of parental divorce
: including reference to the expectations of teacher trainees

  • David McLoughlin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aims of this study were to investigate the impact of parental divorce on adolescents, and the expectations of teacher trainees with regard to children of divorce. The literature related to children of divorce is reviewed and the results of interviews with a sample of recently divorced custodial parents and their adolescent children, using a structured interview schedule, are described. The semantic differential technique was used to obtain ratings of a sample of teacher trainees' expectations of children of divorce as compared with their ratings of several other categories of children. The results of the interviews with parents and their adolescent children suggested that parental divorce does not necessarily interfere with adolescent development and that for some adolescents the reduction of conflict in the home might enhance normal development. They also suggest that adolescents would prefer to live in a one parent home rather than a two parent home which is fraught with conflict, and that it is preferable for parents who are unable to resolve such conflict in any other way to separate rather than allow it to persist. The ratings of children of divorce by teacher trainees suggest that they hold more negative expectations of such children than of other groups • such as adopted children. The contrast between this finding and the results of the interviews with adolescents and their parents lends some support to the existence of the divorce myth; that is, the cultural belief that divorce has the inherent power to make people unhappy. The implications for policy, practice and further research are discussed.
Date of Award1982
Original languageEnglish


  • adolescents
  • parental divorce
  • teacher trainees
  • children of divorce
  • teacher expectations
  • divorce
  • adolescence

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