final paper - Chrissy Castellano Psych 438 Final Paper...

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Chrissy Castellano Psych 438 – Final Paper April 15 th , 2008 Conflict, Divorce and the Adolescent Personality: What Really Matters ? The statistics surrounding divorce are everywhere—according to Divorce Magazine: “there were 2,230,000 marriages in 2005… [And] for every one thousand marriages, 3.6 ended in divorce.” In addition to this, one quarter of the adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s in the United States are children of divorce. Numerous studies serve to explain the factors that contribute to divorces and the effect on the group most influenced by the divorce: the children. The family structure is one of, if not the most important factor in the development of a child’s personality. In fact, marital conflict and dissatisfaction even without divorce was linked to problem behavior in children, adjustment problems and depressive symptoms, (Cui et al, 2007), (El-Sheikh et al, 2008). The post-divorce living arrangements and parent relationships are also key effectors in a child’s life, physical health and personality characteristics, (Fabricius & Luecken, 2007). The following paper serves to explore and explain the role of marital conflict, emotional conditions and the affect on the child’s developing personality before, during and after a divorce. Parental presence or absence and the affect on the child, along with marriage beliefs and values in adolescents of divorced and still-married families are also examined. Marital conflict is “defined as any difference of opinion, whether minor or major and whether primarily positive or negative. Marital conflict can take many forms,
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including displays of both positive and negative emotions and constructive (e.g., problem-solving) and destructive (e.g., physical assault) tactics,” (Elmore-Stanton & Buckhalt, 2008). Oftentimes, the conflict is not limited to the parents—the children are often abused as well (be it emotionally or physically). Aggressive parents oftentimes give rise to emotionally insecure children and foster internalizing issues within their children as well (such to say that these children hold in emotions and/or take seemingly small events and “take them personally”). Hypersensitivity and unstable moods are also reactionary (perhaps defensive mechanisms) behaviors exhibited in these unstable-type households. In a 2008 study, it was found that, “aggression against either parent is equally threatening to children’s emotional security…children’s emotional insecurity mediated the link between aggression against the father and aggression against the mother and children’s reports of internalizing problems,” (El-Sheikh et al, 2008). In addition, “children exposed to both parental depressive affect and marital hostility seem to be at greater risk for problem behavior than are children exposed to only one or the other,” (Franck & Buehler, 2007). In the aforementioned study, parental warmth is another dynamic in child maladjustment and problem behavior. Parental warmth was
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final paper - Chrissy Castellano Psych 438 Final Paper...

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