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Summary: Separation by Parents Effect Son's & Daughter's Depression Differently

Both mothers and fathers make unique contributions to their children's well-being. Increased attention needs to be placed on these contributions and how parental separation effects these contributions on children.

  • A recent by the Journal of Marriage and Family was conducted in order to research the short-term effects of parental separation on adolescent delinquency and depression. The data for the 2002 study came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Within this study, two waves of interviews were conducted approximately a year apart. The first wave of interviews was conducted from September 1994 through December 1995, and the second wave of interviews was conducted between April and August of 1996. The results of this study indicate that both mothers and fathers make unique contributions to their children’s well-being. These findings are particularly important because, in this day and age, children are more likely than ever to spend time in single-parent homes, and current trends indicate that parents who do not live with their children tend to have infrequent contact with them. Furthermore, children, especially boys, are more likely to live with their fathers. According to this article, if opposite-sex parents constitute a critical influence on children’s mental well-being, then boys who reside in father-only homes may experience lowered mental health if their relationship with their mother deteriorates after the parental separation. For girls, the research in this study suggests that they may be just as troubled by family difficulties as boys but manifest their distress in different ways. Typically, girls are thought to respond to stress with internalized reactions, or problems of over-control. However, this study showed that the higher adolescent girls rated their relationship with their father, the less likely they were to experience depression after a parental separation. Finally, increased attention should be placed on the unique contributions that both mothers and fathers make to their children’s well-being and how parental separation affects these contributions.1

1The Effects of Parent-Adolescent Relationships and Parental Separation on Adolescent Well-Being, Journal of Marriage and Family, May 2002, Vol. 64, pp. 489-503.

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