Divorce, Parenting Behavior, Maternal Depression And Behavior Problems In Latency-Aged Boys

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology


The present research primarily examined the extent to which, and in what pattern the three family factors, family context (divorce/intact), parenting behaviors, and maternal depression, contributed to the variation in four types of behaviors, and maternal depression, contributed to the variation in four types of behavior problems in clinic-referred, latency-aged boys. A secondary aim of the present study was to investigate comparisons between divorced and intact families across these same variables.Thirty divorced and thirty intact families who sought outpatient psychological services at Children's Psychiatric Center, Miami, Florida for their male child between the ages of eight and fourteen served as subjects. Boys' behavior problems were determined with Quay and Peterson's Behavior Problem Checklist while maternal depression was assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory. Boys' perceptions of parenting behavior were measured by Schaefer's Children's Reports of Parental Behavior Inventory. Separate multiple regression analyses for each of the four child behavior problems under study were performed.Conduct problems, personality problems, inadequacy-immaturity, and total behavior problems in boys were each found to be significantly related to a combination of maternal depression, parenting behavior, and divorce. The resulting parental picture associated with these childhood disturbances was of a divorced mother with mild, agitated depression who was overly active in ineffective attempts at control of her son. Divorce emerged as the most significant predictor of personality problems while maternal depression was identified as the best predictor of conduct problems. In the divorced group, families had been divorced for a minimum of two years. Over this long-term boys of divorced families still had significantly greater behavior problems of all types compared with boys of intact families. Also, divorced mothers were found to be significantly more depressed than mothers in intact families. Thus, there appears to be a subgroup of divorced mothers and sons who experience psychological problems even 2 to 10 years after the divorce.


Psychology, Clinical

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