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Adolescent girls' experience of parental divorce 1989

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ADOLESCENT GIRLS' EXPERIENCE OF PARENTAL DIVORCE by BETTY A. RIDEOUT B.A., U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, 1986 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of C o u n s e l l i n g Psychology We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1990 © Be t t y A. Rideout, 1989 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of C o u n s e l l i n g Psychology The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date A p r i l 25, 1990 DE-6 (2/88) i i ABSTRACT T h i s study was designed to examine adolescent g i r l s e xperience of t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e . A review of the l i t e r a t u r e on t h i s s u b j e c t i n d i c a t e d t h a t l i t t l e r e s e a r c h had been conducted on the a d o l e s c e n t s ' experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . The l i t e r a t u r e a l s o i n d i c a t e d t h a t the p a i n f u l event of d i v o r c e can p r e c i p i t a t e a number of emotional, b e h a v i o u r a l , and c o g n i t i v e changes i n c h i l d r e n . T h i s study u t i l i z e d a phenomenological methodology. S p e c i f i c a l l y , the study sought to e x p l o r e the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e and i n t e r p r e t the r e s u l t s i n c o n j u n c t i o n with r e l e v a n t theory. E i g h t g i r l s from age s i x t e e n to nineteen p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the study. These g i r l s came from a home where a d i v o r c e had o c c u r r e d w i t h i n a nine year range, but had occurred at l e a s t one year s i n c e the time of the i n t e r v i e w s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s were i n t e r v i e w e d twice. The i n t e r v i e w s were analyzed using the data a n a l y s i s process d e s c r i b e d by G i o r g i (1975). T h i s a n a l y s i s r e v e a l e d twelve t o p i c areas which were d e s c r i p t i v e of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of d i v o r c e . These t o p i c s were then o r g a n i z e d around four main content areas, or p r o c e s s e s . These processes were the experience of the d i v o r c e , the process of adapting to environmental changes, the l e a r n i n g and growing process, and the process of r e s t r u c t u r i n g meaning and moving toward r e s o l u t i o n . i i i The r e s u l t s were i n t e r p r e t e d u t i l i z i n g the l i t e r a t u r e on c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes, a t t r i b u t i o n theory, and j u s t world theory. The prese n t study shared many s i m i l a r i t i e s with the l i t e r a t u r e on d i v o r c e , but d i f f e r e d i n the degree of d e p r e s s i o n and maladjustment seen among the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study, g e n e r a l l y , were seen to h i g h l y - f u n c t i o n i n g , h e a l t h y i n d i v i d u a l s . The study a l s o showed how the p a r t i c i p a n t s need f o r c o n t r o l i n t h e i r l i v e s was r e l a t e d to the t h e o r i e s posed by a t t r i b u t i o n theory and j u s t world theory. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v i CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION 1 T h e o r e t i c a l Background 4 Purpose of the Study 10 CHAPTER TWO - REVIEW OF LITERATURE 13 The Process and Experience of Divorce 13 The Age of the C h i l d 15 The Adolescent Experience ....19 Summary 24 CHAPTER THREE - METHODOLOGY 26 Procedure 26 C r i t e r i a f o r S e l e c t i o n 26 S e l e c t i o n Procedure 30 Data C o l l e c t i o n 31 Data A n a l y s i s 33 Rigour i n a Q u a l i t a t i v e Methodology 35 Assumptions 40 E t h i c a l Concerns 41 Summary 42 CHAPTER FOUR - THE PARTICIPANTS' EXPERIENCE 43 I n t r o d u c t i o n 43 The Immediate Experience of the Divorce 47 The Process of Adapting to Environmental Change 58 V The Learning and Growing Process 67 The Process of R e s t r u c t u r i n g Meaning and Moving Toward R e s o l u t i o n 78 Summary 88 CHAPTER FIVE - COMPARISON OF PRESENT STUDY WITH RESEARCH .89 I n t r o d u c t i o n 89 The Immediate Experience of Divorce 94 The Process of Adapting to Environmental Change ....100 The Learning and Growing Process 109 The Process of R e s t r u c t u r i n g Meaning and Moving Toward R e s o l u t i o n 118 Summary of F i n d i n g s 126 L i m i t a t i o n s of the Study and Suggestions f o r Fu r t h e r Research 128 Summary 129 REFERENCES 131 Appendix A - L e t t e r of Information 136 Appendix B - P a r t i c i p a n t ' s Information and Consent Form ..137 Appendix C - Interview Guide - F i r s t I nterview 138 Appendix D - Interview Guide - Second Interview 139 vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would l i k e to thank the p a r t i c i p a n t s of t h i s study f o r t h e i r time and w i l l i n g n e s s t o share t h e i r experiences, my husband f o r h i s unceasing support and p a t i e n c e , and my parents f o r t h e i r t i r e l e s s a b i l i t y t o hear my complaints. 1 CHAPTER ONE I n t r o d u c t i o n Divorce has become an i n c r e a s i n g l y p e r v a s i v e phenomenon i n i n d u s t r i a l i z e d s o c i e t i e s d u r i n g the l a t t e r h a l f of t h i s c e n t u r y . Since the reform of d i v o r c e laws i n Canada on J u l y 11, 1968, d i v o r c e r a t e s have been i n c r e a s i n g s t e a d i l y (Ambert, 1980) . In Canada there were 70,436 d i v o r c e s granted i n 1982. Of these, approximately 53% i n v o l v e d f a m i l i e s with dependent c h i l d r e n (Parry, 1986). B r i t i s h Columbia appears to have the h i g h e s t d i v o r c e r a t e i n the country. The l a r g e i n c i d e n c e of d i v o r c e found i n B r i t i s h Columbia may be e x p l a i n e d i n p a r t by Ambert's (1980) r e s e a r c h . This study suggests t h a t the h i g h e s t d i v o r c e r a t e s are found i n p r o v i n c e s with h i g h per c a p i t a income, h i g h immigration r a t e s , and a h i g h l e v e l of economic development and u r b a n i z a t i o n . The i n c r e a s e i n d i v o r c e r a t e s has caused a dramatic change to the t r a d i t i o n a l f a m i l y s t r u c t u r e . T h i s change c r e a t e s a need to understand the impact and consequences of d i v o r c e upon the l i v e s of those a f f e c t e d . C o n s i d e r a b l e r e s e a r c h has been conducted upon the e f f e c t s of d i v o r c e upon a d u l t s ( K e l l y , 1981) , and to a l e s s e r degree r e s e a r c h has examined c h i l d r e n ' s r e a c t i o n to d i v o r c e (Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1985). However, very l i t t l e r e s e a r c h has focused upon a d o l e s c e n t s ' r e a c t i o n to p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . My c l i n i c a l work with adolescent g i r l s from d i v o r c e d homes 2 suggests t h a t there e x i s t s a p r e s s i n g need to understand the e f f e c t t h a t d i v o r c e can have. Research by Hetherington, Cox, and Cox (1985) supports my o b s e r v a t i o n s of the e f f e c t of d i v o r c e upon youngsters. These authors noted t h a t , "In the f i r s t few years f o l l o w i n g d i v o r c e , c h i l d r e n i n d i v o r c e d f a m i l i e s i n comparison to c h i l d r e n i n nondivorced f a m i l i e s show more a n t i - s o c i a l , i m p u l s i v e a c t i n g out d i s o r d e r s , more a g g r e s s i o n and noncompliance, more dependency, a n x i e t y , and d e p r e s s i o n , more d i f f i c u l t i e s i n s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and more problem behavior i n s c h o o l " (p. 518). W a l l e r s t e i n (1985) r e p o r t s t h a t r e s u l t s from a l o n g i t u d i n a l study on c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d f a m i l i e s suggest t h a t "a s i g n i f i c a n t number of c h i l d r e n and a d o l e s c e n t s were c o n s i d e r e d p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y t r o u b l e d at the 5-year mark. We had diagnosed moderate to severe c l i n i c a l d e p r e s s i o n i n over a t h i r d of the o r i g i n a l sample" (p. 547). A d i v o r c e i s a d i f f i c u l t and t r a u m a t i c adjustment f o r most a d u l t s to make. C h i l d r e n can experience d i v o r c e as even more t r a u m a t i c . For some a d u l t s the trauma of the d i v o r c e may be l e s s e n e d by t h e i r knowledge that they were i n v o l v e d , to some extent, i n the d e c i s i o n to end t h e i r marriage. For c h i l d r e n however the s e p a r a t i o n of t h e i r parents i s g e n e r a l l y experienced as a p o w e r f u l l y d i s r u p t i v e , p a i n f u l , and f r i g h t e n i n g event, and i s without the cushion of p e r s o n a l c h o i c e . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) note that most c h i l d r e n found t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e extremely p a i n f u l , and i n most cases would have p r e f e r r e d t h e i r parents to remain together, 3 r e g a r d l e s s of how d y s f u n c t i o n a l the marriage was. In the i n s t a n c e s where the primary c a r e g i v e r , g e n e r a l l y the mother, d i d not i n i t i a t e or want to d i v o r c e , the remaining f a m i l y may experience f e e l i n g s of h e l p l e s n e s s and abandonment (Schwartzberg, 1981). The component of h e l p l e s s n e s s t h a t i s present i n c h i l d r e n ' s r e a c t i o n to t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e i s , I b e l i e v e , a powerful f a c t o r i n t h e i r a b i l i t y to weather the p a i n of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e and r e g a i n t h e i r sense of p e r s o n a l c o n t r o l . When the primary c a r e g i v e r i s a l s o b a t t l i n g a sense of h e l p l e s s n e s s , amidst a l l the other d i f f i c u l t i e s which d i v o r c e can c r e a t e , he/she may u n w i t t i n g l y perpetuate t h i s sense i n h i s or her c h i l d r e n . In summary, l i t e r a t u r e on the event of d i v o r c e suggests t h a t d i v o r c e i s a p a i n f u l event which can p r e c i p i t a t e a number of n e g a t i v e impediments i n c h i l d r e n ' s c o g n i t v e , emotional and s o c i a l development. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1985) b e l i e v e t h a t the r e s u l t s of d i v o r c e can continue to a f f e c t these c h i l d r e n f o r many y e a r s . Given the p e r v a s i v e e f f e c t of d i v o r c e upon c h i l d r e n , i t seems important to be able to i d e n t i f y the nature of the t h r e a t . In p a r t i c u l a r , an understanding of how c h i l d r e n experience t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e , how they i n t e r p r e t and e x p l a i n i t , and how they b e l i e v e i t e f f e c t s them, may h e l p to shed some l i g h t on t h e i r behaviour. 4 T h e o r e t i c a l Background Humankind has devoted a great d e a l of emotional and i n t e l l e c t u a l energy toward c r e a t i n g the b e l i e f t h a t i t has w i t h i n i t s power the a b i l i t y to c o n t r o l the random, negative events of l i f e . Since the i n c e p t i o n of recorded h i s t o r y , humankind has s t r u g g l e d to. e x p l a i n or r a t i o n a l i z e l i f e ' s traumas. Through t h i s s t r u g g l e , I b e l i e v e , i n d i v i d u a l s have attempted to make t h e i r l i v e s l e s s random by s u b s c r i b i n g to a ph i l o s o p h y or r e l i g i o n which seeks t o g i v e l i f e meaning, and through meaning, c o n t r o l . Homer, one of humankind's e a r l i e s t r ecorded s t o r y t e l l e r s , w r i t e s of the s e r i e s of misfortunes which b e f a l l Odysseus because Poseidon bears him a grudge. Homer suggests t h a t c o n t r o l was w i t h i n Odysseus' reach, i f only he c o u l d appease the gods. My word, how mortals take the gods t o task! A l l t h e i r a f f l i c t i o n s come from us, we hear. (Homer, 1963, p. 2) The Greeks developed a s o p h i s t i c a t e d pantheon of gods, to whom they a s c r i b e d r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r events i n t h e i r l i v e s . To r e g a i n c o n t r o l , one had to work to p l a c e o n e s e l f i n the gods' good favour. The system was an ele g a n t and ast u t e one as i t e x p l a i n e d f u l l y how l i f e c o uld c o n t a i n unexpected and a r b i t r a r y events. I t could a l s o s e t i n d i v i d u a l s ' minds at ease by p r o v i d i n g them with some sense of c o n t r o l over t h e i r l i v e s . P h i l o s o p h i c a l systems such as the one developed by the Greeks have continued t o seek to e x p l a i n l i f e ' s a r b i t r a r y 5 nature, and suggest how i t may be brought under c o n t r o l . Rubin and Peplau (1975) suggest t h a t r e l i g i o n s such as Judaism and C h r i s t i a n i t y promote the b e l i e f t h a t c o n t r o l over one's world may be a t t a i n e d through s a l v a t i o n and by adhering to the works of the B i b l e . I t would be naive to suggest t h a t a complex p h i l o s o p h i c a l system such as the C h r i s t i a n r e l i g i o n may be e x p l a i n e d s o l e l y by a search f o r p e r s o n a l power, but aspects of r e l i g i o u s systems c o u l d arguably be means of o r d e r i n g one's p r e s e n t l i f e f o r something s u p e r i o r l a t e r on. Other dogmas, such as the "power of p o s i t i v e t h i n k i n g " or strong work e t h i c s , a l s o o f f e r hope of c o n t r o l over one's l i f e . In f a c t , i t seems t h a t many people have d i s t o r t e d the o r i g i n a l meaning of the P r o t e s t a n t work e t h i c , i n order to g i v e themselves a sense of c o n t r o l . John C a l v i n argued t h a t good work was not s u f f i c i e n t t o g a i n s a l v a t i o n , but t h a t work i s good by nature and should be i t s own reward (Smart, 1976). Much of contemporary c u l t u r e has skewed t h i s b e l i e f from - the reward to work i s work i t s e l f , t o the reward of work i s a good l i f e . Of course, not everyone attempts to frame t h e i r view of r e a l i t y around the need to f e e l i n c o n t r o l over events i n t h e i r l i v e s . Camus, i n The Myth of Sysyphus, argues t h a t by acknowledging t h a t " f a t e [ i s ] a human matter, which must be s e t t l e d among men" (1955, p. 91) we a s s i g n c o n t r o l t o o u r s e l v e s . Consequently l i f e ' s u n j u s t nature becomes more a c c e p t a b l e . Camus concludes t h a t "Despite so many o r d e a l s , my advanced age and the n o b i l i t y of my s o u l makes me conclude t h a t a l l i s w e l l " (p. 90). Job, i n the B i b l e , argues t h a t the world 6 i s not a j u s t , p r e d i c t a b l e p l a c e . A neighbour of Job d i s p u t e s t h i s argument by s t a t i n g "Behold . . . God w i l l not c a s t away an innocent man, n e i t h e r w i l l he uphold e v i l d o e r s " (Rubin & Peplau, 1975, p. 65). Job counters t h i s argument by s t a t i n g t h a t "though I be innocent, He s h a l l prove me p e r v e r s e " (p. 65). S e v e r a l p s y c h o l o g i c a l t h e o r i e s attempt to understand and e x p l a i n i n d i v i d u a l s ' need to be able to p r e d i c t and c o n t r o l t h e i r world. One such theory, the j u s t world h y p o t h e s i s , i s d e f i n e d by Lerner and M i l l e r (1978) a s : I n d i v i d u a l s have a need to b e l i e v e t h a t they l i v e i n a world where people g e n e r a l l y get what they deserve. The b e l i e f t h a t the world i s j u s t enables the i n d i v i d u a l t o c o n f r o n t h i s p h y s i c a l and s o c i a l environment as though they were s t a b l e and o r d e r l y , (p. 1030) When traumatic events happen to i n d i v i d u a l s , the l o s s of these i n d i v i d u a l s ' f a i t h i n t h e i r world as a p r e d i c t a b l e and f a i r p l a c e can be so s h a t t e r i n g they encounter "a vast breakdown of f a i t h i n the l a r g e r human matrix s u p p o r t i n g each i n d i v i d u a l ' s l i f e , and t h e r e f o r e a l o s s of f a i t h or ' t r u s t i n the s t r u c t u r e of e x i s t e n c e ' " ( L i f t o n , i n Lerner & M i l l e r , p. 1031). C h i l d r e n are e s p e c i a l l y v u l n e r a b l e to u t i l i z i n g the j u s t world h y p o t h e s i s as we o f t e n teach our c h i l d r e n t h a t the world i s a j u s t and f a i r p l a c e . T e l e v i s i o n , myths and f a i r y t a l e s emphasize the l e s s o n t h a t good t h i n g s a r i s e from good behaviour and bad t h i n g s from bad behaviour. Rubin and Peplau (1975) argue t h a t parents o f t e n shape t h e i r c h i l d r e n ' s b e l i e f system as such i n order to promote a c c e p t a b l e behaviour. The authors suggest t h a t "these teachings may f o s t e r accurate p e r c e p t i o n s of c a u s a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s : Hard work at s c h o o l may w e l l be rewarded 7 by a good r e p o r t c a r d . But i n other i n s t a n c e s the p r e s c r i p t i o n s may d i s t o r t r e a l i t y " (p. 73). Lerner (1974, i n Rubin & Peplau, 1975), d e s c r i b e s a developmental a n a l y s i s of how c h i l d r e n a c q u i r e a j u s t world understanding of the world. Lerner suggests t h a t c h i l d r e n i n i t i a l l y begin with a b e l i e f i n the "pleasure p r i n c i p l e " , and then through encouragement v i a t h e i r environment move onto a " r e a l i t y p r i n c i p l e " , which i s the a c t of d e l a y i n g p r e s e n t g r a t i f i c a t i o n i n order t o achieve more, through g r e a t e r and prolonged e f f o r t , l a t e r . T h i s t r a n s i t i o n r e q u i r e s t h a t the c h i l d make a p e r s o n a l c o n t r a c t with him or h e r s e l f t o de l a y g r a t i f i c a t i o n . In order to b e l i e v e i n t h i s c o n t r a c t , the c h i l d must b e l i e v e t h a t s e l f - d e n i a l and i n c r e a s e d e f f o r t s w i l l l e a d t o something worth w a i t i n g f o r . The c h i l d needs t o b e l i e v e t h a t h i s or her world i s such a p l a c e where h i s or her p e r s o n a l c o n t r a c t can be completed. L o g i c a l l y , s/he must b e l i e v e t h a t i n order t o achieve what I deserve, o t h e r s must a l s o get what they deserve. " A f t e r a l l , the i n d i v i d u a l may reason, i f other people do not get what they deserve, then I may not e i t h e r - and t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y i s l i k e l y t o be h i g h l y t h r e a t e n i n g " (p. 74). A t t r i b u t i o n theory suggests t h a t people attempt t o understand and e x p l a i n the causes of behaviour and events (Wortman & D i n t z e r , 1978; Young & Marks, 1986). T h i s theory argues t h a t i n d i v i d u a l s attempt to understand whether outcomes i n t h e i r l i v e s are co n t i n g e n t upon t h e i r b ehaviours. A b r i e f summary of a t t r i b u t i o n theory r e s e a r c h suggests t h a t when i n d i v i d u a l s f e e l they can e x e r t c o n t r o l over events i n t h e i r 8 l i v e s they respond p o s i t i v e l y , and when they f e e l they have l i m i t e d c o n t r o l over events i n t h e i r l i v e s they may experience f e e l i n g s of h e l p l e s s n e s s and or d e p r e s s i o n (Abramson, Seligman & Teasdale, 1978). In p s y c h o l o g i c a l l i t e r a t u r e , a t t r i b u t i o n theory i s commonly accepted as one way to d e s c r i b e the i n t e r n a l d i a l o g u e i n d i v i d u a l s u t i l i z e i n order to e x p l a i n and p r e d i c t t h e i r world (Hammen, 1987). A t t r i b u t i o n s are a l s o l i n k e d t o one's e x p e c t a t i o n s of a j u s t world. Rubin and Peplau (1975) argue t h a t "a str o n g b e l i e f i n a j u s t world may be l i n k e d t o a sense of p e r s o n a l or i n t e r n a l c o n t r o l over one's outcomes" (p. 74). Previous f i n d i n g s (Rubin & Peplau, 1975) show th a t the e x p e c t a t i o n t h a t one's rewards or punishments are c o n t i n g e n t upon one's own behaviour i s c o r r e l a t e d with measures on a j u s t world s c a l e . The argument t h a t people need to f e e l i n c o n t r o l of t h e i r world and attempt t o f i n d c o n t r o l through a s u b s c r i p t i o n t o some p h i l o s o p h i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e i s a well-documented one. Also, i t can be argued t h a t i n d i v i d u a l s u t i l i z e an i n t e r n a l d i a l o g u e i n order t o understand and p r e d i c t t h e i r world. T h i s d i a l o g u e , or a t t r i b u t i o n a l p r o c e s s , i s a p s y c h o l o g i c a l framework which people may u t i l i z e i n order to f e e l i n c o n t r o l of t h e i r world. Research has a l s o i n d i c a t e d t hat i f i n d i v i d u a l s ' p e r s o n a l p h i l o s o p h y i s c h a l l e n g e d by a c o n t r a d i c t o r y event, the c h a l l e n g e i s experienced as a h i g h l y t h r e a t e n i n g one. C h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes experience a p o w e r f u l l y d i s r u p t i v e and ne g a t i v e event, and one which may cause c h i l d r e n to q u e s t i o n t h e i r e x i s t i n g b e l i e f i n t h e i r world as a 9 p r e d i c t a b l e and g e n e r a l l y f a i r p l a c e . As w e l l , because c h i l d r e n have l i m i t e d c o n t r o l over t h e i r parents' d e c i s i o n to d i v o r c e , the event of d i v o r c e may c r e a t e a sense of h e l p l e s s n e s s i n the c h i l d r e n . These f e e l i n g s of h e l p l e s s n e s s and d e p r e s s i o n seem to be a common experience among c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes ( W a l l e r s t e i n 1985). As the l i t e r a t u r e suggests t h a t these f e e l i n g s can be d e s t r u c t i v e ones (Nolen-Hoeksema, Girgus, & Seligman, 1986), understanding more about how c h i l d r e n experience and i n t e r p r e t t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e c o u l d be h e l p f u l i n a l l e v i a t i n g some of the problems encountered by the growing number of c h i l d r e n who come from d i v o r c e d homes. 10 Purpose of the Study Research suggests t h a t d i v o r c e can be the p r e c i p i t a t i n g f a c t o r behind many problems e x h i b i t e d by c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes (Forehand, Middleton & Long, 1987). Research a l s o suggests that how c h i l d r e n understand and e x p l a i n events i n t h e i r l i v e s i s l i n k e d to t h e i r r e s u l t i n g behaviour (Brown & S i e g e l , 1988). How c h i l d r e n experience and give meaning to t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e would then seem to be an important t o p i c f o r study. C h i l d r e n have l i t t l e c o n t r o l over the changes that d i v o r c e causes i n t h e i r l i v e s . E x p e r i e n c i n g a l o s s of c o n t r o l can be a t h r e a t e n i n g event which r e s e a r c h suggests can le a d to a sense of h e l p l e s s n e s s , or a d i s t o r t i o n o f the degree of c o n t r o l they a c t u a l l y e x e r t . For example, Hetherington (1979) notes t h a t young c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes o f t e n are l i k e l y to blame themselves when they i n t e r p r e t the cause of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . Research by Janoff-Bulman (1979) suggests t h a t t h i s type of s e l f - b l a m e i s u t i l i z e d by i n d i v i d u a l s to ward o f f the more t e r r i f y i n g f e e l i n g t h a t they have l i t t l e c o n t r o l over t h e i r world. Ac c o r d i n g to Santrock (1987), and the present author's review o f the l i t e r a t u r e , l i t t l e r e s e a r c h has been conducted on the a d o l e s c e n t ' s experience of d i v o r c e . Research t h a t has been conducted suggests t h a t a d o l e s c e n t s experience some common r e a c t i o n s t o t h e i r parents d i v o r c e such as d e p r e s s i o n , a c t i n g out behaviours, a n x i e t y over t h e i r f u t u r e and emotional and s o c i a l r e g r e s s i o n ( W a l l e r s t e i n , 1985). Adolescence i s 11 t y p i c a l l y a s t r e s s f u l p e r i o d f o r many teenagers, and the added burden of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e , a c c o r d i n g to W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1974, i n Anthony, 1974) may c a r r y the " p o t e n t i a l f o r s e v e r e l y overburdening the a d o l e s c e n t ego i n i t s m a t u r a t i o n a l , time-appointed t a s k s " (p. 483). Consequently, e x p l o r i n g teenagers' experience of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e seems to be an important s u b j e c t to understand more f u l l y . The present study has chosen to l i m i t the r e s e a r c h p o p u l a t i o n to a d o l e s c e n t g i r l s from d i v o r c e d or separated homes who are not a c t i v e l y engaged i n p s y c h i a t r i c or p s y c h o l o g i c a l treatment. The d e c i s i o n to l i m i t the p o p u l a t i o n i n t h i s way was based f i r s t upon s o c i a l i z a t i o n l i t e r a t u r e which suggests t h a t male and female gender-role development o f t e n leads to d i f f e r e n t types of s o c i a l l y - a c c e p t a b l e behaviours f o r s i m i l a r events (Rice, 1981). Secondly, as the study hopes to examine the experience of d i v o r c e , i t was thought t h a t a time i n t e r v a l between the i n t i a l s e p a r a t i o n and the a d o l e s c e n t s ' involvement i n the present study would be a p p r o p r i a t e . This time i n t e r v a l w i l l h e l p to focus the study upon the c h i l d ' s experience of the d i v o r c e r a t h e r than upon the i n i t i a l c r i s i s stage. Most people need time i n order to make sense of the events i n t h e i r l i v e s . Once t h i s time i n t e r v a l has occurred, i t seemed somewhat i r r e l e v a n t as to whether the a c t u a l d i v o r c e had o c c u r r e d . A l s o , o f t e n when c h i l d r e n are i n v o l v e d , the d i v o r c e proceedings can be delayed by custody d i s p u t e s . T h e r e f o r e i t was decided t h a t t h i s study would i n c l u d e c h i l d r e n from homes where e i t h e r a d i v o r c e or s e p a r a t i o n had o c c u r r e d . L a s t , i t was thought 12 t h a t l i m i t i n g the p o p u l a t i o n to a n o n - c l i n i c a l one would h e l p reduce other v a r i a b l e s t h a t may be a f f e c t i n g a c h i l d ' s understanding of her p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e , such as the e f f e c t s of drug therapy or somatic i l l n e s s . Given t h a t the event of d i v o r c e i s a complex l i f e event, an examination of a c h i l d ' s experience of the d i v o r c e would seem to demand a broad i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the event. Phenomenology i s the " d i s c i p l i n e t h a t devotes i t s e l f to the study of how t h i n g s appear to consciousness or are g i v e n i n experience" ( G i o r g i , deKoning, & Ashworth, 1986, p. 6 ) . A phenomenological methodology then would seem to be w e l l - s u i t e d to the study of the experience of d i v o r c e . In summary, the purposes of the p r e s e n t study are as f o l l o w s : 1. To d e s c r i b e how a d o l e s c e n t g i r l s view t h e i r experience of t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e . Part of t h i s experience may i n c l u d e how the g i r l s i n t e r p r e t e d and understood the d i v o r c e . 2. To analyze the shared experiences of the a d o l e s c e n t g i r l s i n order to i d e n t i f y common themes and or i s s u e s . 13 CHAPTER TWO REVIEW OF LITERATURE Need f o r Study L i t t l e r e s e a r c h has focused upon the e f f e c t d i v o r c e has upon c h i l d r e n . W a l l e r s t e i n (1985) comments " i t i s s t r i k i n g t h a t the a p t l y d e s c r i b e d C h i l d r e n of Armageddon (Watson, 1969) who are caught up i n the i n t e n s e b a t t l e of t h e i r parents have been the s u b j e c t of so much p u b l i c concern yet have been so l i t t l e s t u d i e d and so p o o r l y served" (p. 516). There appears t o be an even g r e a t e r p a u c i t y of r e s e a r c h conducted upon the a d o l e s c e n t ' s experience of d i v o r c e . Santrock (1987) observes t h a t t h e r e are s t i l l few e m p i r i c a l s t u d i e s on the e f f e c t s of d i v o r c e on a d o l e s c e n t s . As w e l l , f e m i n i s t l i t e r a t u r e suggests t h a t g i r l s may experience r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and i n t h i s case the breakdown of r e l a t i o n s h i p s , d i f f e r e n t l y from boys. G i l l i g a n (1982) suggests t h a t a d o l e s c e n t g i r l s ' i d e n t i t i e s are "inwardly and i n t e r p e r s o n a l l y d e f i n e d " , which suggests t h a t they may f e e l more v u l n e r a b l e and r e s p o n s i b l e when faced with p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e (p. 13). The Process and Experience of Divorce For The experience of c h i l d r e n , Anthony d i v o r c e i s unique to each i n d i v i d u a l . (1974) d e s c r i b e s the r e a c t i o n s as being 14 dependent upon age, stage of development, gender, q u a l i t y of e a r l y environment, amount of s t r e s s p r e v i o u s l y experienced, the a b i l i t y of the parents to p r o v i d e s e c u r i t y , the extent of f a m i l y disharmony p r i o r to d i v o r c e , p e r s o n a l i t y , and parents' r e l a t i o n s h i p . The most c o n s i s t e n t o b s e r v a t i o n i s summarized by Hetherington (1979) who comments t h a t almost a l l c h i l d r e n f i n d the t r a n s i t i o n of d i v o r c e to be a very p a i n f u l one. Hetherington, Cox, and Cox (1985) note t h a t "a s u b s t a n t i a l body of both c l i n i c a l and r e s e a r c h l i t e r a t u r e has accumulated which shows t h a t most c h i l d r e n experience t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e as a s t r e s s f u l l i f e event and e x h i b i t short-term developmental d i s r u p t i o n s , emotional d i s t r e s s , and behavior d i s o r d e r s " (p. 518). G u i d u b a l d i and Perry (1985) b e l i e v e t h a t "the i n c r e a s e d i n c i d e n c e of d i v o r c e i l l u s t r a t e s t h a t i t i s the most p e r v a s i v e of the "severe" p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t r e s s o r s (DSM I I I ) f o r c h i l d r e n " (p. 531). Schwartzberg (1981) d e s c r i b e s the d i v o r c e process as one i n which the f a m i l y system i s a l t e r e d but not terminated. He sees the process of d i v o r c e as being d i v i s i b l e by three stages : a p r e d i v o r c e stage, a stage of s e p a r a t i o n , and the p o s t d i v o r c e stage. Attachment theory d e s c r i b e s d i v o r c e a l s o as a process extending over time which i n v o l v e s s p e c i f i c l o s s - r e l a t e d tasks to be worked through. Bowlby (1960) has d e s c r i b e d four phases as a r e a c t i o n to s e p a r a t i o n : d e n i a l , p r o t e s t , d e s p a i r , and detachment ( i n Schwartzberg, 1981). The r e a c t i o n s to the s e p a r a t i o n may be "temporary or prolonged and are dependent upon the c h i l d ' s and p a r e n t s ' ages, coping c a p a c i t y , support 15 systems, degree of s t r e s s experienced, and the extent to which p r e v i o u s l o s s e s have been mastered and worked through" (Schwartzberg, 1981, p. 125). Hetherington (1979) employs a c r i s i s model i n d e s c r i b i n g the process of d i v o r c e f o r the short-term. She notes t h a t c h i l d r e n must respond to immediate changes i n t h e i r s i t u a t i o n such as the l o s s of a parent, disharmony, f a m i l y u n o r g a n i z a t i o n and changes i n p a r e n t - c h i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p s t h a t may be caused by the u n c e r t a i n t y , d i s t r e s s and d i s c o r d of the d i v o r c e . Hetherington (1979) sees the p r e d i v o r c e and s e p a r a t i o n stages as being c h a r a c t e r i z e d by s t r e s s e s a s s o c i a t e d with c o n f l i c t , l o s s , change, and u n c e r t a i n t y . Ambert (1980) sums the d i v o r c e process up using Wiseman's 1975 c r i s i s model. Divorce can be t r e a t e d as "a normal process with s p e c i f i c tasks to be mastered, r e c o g n i z a b l e s t r e s s e s to be d e a l t with, and s a t i s f a c t i o n s and goals to be sought f o r " (p. 18). The Age of the C h i l d A c h i l d ' s age seems to be a p r e v a i l i n g f a c t o r when examining the experience of d i v o r c e from a c h i l d ' s p e r s p e c t i v e . Hetherington (1979) notes t h a t the a d a p t a t i o n of the c h i l d depends upon which p o i n t the c h i l d has reached developmentally. W a l l e r s t e i n (1985) a s s e r t s t h a t there i s a " c r i t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e of the c h i l d ' s age and developmental stage i n governing the c h i l d ' s i n i t i a l response i n white, m i d d l e - c l a s s p o p u l a t i o n s " (p. 515). The very young c h i l d r e l i e s g r e a t l y 16 upon h i s or her parents and i s r e s t r i c t e d more to the home. Consequently, the young c h i l d ' s coping s t r a t e g i e s and responses w i l l d i f f e r from the a d o l e s c e n t ' s , who enjoys g r e a t e r independence, and g r e a t e r s o c i a l and c o g n i t i v e competencies. Hetherington emphasizes t h a t the experience of d i v o r c e between c h i l d r e n of d i f f e r i n g ages v a r i e s q u a l i t a t i v e l y i n responses, but t h a t the trauma and p a i n f u l experience of l o s s i s r e l a t i v e l y s t a b l e a c r o s s ages. A key d i f f e r e n c e f o r young c h i l d r e n i s t h e i r l a c k of a b i l i t y t o a c c u r a t e l y e v a l u a t e and understand the r i f t between t h e i r p a r e n t s . Hetherington (1979) notes t h a t "thus, the young c h i l d i s l i k e l y t o be more s e l f - b l a m i n g i n i n t e r p r e t i n g the cause of d i v o r c e , and to d i s t o r t g r o s s l y p e r c e p t i o n s of the p a r e n t s ' emotions, needs, and b e h a v i o r , as w e l l as the p r o s p e c t s of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n or t o t a l abandonment" (p. 853). The a d o l e s c e n t , a f t e r the i n i t i a l trauma i s over, i s b e t t e r equipped to d e a l with c o n f l i c t s over l o y a l t i e s , changes i n economic s t a t u s , f e a r of abandonment, and more a c c u r a t e l y understand and a s s i g n r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the cause of the d i v o r c e (Hetherington, 1979; W a l l e r s t e i n & K e l l y , 1974) . Anthony (1974) a s s e r t s t h a t the i s s u e of l o s s i s c e n t r a l to a c h i l d ' s developmental stage. "In the younger c h i l d one i s d e a l i n g with the problem of how to s u b s t i t u t e f o r l o s s , and i n the o l d e r c h i l d how to g r i e v e adequately f o r the l o s s " (p. 475). W a l l e r s t e i n (1985) notes s e v e r a l u n i v e r s a l responses among c h i l d r e n across age groups. I n i t i a l l y t here i s a wish to undo the d i v o r c e . W a l l e r s t e i n a l s o comments t h a t both c h i l d r e n and 17 a d o l e s c e n t s s u f f e r from "anxiety, d e p r e s s i o n , worry over one or both p a r e n t s , r i s i n g anger at p a r e n t s , l o y a l t y c o n f l i c t s , and g u i l t " (p. 546). While these responses are c o n s i s t e n t across ages, the emotions and p e r c e p t i o n s u n d e r l y i n g them w i l l be governed by the c h i l d ' s developmental stage. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y ' s 1980 e x t e n s i v e study on d i v o r c e d e l v e s deeply i n t o the c h i l d ' s experience of d i v o r c e and d i f f e r e n c e s i n developmental stages. From t h i s study the authors comment t h a t c h i l d r e n and a d o l e s c e n t s a l s o u n i v e r s a l l y tend to experience a sense of f e a r which a r i s e s from a heightened sense of t h e i r v u l n e r a b i l i t y and from t h e i r l o s s of a sense of s e c u r i t y and c o n t i n u i t y . "They confronted a world which suddenly appeared to have become l e s s r e l i a b l e , l e s s p r e d i c t a b l e , and l e s s l i k e l y i n t h e i r view to p r o v i d e f o r t h e i r needs and e x p e c t a t i o n s " (p. 45). T h i s shared experience between the d i f f e r e n t age groups r a i s e s the q u e s t i o n of how d i f f e r e n t l y d i v o r c e does impact upon o l d e r versus young c h i l d r e n . One other i n t e r e s t i n g q u e s t i o n i s whether these themes p e r s i s t throughout c h i l d h o o d . For i n s t a n c e , i f a c h i l d i n t e r p r e t e d h i s or her world as u n p r e d i c t a b l e and u n r e l i a b l e as a r e s u l t of h i s or her parents' d i v o r c e , may t h i s c o g n i t i v e a p p r a i s a l continue through to adolescence? Other common themes the authors noted were a sense of r e j e c t i o n from the departed parent p a r t i c u l a r l y because parents can become preocc u p i e d with concerns such as l o n e l i n e s s , c o n f l i c t e d l o y a l t i e s , anger, and worry over t h e i r sense of v u l n e r a b i l i t y and impending economic and domestic changes. 18 In S u r v i v i n g the Breakup (1980), W a l l e r s t e i n and Kelly- d e s c r i b e t h e i r s y s t e m a t i c i n v e s t i g a t i o n of c h i l d r e n ' s experience of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e , u t i l i z i n g a ten year l o n g i t u d i n a l r e s e a r c h d e s i g n . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y ' s study, l i k e the present study, was i n t e r e s t e d i n e x p l o r i n g c h i l d r e n ' s experience of d i v o r c e i n a n o n c l i n i c a l p o p u l a t i o n . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y s t u d i e d 131 c h i l d r e n and ado l e s c e n t s using i n t e r v i e w s , p s y c h o l o g i c a l and s o c i a l assessments. The study i n i t i a l l y i n t e r v i e w e d the c h i l d r e n and f a m i l y members soon a f t e r the m a r i t a l s e p a r a t i o n , and were re-examined again at 18 months, 5 years, and 10 y e a r s . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y are unique among authors of d i v o r c e l i t e r a t u r e i n t h a t they found t h a t the responses and experiences of c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes tended t o f a l l i n t o c o n s i s t e n t age and developmental groups. Other authors have ex p l o r e d the e f f e c t of d i v o r c e upon c h i l d r e n using a l o n g i t u d i n a l design a l s o (Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1985; Gu i d u b a l d i & Perry, 1985), and have noted some f a i r l y c o n s i s t e n t responses among the c h i l d r e n . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y ' s study i s p a r t i c u l a r l y u s e f u l though as i t examines the experience p e c u l i a r to the ad o l e s c e n t . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y began t h e i r ten year l o n g i t u d i n a l study i n 1971 i n C a l i f o r n i a u s i n g a n o n c l i n i c a l p o p u l a t i o n of s i x t y f a m i l i e s . 19 The Adolescent Experience A c e n t r a l theme i n the ado l e s c e n t experience seems to be the a d o l e s c e n t ' s c o n f u s i o n over the r e v e r s a l of the l e a v e - t a k i n g p r o c e s s . Where normally the teenager would be p r e p a r i n g f o r eventual independence, d i v o r c e c r e a t e s circumstances where one or more parent undergoes a s i m i l a r p r o c e s s . Adolescence t y p i c a l l y i s a p e r i o d where the c h i l d t e s t s h i m / h e r s e l f a g a i n s t h i s or her impending independence. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) d e s c r i b e t h i s process as a type of pendulum, where the c h i l d ventures toward p s y c h o l o g i c a l and p h y s i c a l disengagement from h i s or her f a m i l y , r i s k s more mature and independent behaviours, and then r e v e r t s back to more c h i l d i s h behaviour, r e t u r n i n g and using the home as a safe and s t a b l e base. A f t e r d i v o r c e , the c h i l d ' s home i s d i s r u p t e d , changed and o f t e n u n p r e d i c t a b l e . In many f a m i l i e s , the parents' needs now become the focus of a t t e n t i o n as the a d u l t s change r o l e s and beg i n t o q u e s t i o n t h e i r own e x i s t i n g s e x u a l , s o c i a l , v o c a t i o n a l and p e r s o n a l i d e n t i t i e s . Consequently, parents make changes to t h e i r l i f e s t y l e s t h a t sometimes p a r a l l e l those t h e i r c h i l d r e n are making, such as an i n c r e a s e d focus on i n s t i g a t i n g new sexual l i a i s o n s . The r e s u l t s of these changes, a c c o r d i n g to W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y , p a r t i c u l a r l y the a d u l t s ' changes i n sexual p a r t n e r s , can make t h e i r c h i l d r e n f e e l as i f they are i n c o m p e t i t i o n with t h e i r p a r e n t s . T h i s c o m p e t i t i o n was e s p e c i a l l y p a i n f u l f o r the c h i l d r e n as they had a l l , at some 20 c o n s c i o u s or unconscious l e v e l , counted on t h e i r parents to p r o v i d e them with a secure, dependable home that was a sa f e haven f o r them d u r i n g the r i s k y years of adolescence. As one t h i r t e e n year o l d youngster commented, "I f e l t I was being thrown out i n t o the world before I was r e a d y l " (p. 83). They a l s o had counted on t h e i r parents to r e p r e s e n t t r a d i t i o n a l v a l u e s, to maintain s i m i l a r i d e n t i t i e s t o those they had grown up with, and t y p i c a l l y were f a r more comfortable see i n g t h e i r parents as nonsexual, stodgy, p r e d i c t a b l e people. The t u r m o i l and c r i s i s i n the a d u l t s though pushed them to new behaviours and l i f e s t y l e s t h a t o f t e n reduced the g e n e r a t i o n gap between themselves and t h e i r c h i l d r e n , and t h i s r e d u c t i o n the c h i l d r e n o f t e n found tremendously t h r e a t e n i n g . The youngsters a l s o r e p o r t e d f e e l i n g threatened and d i s t r e s s e d by the y o u t h f u l l o v e r s some parents chose. As W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) note, some new l o v e r s were p a i n f u l l y c l o s e i n age to the a d o l e s c e n t s i n the study, f u r t h e r adding t o the c h i l d r e n ' s conscious or unconscious sense t h a t they now were i n c o m p e t i t i o n with t h e i r p arents, and t h e i r parents' l o v e r s . The post d i v o r c e home, acc o r d i n g to W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980), i s o f t e n one t h a t c o n t a i n s t u r m o i l while members s h i f t t h e i r r o l e s . Parents must work through t h e i r own emotional problems and at the same time t r y to ma i n t a i n a sense of order and d i s c i p l i n e i n the home. Because the new f a m i l y s t r u c t u r e i s o f t e n a shaky one, d i s c i p l i n e may be l o o s e r and r o u t i n e s a l t e r e d . T h i s l o o s e n i n g of d i s c i p l i n e i n the home can be d e t r i m e n t a l t o teenagers who o f t e n do not yet command i n t e r n a l 21 c o n t r o l s necessary to order t h e i r l i v e s and monitor p o t e n t i a l l y harmful behaviour. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) comment: some of the youngsters lacked i n n e r c o n t r o l s , the c o n s o l i d a t e d c onscience and independent c a p a c i t y to make judgements t h a t they needed to maintain themselves without s t r o n g p a r e n t a l support and guidance. The d i v o r c e l e f t them f e e l i n g v u l n e r a b l e t o t h e i r own newly strengthened sexual and a g g r e s s i v e impulses, and surrounded by the temptations of the ado l e s c e n t world without the supports t h a t would h o l d them to a s t r a i g h t course, (p. 83) Part of the developmental process f o r teenagers t y p i c a l l y i n c l u d e s a new awareness of themselves as sexual c r e a t u r e s . In f a c t , r e l a t i o n s h i p s and s e x u a l i t y seems o f t e n to be an all-c o n s u m i n g p a r t of many teenagers' l i v e s today. T h i s process can be a c o n f u s i n g and i n t i m i d a t i n g one f o r some teenagers, and i s exacerbated by a new p e r c e p t i o n of t h e i r p a r ents as s e x u a l l y a c t i v e as w e l l . A c o n s i s t e n t theme among the teenagers was t h e i r f e a r t h a t t h e i r p a r e n ts' f a i l e d marriage foreshadowed t h e i r own f u t u r e success i n r e l a t i o n s h i p s and marriage. Sadly, t h i s sense of foreshadowment may c o n t a i n some element of t r u t h i n i t as many of the parents d i d not possess the r e c o n c i l i a t o r y s k i l l s necessary t o e f f e c t i v e l y r e s o l v e d i f f e r e n c e s , hence the r e s u l t o f some of t h e i r m a r i t a l problems. One youngster commented he had never witnessed an argument r e s o l v e d f a i r l y u n t i l he was once able t o watch a f r i e n d ' s parents r e s o l v e t h e i r d i f f e r e n c e s . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y noted other concerns among the c h i l d r e n , such as l o y a l t y c o n f l i c t s between t h e i r p a r e n t s , a profound sense o f l o s s , and an exposed and v u l n e r a b l e f e e l i n g which o f t e n caused i n c r e a s e d a n x i e t y . T h i s i n c r e a s e d a n x i e t y had a tendency t o magnify problems, such as the o r d i n a r y , 22 p r e d i c t a b l e concerns of adolescence, and the problems c r e a t e d by the d i v o r c e , such as f i n a n c i a l concerns, l o y a l t y c o n f l i c t s , moving homes and changed r o l e s . A ccording to W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y the d i v o r c e a l s o seemed to p r e c i p i t a t e emotional and i n t e l l e c t u a l growth among some of the teenagers. I t seemed t h a t some aspects of the d i v o r c e , such as t h e i r p a r e n ts' i n f i d e l i t y , caused the youngsters to q u e s t i o n t h e i r e x i s t i n g value systems. Many d e s p e r a t e l y wanted to a v o i d the mistakes t h a t t h e i r parents had made. Consequently, the c h i l d r e n worked hard at understanding the causes and r o l e s of t h e i r parents i n the d i v o r c e . T h i s meant t h a t c h i l d r e n ' s p e r c e p t i o n s of t h e i r parents could f l u c t u a t e g r e a t l y as they attempted to analyze t h e i r parents' r o l e s i n the d i v o r c e . I t was not uncommon f o r c h i l d r e n t o suddenly a l t e r t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n s of t h e i r p a r e n t s . One day a parent c o u l d be seen as a hero and the next a v i l l a i n . These changing p e r c e p t i o n s caused the c h i l d r e n t o search elsewhere f o r r o l e models, and many looked t o themselves t o r e d e f i n e t h e i r own moral code. Having witnessed t h e i r parents not abide by a moral code they had p r e v i o u s l y a s c r i b e d t o and taught to t h e i r c h i l d r e n , they o f t e n f e l t t h a t t h e i r own moral code had been s h a t t e r e d . Consequently, W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y found many of these youngsters s t r u g g l i n g to d e f i n e t h e i r own sense o f p e r s o n a l m o r a l i t y . " T h e i r purpose was s e r i o u s and mature as they sought to determine standards t o guide t h e i r own behavior i n the present and the f u t u r e " (p. 89). Of the ad o l e s c e n t s s t u d i e d , about o n e - t h i r d showed an i n c r e a s e d m a t u r i t y a f t e r 23 t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e . T h i s growth i n m a t u r i t y can probably be t r a c e d i n p a r t to the emotional and i n t e l l e c t u a l growth t h a t arose from c h a l l e n g i n g t h e i r unquestioned p a r e n t a l value system and d e f i n i n g t h e i r own. A l s o , the d i v o r c e c r e a t e d a need f o r these youngsters to assume a more r e s p o n s i b l e and s u p p o r t i v e r o l e i n the f a m i l y . The m a j o r i t y of the remaining a d o l e s c e n t s i n the W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) study, the authors noted, showed some emotional and b e h a v i o u r a l problems a f t e r t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . Although f o r many of the teenagers, understanding p e r s o n a l m o r a l i t y was an important i s s u e , not a l l r e d e f i n e d t h e i r r o l e s f a v o u r a b l y . I t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t the combination of loosened d i s c i p l i n e and c o n f u s i o n over what i s r i g h t and wrong may have l e d to the l o s s of f a m i l i a r c o n t r o l s and d i r e c t i o n f o r the c h i l d r e n , and as a r e s u l t behaviours such as p e t t y t h i e v e r y , p r o m i s c u i t y , poor s e l f - e s t e e m , p e r v a s i v e sadness, s c h o o l p o t e n t i a l below normal, compulsive o v e r e a t i n g , and c h r o n i c i r r i t a b i l i t y were seen. In an eighteen month follow-up study, the authors found t h a t c h i l d h o o d d e p r e s s i o n was p e r v a s i v e i n about one-quarter of the c h i l d r e n and a d o l e s c e n t s , and manifested i t s e l f i n many of the behaviours l i s t e d above. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) noted t h a t "one p o t e n t i a l major impact of d i v o r c e i s e i t h e r to d r i v e a d o l e s c e n t development forward a t a g r e a t l y a c c e l e r a t e d tempo, or b r i n g i t to a g r i n d i n g h a l t " (p. 83). The review of the l i t e r a t u r e i l l u s t r a t e s t h a t d i v o r c e i s p e r c e i v e d by c h i l d r e n and ado l e s c e n t s t o be a p a i n f u l event. 24 Research suggests t h a t the experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e i s one which seems to provoke some d i s t u r b i n g behaviours i n c h i l d r e n and a l s o p r e c i p i t a t e emotional maladjustment. Divorce then appears to be an area of concern i n psychology. A l s o , Santrock (1987) notes t h a t there has been l i t t l e r e s e a r c h conducted upon the a d o l e s c e n t experience of d i v o r c e . Consequently, r e s e a r c h on a d o l e s c e n t s ' experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e seems to be warranted i n order to document t h i s event more completely. Summary I t i s apparent from t h i s review of the l i t e r a t u r e t h a t p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e a f f e c t s the emotional, c o g n i t i v e , and b e h a v i o u r a l w e l l - b e i n g of c h i l d r e n i n a number of ways. The c h i l d r e n ' s experience of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e i s n a t u r a l l y unique to each i n d i v i d u a l , and t h i s accounts f o r the breadth of responses d e s c r i b e d by the l i t e r a t u r e . However, r e s e a r c h has a l s o noted some c o n s i s t e n t responses across and p e c u l i a r to ages. Across ages, Hetherington (1979) commented t h a t a l l c h i l d r e n f i n d the experience of d i v o r c e to be a p a i n f u l one. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) noted t h a t most c h i l d r e n d e s c r i b e d a d e s i r e to undo the d i v o r c e , and experienced f e e l i n g s of a n x i e t y , worry and d e p r e s s i o n . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y a l s o noted t h a t as younger c h i l d r e n are more dependent upon t h e i r p a r e n t s , t h e i r coping s t r a t e g i e s d i f f e r e d from a d o l e s c e n t s . For a d o l e s c e n t s the d i v o r c e caused a r i f t i n t h e i r normal 25 d e v e l o p m e n t a l p r o c e s s . I n p a r t i c u l a r , t h e a d o l e s c e n t ' s d e v e l o p m e n t i n t h e a r e a s o f s e x u a l i t y , e m o t i o n a l and s o c i a l g r o w t h , and i n t e l l e c t u a l and m o r a l u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f h i s o r h e r w o r l d were a f f e c t e d . I t was n o t e d t h a t d e v e l o p m e n t may n o t o n l y r e m a i n s t a t i c , b u t c a n be i m p e l l e d f o r w a r d i n some a r e a s and o r be r e v e r t e d b a c k w a r d s . 26 CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY The present study i s i n t e r e s t e d i n d e s c r i b i n g the experience of d i v o r c e f o r adolescent g i r l s . As the study seeks to d e s c r i b e the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience, a phenomenological methodology was u t i l i z e d . This chapter w i l l d e s c r i b e the procedure followed, and how r i g o u r was a t t a i n e d . Procedure P a r t i c i p a n t s C r i t e r i a f o r s e l e c t i o n . An adolescent-aged p o p u l a t i o n was chosen f o r two reasons. F i r s t , based upon f i n d i n g s by Santrock (1987) and W a l l e r s t e i n (1985), there has been l i t t l e r e s e a r c h conducted upon the ad o l e s c e n t ' s experience o f d i v o r c e . Secondly, my own work i n a c l i n i c a l s e t t i n g suggested t h a t t h i s age group seemed t o be e x p e r i e n c i n g p a r t i c u l a r d i f f i c u l t y i n adapting to t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . Hetherington (1979) comments t h a t young c h i l d r e n can f e e l v u l n e r a b l e as a r e s u l t of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e because they r e c o g n i z e the degree to which they are p h y s i c a l l y and e m o t i o n a l l y dependent upon t h e i r p a r e n t s . While teenagers are s t i l l e m o t i o n a l l y and p h y s i c a l l y dependent upon t h e i r p a r e n t s , i t i s to a l e s s e r degree than c h i l d r e n . In a d d i t i o n , teenagers more commonly tend t o experiment with 27 dangerous methods of m i t i g a t i n g t h e i r p a i n and c o n f u s i o n . As a r e s u l t , s u i c i d e , substance abuse and p r o m i s c u i t y were common among the adolescent-aged g i r l s from d i v o r c e d homes which I worked w i t h . Before one i s able to h e l p these t r o u b l e d youngsters though, i t i s important f i r s t to understand t h e i r e xperience and understanding of the event. As o u t s i d e r s we can o n l y guess at how the youngsters make sense of t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e and the impact i t has upon them. The d e c i s i o n was made to u t i l i z e o n l y adolescent-aged g i r l s i n the study, r a t h e r than both males and females. T h i s was a d i f f i c u l t c h o i c e to make, but was based upon p e r s o n a l experience and the l i t e r a t u r e on s o c i a l i z a t i o n which suggests t h a t gender r o l e development d i f f e r s f o r males and female (Rice, 1981). As w e l l , e x p e c t a t i o n s of female c h i l d r e n i n f a m i l i e s may d i f f e r from those h e l d of male c h i l d r e n . As a r e s u l t female c h i l d r e n may assume d i f f e r e n t r o l e s , such as c a r e g i v i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , i n the f a m i l y . Consequently, s o c i a l l y a c c e p t a b l e ways of e x p r e s s i n g one's p a i n and c o n f u s i o n may d i f f e r between males and females. Therefore, i n order to a l l y the methodology of the present study with Sandelowski's (1986) c r i t e r i a , i t was thought t h a t themes drawn from the data would be more meaningful and r e p r e s e n t a t i v e i f i t were drawn from a r e l a t i v e l y homogeneous group. The t h i r d c r i t e r i o n e n t a i l e d s e t t i n g the age l i m i t s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s between age 16 and 19. As there are g e n e r a l l y l a r g e movements i n m a t u r i t y d u r i n g t h i s developmental time, an 28 attempt was made to keep the age group r e l a t i v e l y homogeneous. Al s o , as the developmental process i s one of moving both forward and backward ( W a l l e r s t e i n & K e l l y , 1985), u s i n g o l d e r teenagers helped keep the p o p u l a t i o n w i t h i n the boundaries o f adolescence. Fourth, the d e c i s i o n was made to i n c l u d e youngsters from a home where e i t h e r a d i v o r c e or a s e p a r a t i o n had o c c u r r e d . The c r i t e r i o n o f d i v o r c e versus s e p a r a t i o n i s an important d i s t i n c t i o n because c h i l d r e n may view t h e i r parents' l e g a l d i v o r c e d i f f e r e n t l y from t h e i r parents' i n i t i a l s e p a r a t i o n . I t seems p o s s i b l e t h a t i n homes where onl y a s e p a r a t i o n has occ u r r e d , the c h i l d may c l i n g t o the hope that r e c o n c i l i a t i o n c o u l d s t i l l occur. T h i s hope may a l t e r the c h i l d ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the event. On the other hand, the d i v o r c e process can be a lengthy one, p a r t i c u l a r l y when c h i l d r e n are i n v o l v e d . Custody d i s p u t e s over c h i l d r e n are common and can take years to r e s o l v e . Consequently i t was decided to use p a r t i c i p a n t s from e i t h e r a d i v o r c e d home or a home where a s e p a r a t i o n had o c c u r r e d . I b e l i e v e t h a t the i n i t i a l concern can be lessened by o n l y u s i n g c h i l d r e n from homes where the s e p a r a t i o n occurred over a year e a r l i e r . T h i s time frame should h e l p t o d i m i n i s h the c h i l d r e n ' s i n i t i a l f e r v e n t hope f o r r e c o n c i l i a t i o n and h e l p t o make the group more homogeneous. E s t a b l i s h i n g t h i s time frame a l s o helped t o meet other c r i t e r i a . As the emphasis on the study was to understand the experience o f d i v o r c e , i t was thought t h a t by the time one year 29 had elapsed the youngsters would pro b a b l y have moved past the i n i t i a l c r i s i s stage d e s c r i b e d by Hetherington (1979), through the g r i e v i n g process of d e n i a l and shock, and come to some understanding of the event. Schwartzberg (1981) a l s o d e s c r i b e s the d i v o r c e process as being d i v i s i b l e by three stages : a p r e d i v o r c e stage, a stage of s e p a r a t i o n , and the p o s t d i v o r c e stage. The time frame t h i s study u t i l i z e s w i l l ensure t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s are w e l l i n t o the s e p a r a t i o n stage, and many a l s o w i l l have reached the p o s t d i v o r c e stage. I t was a l s o decided to i n c l u d e g i r l s f o r whom the d i v o r c e had o c c u r r e d from age ten and o l d e r . T h i s would r e q u i r e t h a t the a c t u a l s e p a r a t i o n of t h e i r parents had occurred, at the most, no more than nine years p r e v i o u s l y . T h i s time frame, i t was thought, would g i v e the g i r l s ample time to have c o n s i d e r e d the event, while s t i l l h aving had the event occur r e c e n t l y enough to have maintained a f a i r l y c l e a r memory of i t . F i f t h , i t was decided to i n c l u d e o n l y g i r l s from a n o n c l i n i c a l p o p u l a t i o n , with the p r o v i s o that f a m i l i e s t h a t had gone f o r treatment a f t e r the shock of the d i v o r c e c o u l d be i n c l u d e d . This c r i t e r i o n was based on the assumption t h a t an understanding of teenage g i r l s ' experience of d i v o r c e was best drawn from a r e l a t i v e l y homogeneous group. I n c l u d i n g a c h i l d who had or was undergoing indepth p s y c h i a t r i c or p s y c h o l o g i c a l treatment c o u l d add numerous other v a r i a b l e s to the c h i l d ' s understanding of the event. On the other hand, g i r l s whose f a m i l i e s had sought h e l p f o l l o w i n g the d i v o r c e to f a c i l i t a t e the p r o c e s s , or g i r l s who had sought h e l p from school c o u n s e l l o r s , 30 were i n c l u d e d i n the study. These responses were thought to be a p p r o p r i a t e responses to a c r i s i s , and i t seemed reasonable to i n c l u d e t h i s group. T h e r e f o r e , g i r l s who d e s c r i b e d themselves as 'normal' became the t a r g e t e d p a r t i c i p a n t s . The s i x t h c r i t e r i o n r e q u i r e d g i r l s who were comfortable and w i l l i n g to be i n v o l v e d i n a study of t h i s nature. The i n t e r v i e w i n g process n e c e s s i t a t e d g i r l s who were comfortable t a l k i n g about themselves and who were accustomed to d e s c r i b i n g t h e i r thoughts, experiences and f e e l i n g s . L a st, both the g i r l s and t h e i r c u s t o d i a l parent or guardian were w i l l i n g to g i v e w r i t t e n consent t o the g i r l s ' p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the study. S e l e c t i o n procedure. The p a r t i c i p a n t s were contacted e i t h e r by word of mouth or by s i g n s posted at community centers such as the White Rock Womens' Center. The purpose of the study, to understand the experience of d i v o r c e from a teenager's p e r s p e c t i v e , was e x p l a i n e d to the p a r t i c i p a n t s . A l e t t e r o u t l i n i n g the study and i n c l u d i n g the consent form was gi v e n t o the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The r e s e a r c h e r ensured t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s understood the content of the l e t t e r . The consent p o r t i o n was a l s o reviewed. The consent p o r t i o n requested s i g n a t u r e s from both the p a r t i c i p a n t and the parent with whom the c h i l d was c u r r e n t l y r e s i d i n g . The consent form requested p e r m i s s i o n f o r the c h i l d t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n the 31 study and to be audiotaped d u r i n g the i n t e r v i e w . The r e s e a r c h e r ' s home phone number was i n c l u d e d i n the i n f o r m a t i o n form, and the r e s e a r c h e r encouraged both the p a r t i c i p a n t and parent t o con t a c t her f o r f u r t h e r i n f o r m a t i o n . Once the consent form had been signed, the p a r t i c i p a n t was asked t o phone the r e s e a r c h e r , and an i n t e r v i e w time was s e t . The i n t e r v i e w s were conducted i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' homes, and each i n t e r v i e w was between one to two hours i n l e n g t h . Data C o l l e c t i o n The data were c o l l e c t e d by the use of audiotaped i n t e r v i e w s conducted i n the respondents' homes. E i g h t s u b j e c t s were i n t e r v i e w e d t w i c e . The f i r s t and second i n t e r v i e w s were approximately two weeks a p a r t . A w r i t t e n i n t e r v i e w guide was developed f o r use i n the i n i t i a l i n t e r v i e w s (see Appendix C). This guide was based upon G i o r g i (1975) An A p p l i c a t i o n of Phenomenological Method i n Psychology, and upon the review of l i t e r a t u r e . T h i s knowledge base p r o v i d e d the r e s e a r c h e r with a p l a c e to begin i n the i n t e r v i e w s . As w e l l , i t pr o v i d e d a c h e c k - l i s t f o r s i g n i f i c a n t areas t o be covered. From t h i s base, the re s e a r c h e r and respondents were ab l e t o i d e n t i f y and expl o r e new themes t h a t were r e l e v a n t to the respondents. The i n t e r v i e w guide was p a r t i c u l a r l y u s e f u l t o h e l p draw out some of the shyer respondents, and to p r o v i d e some i n i t i a l s t r u c t u r e which helped to develop r a p p o r t . For the more g r e g a r i o u s respondents, the 32 i n t e r v i e w guide was not as u s e f u l . The r e s e a r c h e r t r i e d to phrase open-ended questions to encourage the respondents' p e r s p e c t i v e . Spradley (1979), i n The Ethnographic Interview, d e s c r i b e s how the e x p l o r a t i o n p rocess i s enhanced by u s i n g d e s c r i p t i v e q u e s t i o n s . Spradley s t a t e s t h a t the q u a l i t a t i v e i n t e r v i e w process i s g r e a t l y improved by making repeated e x p l a n a t i o n s of your purpose, r e s t a t i n g what respondents say, and a s k i n g f o r usage r a t h e r than meaning. Spradley comments t h a t asking q u e s t i o n s such as "why would you do t h a t " and "what do you mean by t h a t , " c o n t a i n a judgemental tone to them t h a t do not a s s i s t the i n t e r v i e w i n g p r o c e s s . Q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h hopes to d e l i n e a t e the respondent's understanding of an event, which suggests t h a t "both questions and answers must be d i s c o v e r e d from informants" (Spradley, 1979, p. 84). Therefore, q u e s t i o n s should be phrased to encourage the respondent's understanding of the experience, r a t h e r than the r e s e a r c h e r ' s understanding. A second i n t e r v i e w guide was designed f o r the second set of i n t e r v i e w s based upon i n f o r m a t i o n l e a r n e d from the i n i t i a l i n t e r v i e w s . An attempt was made to f o l l o w Sandelowski's s u g g e s t i o n t o a t t a i n r i g o u r by asking the respondents whether the themes i d e n t i f i e d from the f i r s t s e t of i n t e r v i e w s seemed r e l e v a n t and f i t t h e i r experience. As w e l l , a t y p i c a l elements were d i s c u s s e d with the respondents. 33 Data A n a l y s i s A f t e r each i n t e r v i e w was completed, i t was t r a n s c r i b e d by the r e s e a r c h e r . G i o r g i (1975) suggests four steps to be f o l l o w e d i n the data a n a l y s i s p r o c e s s . F i r s t , one reads through the t r a n s c r i b e d i n t e r v i e w to a t t a i n a sense of the whole i n t e r v i e w . Next, look f o r "meaning u n i t s " i n the respondents' d i s c u s s i o n , which are n a t u r a l paragraphs t h a t r e v o l v e around one another. A f t e r d e f i n i n g these u n i t s , the r e s e a r c h e r t r i e s to s t a t e the theme t h a t dominates each u n i t . G i o r g i then suggests the r e s e a r c h e r examine the themes and the raw data from the p e r s p e c t i v e of what the study wished to e x p l o r e . For example, do these data or suggested themes or t o p i c s d e s c r i b e how the respondent viewed her experience of her p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e ? Does t h i s theme e x p l a i n and account f o r how the respondent understood her p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e ? Does t h i s theme d e s c r i b e how the respondent f e l t the d i v o r c e a f f e c t e d her? Once these themes have been d e l i n e a t e d , the r e s e a r c h e r then t r i e s t o " t i e together i n t o a d e s c r i p t i v e statement the e s s e n t i a l , non-redundant themes" ( G i o r g i , 1975, p. 88). G i o r g i suggests t h a t t h i s be accomplished by d e s c r i b i n g the " s i t u a t e d " l e v e l and the " g e n e r a l " l e v e l . The s i t u a t e d l e v e l i n c l u d e s the s p e c i f i c s of the a c t u a l r e s e a r c h s i t u a t i o n and the g e n e r a l i n v o l v e s aspects which appear to be t r a n s s i t u a t i o n a l . G i o r g i (1975) comments t h a t : 34 the s i t u a t e d d e s c r i p t i o n s g e n e r a l l y have value i n t r y i n g t o understand the world of the s u b j e c t , or i n more f a m i l i a r terms, they have i d i o g r a p h i c v a l u e . The g e n e r a l d e s c r i p t i o n s , on the other hand, have a nomothetic v a l u e . One would t r y to r e l a t e them to other f i n d i n g s . . . and with other phenomena i n a more t h e o r e t i c a l context, (p. 97) Based upon t h i s a n a l y s i s , the r e s e a r c h e r was able t o i d e n t i f y themes p e c u l i a r t o each respondent, themes shared by some and or a l l respondents, and themes s i m i l a r to those r e p o r t e d by r e s e a r c h . 35 Rigour i n a Q u a l i t a t i v e Methodology Q u a l i t a t i v e methods of re s e a r c h have been c r i t i c i z e d f o r f a i l i n g t o conform to r e c o g n i z e d standards of s c i e n t i f i c i n q u i r y and measurement. The m a j o r i t y of the c r i t i c i s m has been d i r e c t e d at the tendency of q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h to not f o l l o w e s t a b l i s h e d s c i e n t i f i c standards i n order to achieve the c r i t e r i a of v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y . As the p r e s e n t study proposes to use a q u a l i t a t i v e method of i n q u i r y , i t seems necessary to examine some of these c r i t i c i s m s . K e r l i n g e r (1986) b r o a d l y d e s c r i b e s v a l i d i t y as a r e s e a r c h d e s i g n t h a t a c t u a l l y measures what i t proposes to measure. Because the s o c i a l s c i e n c e s g e n e r a l l y attempts to measure and understand c o n s t r u c t s r a t h e r than p h y s i c a l phenomenon, the q u e s t i o n of are we measuring what we t h i n k we are measuring i s e s p e c i a l l y germane. Consequently, the e x i s t e n c e of v a l i d i t y i n a study i s c r u c i a l to determine. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , q u a n t i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h has sought to e s t a b l i s h v a l i d i t y through v a r i o u s m e t h o d o l o g i c a l requirements, such as e s t a b l i s h i n g r e p r e s e n t a t i v e n e s s i n measuring instruments to assure content v a l i d i t y , by comparing r e s u l t s with other r e l a t e d e x t e r n a l v a r i a b l e s to e s t a b l i s h c r i t e r i o n - r e l a t e d v a l i d i t y , and e s t a b l i s h c o n s t r u c t v a l i d i t y by comparison to r e l a t e d theory. In g e n e r a l , a r e s e a r c h e r hopes to be able to e l u c i d a t e the a c t u a l nature of a v a r i a b l e without d i s t o r t i n g i t through a research d e s i g n t h a t may a l t e r the phenomenon be i n g s t u d i e d , through m i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of 36 the v a r i a b l e by u s i n g i n a p p r o p r i a t e theory, or through sampling or s t a t i s t i c a l d i s t o r t i o n s , such as r e g r e s s i o n to the mean. Another c e n t r a l requirement f o r the establishment of r i g o u r i s the e x i s t e n c e of r e l i a b i l i t y i n a r e s e a r c h d e s i g n . K e r l i n g e r (1986) d e f i n e s r e l i a b i l i t y as the accuracy and s t a b i l i t y of a measuring instrument. Accuracy and s t a b i l i t y are o b v i o u s l y important to an instrument's p r e d i c t i v e a b i l i t y . P r e d i c t i v e a b i l i t y , some s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s would argue, i s the cynosure of psychology. Much p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h focuses on d i s c o v e r i n g ' t r u t h s ' from which laws can be d e r i v e d , and from these laws the p r e d i c t i o n of human thought and a c t i o n (Bruyn, 1970; M i s h l e r , 1979). Therefore, without a r e l i a b l e and a v a l i d r e s e a r c h design, there can be l i t t l e c onfidence p l a c e d i n the c o n c l u s i o n s made from a study. In the s o c i a l s c i e n c e s there has been a c o n t r o v e r s y e x i s t i n g f o r some time about whether t r a d i t i o n a l q u a n t i t a t i v e measures are adequate to meet the necessary demands of v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y . M i s h l e r (1979) argues t h a t t r a d i t i o n a l methods f a i l to meet these c r i t e r i a because they remove the s u b j e c t s of s t u d i e s out of t h e i r normal context. T h i s removal renders the r e s u l t s a r t i f i c i a l . G i o r g i (1975) suggests t h a t t h e r e i s a p l a c e and a need f o r both q u a n t i t a t i v e and q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h i n the s o c i a l s c i e n c e s . Q u a n t i t a t i v e s c h o o l s , G i o r g i comments, have not encouraged q u a l i t a t i v e s c h o o l s because they are not conducive to t r a d i t i o n a l measures of r i g o u r . However, G i o r g i suggests t h a t a q u a l i t a t i v e methodology i s able to meet the requirements of r i g o u r by 37 f o c u s i n g on n a t u r a l human experience. In doing so the design becomes both v a l i d and r e l i a b l e . My e x p r e s s i o n i n t e n d s to communicate that i t i s p o s s i b l e to have a human s c i e n c e of psychology and t h a t s i t u a t e d w i t h i n t h i s context psychology can s t i l l be p r a c t i c e d with r i g o r and d i s c i p l i n e , and yet do j u s t i c e to a l l human p s y c h o l o g i c a l phenomena. In order to accomplish t h i s task, however, the key n o t i o n s of s c i e n c e (e.g., o b j e c t i v i t y , r i g o r , r e s e a r c h , etc) and even the n o t i o n of s c i e n c e i t s e l f w i l l have to be expanded. ( G i o r g i , 1975, p. 82) Sandelowski (1986) suggests t h a t q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h can be v a l i d because "the t r u t h value of a q u a l i t a t i v e i n v e s t i g a t i o n g e n e r a l l y r e s i d e s i n the d i s c o v e r y of human phenomena or experiences as they are l i v e d and p e r c e i v e d by s u b j e c t s , r a t h e r than i n the v e r i f i c a t i o n of a p r i o r i c o nceptions of those experiences" (p. 30). Guba and L i n c o l n ( i n Sandelowski, 1986) suggest using d i f f e r e n t c r i t e r i a t o judge the r i g o u r of q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h . C r e d i b i l i t y and a p p l i c a b i l i t y , they suggest, are more a p p r o p r i a t e measures to gauge v a l i d i t y i n a q u a l i t a t i v e study. C r e d i b i l i t y e x i s t s when a study a c c u r a t e l y and f a i t h f u l l y r e p r e s e n t s a p a r t i c u l a r human exp e r i e n c e . C r e d i b i l i t y can be judged by the degree to which s u b j e c t s and others agree to and i d e n t i f y with the accuracy of t h a t which i s p o r t r a y e d . A p p l i c a b i l i t y i s r e l a t e d to the g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of f i n d i n g s and the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e n e s s of s u b j e c t s and measures. Sandelowski comments t h a t g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y i s an i l l u s i v e phenomenon i n any type of r e s e a r c h . From the q u a l i t a t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e , g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y i s based on the r e i f i c a t i o n of a c o n t e x t - f r e e s t r u c t u r e t h a t does not e x i s t and the assumption t h a t the m u l t i p l e r e a l i t i e s i n any g i v e n s i t u a t i o n can be c o n t r o l l e d to i l l u m i n a t e the e f f e c t s of a few v a r i a b l e s . (Sandelowski, 1986, p. 31) 38 S t i l l , q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h cannot l a y c l a i m to l a r g e sample s i z e s which, i n q u a n t i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h , h e l p to support the g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of a study to a degree. Because of the volume of the data t h a t i s generated through i n t e r v i e w s with s u b j e c t s , sample s i z e s i n q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h p r a c t i c a l l y must keep t h e i r sample s i z e s r e l a t i v e l y s m a l l . Guba and L i n c o l n ( i n Sandelowski, 1986) suggest t h a t f i t t i n g n e s s be used as a gauge then to determine the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of a study. F i t t i n g n e s s d e s c r i b e s how w e l l " f i n d i n g s can ' f i t ' i n t o contexts o u t s i d e the study s i t u a t i o n and when i t s audience views i t s f i n d i n g s as meaningful and a p p l i c a b l e i n terms of t h e i r own e x p e r i e n c e s " (p. 32). R e l i a b i l i t y , the c o n s i s t e n c y , s t a b i l i t y and d e p e n d a b i l i t y of a t e s t , i s b e s t measured by the c r i t e r i o n of a u d i t a b i l i t y (Sandelowski, 1986). R e l i a b i l i t y i s g e n e r a l l y b e l i e v e d to e x i s t when a study can be r e p l i c a t e d and shown to have c o n s i s t e n t f i n d i n g s with the o r i g i n a l study. Q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h however emphasizes the uniqueness of i n d i v i d u a l s and environments, and consequently does not emphasize g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y i n the same sense. A u d i t a b i l i t y , Sandelowski argues, i s the more a p p r o p r i a t e measure as i t e x i s t s when the " d e c i s i o n t r a i l " l e f t by a r e s e a r c h e r can be c l e a r l y f o l l o w e d and another r e s e a r c h e r c o u l d a r r i v e a t s i m i l a r c o n c l u s i o n s using s i m i l a r data, p e r s p e c t i v e s and s i t u a t i o n s . Sandelowski (1986) suggests a number of s t r a t e g i e s to i n c r e a s e the c r e d i b i l i t y and a p p l i c a b i l i t y of a q u a l i t a t i v e study. 39 1. Avoid the " e l i t e b i a s , " the tendency to u t i l i z e the most a r t i c u l a t e , a c c e s s i b l e or h i g h - s t a t u s members i n a group. 2. E s t a b l i s h the t y p i c a l i t y of events, behaviours and responses of the s u b j e c t s l i v e s . 3. Avoid the " h o l i s t i c f a l l a c y " which tends to make data appear to be more sy s t e m a t i c than they may be. To achieve these, Sandelowski (1986) suggests the r e s e a r c h e r i n c l u d e : 1) Checking f o r the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e n e s s of the data as a whole and of coding c a t e g o r i e s and examples used t o reduce and prese n t the data; 2) t r i a n g u l a t i n g a c r o s s data sources and data c o l l e c t i o n procedures to determine the congruence of f i n d i n g s among them; 3) checking t h a t d e s c r i p t i o n s , e x p l a n a t i o n s , or t h e o r i e s about the data c o n t a i n the t y p i c a l and a t y p i c a l elements of the data; 4) d e l i b e r a t e l y t r y i n g to d i s c o u n t or di s p r o v e a c o n c l u s i o n drawn about the data; and 5 ) o b t a i n i n g v a l i d a t i o n from the s u b j e c t s themselves (p. 35). Sandelowski a l s o suggests t h a t a u d i t a b i l i t y can be achieved by d e s c r i b i n g , e x p l a i n i n g , or j u s t i f y i n g : 1) How the r e s e a r c h e r became i n t e r e s t e d i n the s u b j e c t matter of the study, 2) how the r e s e a r c h e r views the t h i n g s t u d i e d , 3) the s p e c i f i c purpose(s) of the study, 4) how s u b j e c t s or p i e c e s of evidence came to be i n c l u d e d i n the study and how they were approached, 5) the impact the s u b j e c t s or evidence and the r e s e a r c h e r s had on each other, 6) how the data were c o l l e c t e d , 7) how long data c o l l e c t i o n l a s t e d , 8) the nature of the s e t t i n g ( s ) i n which data were c o l l e c t e d , 9) how the data were reduced or transformed f o r a n a l y s i s , i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and p r e s e n t a t i o n , 10) how v a r i o u s elements of the data were weighted, 11) the i n c l u s i v e n e s s and e x c l u s i v e n e s s of the c a t e g o r i e s developed t o c o n t a i n the data, and 12) the s p e c i f i c techniques used t o determine the t r u t h value and a p p l i c a b i l i t y of the data (p. 35). The pr e s e n t study has attempted to meet the c r i t e r i a f o r r i g o u r i d e n t i f i e d by Sandelowski by: a) f o l l o w i n g the c r i t e r i a o u t l i n e d , b) c l e a r l y i d e n t i f y i n g the r e s e a r c h e r ' s i n t e r e s t , p e r s o n a l view, and purpose of the study. 40 Assumptions In a q u a l i t a t i v e study which seeks to explore i n d i v i d u a l e xperience, i t i s o f t e n wise to a r t i c u l a t e the r e s e a r c h e r ' s assumptions upon the t o p i c . Researcher's assumptions have the p o t e n t i a l t o i n f l u e n c e the data, p a r t i c u l a r l y when they are not c l e a r l y e l u c i d a t e d . Sandelowski (1986) suggests t h a t by i d e n t i f y i n g the r e s e a r c h e r ' s assumptions, a u d i t a b i l i t y , or v a l i d i t y , can be maintained. T h i s r e s e a r c h e r ' s assumptions seem t o f a l l w i t h i n two groups: a) my b e l i e f s around the experience o f d i v o r c e and, b) my b e l i e f s around how the re s e a r c h should be conducted. C l e a r l y , I began t h i s study with the b e l i e f t h a t d i v o r c e i s experienced as t r a u m a t i c by c h i l d r e n . T h i s b e l i e f was born out o f watching my own s t e p c h i l d r e n s t r u g g l e with t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . I a l s o b e l i e v e t h a t d i v o r c e i s a trauma i n c h i l d r e n ' s l i v e s , and t h a t e x p e r i e n c i n g trauma i n c h i l d h o o d can e f f e c t c h i l d r e n ' s b e l i e f systems as they age. For myself, I b e l i e v e t h a t j u s t world theory and a t t r i b u t i o n theory h e l p to e x p l a i n how i n d i v i d u a l s make sense of an u n p r e d i c t a b l e and sometimes f r i g h t e n i n g world. The choice of methodology was i n f l u e n c e d by G i o r g i ' s (1975) r e s e a r c h on conducting phenomenological r e s e a r c h . Consequently, the data c o l l e c t i o n and a n a l y s i s process i n t h i s study was shaped by G i o r g i ' s r e s e a r c h . Sandelowski (1986) has i n f l u e n c e d my p o s i t i o n on a t t a i n i n g v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y i n a study o f t h i s nature. 41 E t h i c a l Concerns An i n i t i a l concern was t h a t the respondent and the respondent's parent would be given the o p p o r t u n i t y to c o n s i d e r t h e i r involvement i n the study i n a non-threatening way i n the absence of the r e s e a r c h e r . To a s s i s t i n t h i s , a l e t t e r of i n t r o d u c t i o n was f i r s t g i v e n to the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b i n g the nature and requirements of the study. Consent was a l s o asked, i n w r i t i n g , of both the p a r t i c i p a n t and the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s c u s t o d i a l parent. The r e s e a r c h e r wished t o ensure t h a t both the respondent and the respondent's parent c l e a r l y understood the purpose and nature of the study. The p a r t i c i p a n t s were a l s o assured of c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y . C o n f i d e n t i a l i t y was achieved by not u s i n g the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' names or any i d e n t i f y i n g f e a t u r e s i n the t h e s i s . As w e l l , a l l t r a n s c r i p t s and tape r e c o r d i n g s of the i n t e r v i e w s w i l l be des t r o y e d a f t e r completion of both the the t h e s i s and any f u r t h e r s c h o l a r l y papers based upon the i n t e r v i e w s . The tape recorded i n t e r v i e w s were t r a n s c r i b e d by the r e s e a r c h e r . The respondents were informed t h a t there were no f i n a n c i a l renumerations f o r p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the study, and t h a t they c o u l d end t h e i r involvement i n the study at any time i f they wished. 42 Summary T h i s chapter has i d e n t i f i e d the s e l e c t i o n procedure u t i l i z e d i n the pr e s e n t study, the methods of data c o l l e c t i o n , and data a n a l y s i s . T h i s chapter has d e s c r i b e d some of the c r i t i c i s m s commonly l e v e l l e d at q u a l i t a t i v e methdologies. I t has attempted to o u t l i n e c r i t e r i a to meet r i g o u r i n a q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h design by i d e n t i f y i n g r e s e a r c h methods suggested by Sandelowski (1986) and G i o r g i (1975). The chapter then addressed some e t h i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s . 43 CHAPTER FOUR THE PARTICIPANTS' EXPERIENCE I n t r o d u c t i o n T h i s chapter w i l l p r e s e n t the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' d e s c r i p t i o n of the d i v o r c e p r o c e s s . The a n a l y s i s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' d e s c r i p t i o n s has been modelled a f t e r G i o r g i ' s (1975) d i s c u s s i o n on data a n a l y s i s . I n i t i a l l y , the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' s t o r y o f t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e was examined. These accounts were examined f o r s i m i l a r i t i e s i n ex p e r i e n c e . These s i m i l a r i t i e s were then grouped i n t o 12 common stages, or t o p i c a l headings. These t o p i c s were then grouped i n t o four comprehensive p r o c e s s e s . Using the Interview Guide (see Appendix C) to encourage the p a r t i c i p a n t s to d i s c u s s and ex p l o r e t h e i r experience o f p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e , the f i r s t s e t of i n t e r v i e w s r e v e a l e d a f a i r l y comprehensive d e s c r i p t i o n of the d i v o r c e e x p e r i e n c e . T h i s experience was then analyzed u t i l i z i n g G i o r g i ' s (1975) a n a l y s i s p r o c e s s . T h i s process e n t a i l s i d e n t i f y i n g "meaning u n i t s " , which are n a t u r a l paragraphs t h a t appear r e l a t e d t o each o t h e r . These meaning u n i t s are then d e f i n e d i n terms of themes t h a t seem to dominate each u n i t . A f t e r examining the i n i t i a l t r a n s c i p t s , 12 main themes or t o p i c s seemed to emerge as the most comprehensive d e s c r i p t i o n of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e x p e r i e n c e . These t o p i c s a r e : the 44 experience of d i v o r c e , changing homes, a l t e r e d f i n a n c e s , r e l a t i o n s h i p s between c h i l d and parent and c h i l d and s i b l i n g s a l t e r e d , ways of coping, f a m i l y breakdown, view of world threatened, views on r e l a t i o n s h i p s , sense of f a m i l y , gained m a t u r i t y and i n s i g h t , and the l e s s o n s l e a r n e d . The second i n t e r v i e w then focused on i d e n t i f y i n g whether these t o p i c s were r e a l l y d e s c r i p t i v e of each p a r t i c i p a n t ' s e xperience (see Appendix D). With each p a r t i c i p a n t I e x p l a i n e d the twelve t o p i c s o u t l i n e d i n Appendix D. Each p a r t i c i p a n t then confirmed whether these were i l l u s t r a t i v e of her experience, or how they d i f f e r e d . P r o g r e s s i n g step by step through each t o p i c helped to generate more d i s c u s s i o n around t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s . Often t h i s d i s c u s s i o n confirmed the t o p i c s i n Appendix D, and a l s o helped to expand on each p o i n t . I found the process to be q u i t e v a l i d a t i n g both f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s and f o r myself. One p a r t i c i p a n t commented t h a t : " t h i s i s probably the f i r s t time I've ever r e a l l y t a l k e d about [the d i v o r c e ] with anybody as much, or w e l l , anybody r e a l l y , because we never t a l k e d about i t . " Another p a r t i c i p a n t remarked "I t h i n k t h a t ' s r e a l l y good t h a t you f i g u r e d t h i s o u t i " I found t h a t on the whole the p a r t i c i p a n t s agreed with the 12 t o p i c areas. I a l s o found t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s were very keen to c l e a r l y a r t i c u l a t e t h e i r experience, and i f they f e l t t h a t a word I had chosen to d e s c r i b e t h e i r experience was not q u i t e r i g h t , such as the term j e a l o u s y , they were quick to p o i n t out t h i s d i s c r e p a n c y . As w e l l , some of the t o p i c s 45 simply d i d not d e s c r i b e a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e x p e r i e n c e . Most o f t e n t h i s was due to d i f f e r e n c e s i n the p h y s i c a l environment of the c h i l d . As an example, f o r one p a r t i c i p a n t the t o p i c " s t r e s s e s evoked by s t e p p a r e n t s " d i d not apply as n e i t h e r of her parents had dated other people. For another p a r t i c i p a n t , her f a t h e r and stepmother l i v e d i n a d i s t a n t c i t y . Under each t o p i c heading was i n c l u d e d a l i s t of themes which summarized a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' s t o r i e s (see Appendix D ) . Because of t h e i r s p e c i f i c i t y , many of these themes were not as d e s c r i p t i v e of the experience f o r a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s . However, as the 12 t o p i c s d e s c r i b e d the general experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e they seemed to be more r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of the experience of a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s . In the second i n t e r v i e w I a l s o shared with the p a r t i c i p a n t s my p e r c e p t i o n of t h e i r s t o r y . I had developed s e v e r a l hypotheses from the f i r s t s et of i n t e r v i e w s which I f e l t added a new p e r s p e c t i v e to the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e xperience. These hunches centered on two main a r e a s . F i r s t , I b e l i e v e d t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience was s i m i l a r t o one d e s c r i b e d by j u s t world theory (Rubin & Peplau, 1975). The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' p e r c e p t i o n of a j u s t world had been threatened by t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e , and t h i s p e r c e p t i o n o f t e n r e s u l t e d i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s having d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g o t h e r s , and i n an i n c r e a s e d d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l over t h e i r l i v e s . Second, I f e l t t h a t the d i v o r c e a f f e c t e d how they came to see t h e i r f a m i l i e s . I was i n t r i g u e d by how many p a r t i c i p a n t s seemed t o have g r e a t e r t r o u b l e a c c e p t i n g 46 the a d d i t i o n of stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n to t h e i r home, than they d i d to the l o s s of one parent from t h e i r home. In summary, the second set of i n t e r v i e w s served to c o n f i r m the 1 2 t o p i c areas I had i d e n t i f i e d from the f i r s t s et of i n t e r v i e w s , t o add to or a l t e r the meaning behind some of these t o p i c s , t o explore my hunches about the meaning behind the experience, and to r e l a t e some of these f i n d i n g s to r e l e v a n t l i t e r a t u r e . The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e seems to f o l l o w a p r o g r e s s i o n . T h i s p r o g r e s s i o n becomes c l e a r once the 1 2 t o p i c s are o r g a n i z e d by t h e i r content i n t o four c a t e g o r i e s , or p r o c e s s e s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s , i n response to the experience of d i v o r c e , moved through each process, and i t s completion seemed to p r e c i p i t a t e movement on to the next p r o c e s s . I t was, f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , a type of p s y c h o l o g i c a l journey. T h i s journey then i s the p r o g e s s i o n I witnessed, and i t seems to be o r g a n i z e d around four c a t e g o r i e s . Using the term process r a t h e r than category seems more p r e c i s e however as w i t h i n each category there i s a l s o movement, and a process i s s u g g e s t i v e of movement. The content of the 1 2 t o p i c s i s such t h a t they seem to f i t w i t h i n one of these f o u r p r o c e s s e s . The f i r s t t o p i c , the immediate experience of the d i v o r c e , seemed to stand alone and was c h a r a c t e r i z e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' movement through the shock of the d i v o r c e , and the i n t e n s e f e e l i n g s the news o f t e n provoked. The second process i n c l u d e d t o p i c s which d e s c r i b e d changes i n the c h i l d ' s environment such as: s t r e s s e s evoked by the i n t r o d u c t i o n of s t e p p a r e n t s , a l t e r e d r e l a t i o n s h i p between the c h i l d and parent and s i b l i n g s , moving homes, a l t e r e d f i n a n c e s , and t h e i r ways 47 of coping with these changes. These changes r e q u i r e d the p a r t i c i p a n t to make a c o g n i t i v e adjustment and t h i s adjustment process i s d e s c r i b e d by another group of t o p i c a l headings which have to do with how the p a r t i c i p a n t s came to p e r c e i v e t h e i r changed world. These t o p i c s i n c l u d e d : view of world threatened, f a m i l y breakdown, and views on r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The l a s t process d e a l t with t o p i c s t h a t d e s c r i b e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s reframing the experience of d i v o r c e and e v e n t u a l l y moving toward r e s o l u t i o n of i t . T h i s process i n c l u d e d the t o p i c s of, sense of f a m i l y , l e s s o n s learned, and gained m a t u r i t y and i n s i g h t s . In summary, the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h e i r own unique ways seem to have moved through: the raw f e e l i n g s of l e a r n i n g about t h e i r par- ents' d i v o r c e , the p h y s i c a l changes the d i v o r c e e n t a i l e d , c o g n i - t i v e l y a d j u s t i n g to these changes, and f i n a l l y b e g i n n i n g to reframe the experience i n order to r e s o l v e and accept t h e i r new l i v e s . T h i s chapter w i l l d e s c r i b e t h i s p r o g r e s s i o n . Each of the four processes w i l l be d i s c u s s e d i n d e t a i l , u s ing examples from the i n t e r - views with the p a r t i c i p a n t s to i l l u s t r a t e each p r o c e s s . The f i r s t p r ocess to be d i s c u s s e d i s the immediate experience of the d i v o r c e . The Immediate Experience of the Divorce The immediate experience of the d i v o r c e i s the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s s t o r y of the d i v o r c e . N a t u r a l l y , each s t o r y enjoys i t s own i n d i v i d u a l sense of n a r r a t i v e and meaning. However, the s t o r i e s share s i m i l a r i t i e s i n terms of t h e i r p l o t and c o n t e x t . Each p a r t i c i p a n t experienced the end of her parents' marriage, and experienced t h i s change duri n g e i t h e r l a t e c h i l d h o o d or e a r l y 48 adolescence. As the g i r l s grew, they made sense of t h e i r e xperience i n many s i m i l a r ways. Although there are many s i m i l a r i t i e s i n experience, there a l s o appear to be s e v e r a l v a r i a b l e s t h a t i n t e n s i f i e d the uniqueness of the experience f o r each p a r t i c i p a n t . These were the p a r t i c i p a n t s 1 i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and meaning assigned to the d i v o r c e process, the degree of trauma i n v o l v e d i n the f a m i l y p r i o r t o the d i v o r c e , d u r i n g the d i v o r c e p e r i o d , and i n the p o s t - d i v o r c e f a m i l y , the age of the c h i l d , the f a m i l y s t r u c t u r e and dynamics and the coping mechanisms u t i l i z e d by the c h i l d . These v a r i a b l e s are a fundamental p a r t of each c h i l d ' s experience, and so t h e i r e f f e c t s w i l l be e v i d e n t throughout the f o l l o w i n g d i c u s s i o n . To t e l l the s t o r y o f the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of d i v o r c e I must s t a r t at the beg i n n i n g . Nowhere d i d the experiences share more s i m i l a r i t i e s than when the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' l e a r n e d of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' i n t e n t i o n to separate. For a l l but one of the p a r t i c i p a n t s the r e a c t i o n was one of shock, d e n i a l , sadness, and a c u r i o u s and sometimes humourous pragmatism. One g i r l wanted to know who would do Dad's d i s h e s , another worried about "well how are we going t o have money?" As the g i r l s recounted t h e i r s t o r y , they expressed some embarrassment at t h e i r p r a c t i c a l concerns about how t h e i r household s i t u a t i o n would be a l t e r e d . For a l l o f the g i r l s except the one p a r t i c i p a n t who d i d not express shock, d e n i a l , or p r a c t i c a l concerns, these household changes meant t h a t t h e i r f a t h e r would no longer be l i v i n g with them. The g i r l s who i n i t i a l l y expressed p r a c t i c a l concerns were 49 a l s o the g i r l s who d i d not, p r i o r t o the d i v o r c e , enjoy a c l o s e , emotional bond with t h e i r f a t h e r s . These f a t h e r s appeared to have engaged i n t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s i n t h e i r homes. These r o l e s o f t e n meant t h a t the men were absent much of the time from home pursuing demanding c a r e e r s . T h e i r r o l e was one o f m a t e r i a l p r o v i d e r , w h i l e t h e i r wives assumed the primary p a r e n t i n g r o l e . The g i r l s ' p r a c t i c a l concerns then r e f l e c t e d t h e i r understanding of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' r o l e s , and t h e i r f e a r o f how change would a f f e c t these r o l e s . G i r l s who d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g shock, or d e n i a l , were those g i r l s whose f a t h e r s had assumed more than the p r o v i d e r r o l e with t h e i r c h i l d r e n . These g i r l s looked to both of t h e i r p a r e n t s f o r guidance and nurturance. Again, l i k e the g i r l s who expressed p r a c t i c a l concerns, the i n i t i a l r e a c t i o n of these g i r l s r e f l e c t e d t h e i r f e a r s around the immediate changes i n t h e i r household. One g i r l was p l e a s e d by her mother's d e c i s i o n t o leave her f a t h e r . Her home p r i o r to her p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e was u n l i k e any of the other p a r t i c i p a n t s . Her f a t h e r was v i o l e n t and abusive to her mother. She was a f r a i d of her f a t h e r , and had hoped t h a t her parents' would d i v o r c e . For t h i s g i r l , the l o s s of one parent meant she was l e a v i n g f e a r behind her, w h i l e f o r the other p a r t i c i p a n t s , the l o s s of one parent e n t a i l e d moving toward the unknown. Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s were t o l d they were going to have a f a m i l y d i s c u s s i o n , and t h i s event u s u a l l y caused the g i r l s t o f e e l apprehensive as f a m i l y d i s c u s s i o n s were r a r e or n o n e x i s t e n t and were not p e r c e i v e d t o be a forum f o r good news. A l l but one of the p a r t i c i p a n t s have a v i v i d memory of l e a r n i n g of the news, and were able to d e s c r i b e where and when they were t o l d , who they were with and how they r e a c t e d . For most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , knowledge of the p o s s i b i l i t y of d i v o r c e made a d i f f e r e n c e as to how they r e a c t e d to the news. S e v e r a l of the g i r l s had witnessed f i g h t i n g between t h e i r p a r e n t s , and the i s s u e of s e p a r a t i o n had been r a i s e d b e f o r e , so t h a t the shock of the news was l e s s e n e d , r : was the news a shock? p: yeah i t was something I s o r t of expected, cause there was a l o t of f i g h t i n g going on and I don't know. I d i d n ' t a t the moment they t o l d us, i t was a b i g shock because I hadn't expected i t , but the background was s o r t of p o i n t i n g to i t , I s o r t of expected i t . The one p a r t i c i p a n t whose home had been v i o l e n t had been a c t i v e l y p l e a d i n g with her mother f o r s e v e r a l years to l e a v e . The v i o l e n c e i n her home had pushed her to the p o i n t where i f her mother had not l e f t , she f e l t t h a t she would have. p: I t ' s not l i k e I d i d n ' t want my parents to break up because when I was e l e v e n I s a i d , i f you don't leave, because she was always wanting to leave, I s a i d i f you don't leave, I don't want to l i v e here anymore. Th i s p a r t i c i p a n t p e r c e i v e d d i v o r c e as a s o l u t i o n r a t h e r than a l o s s . As a r e s u l t , her experience of the d i v o r c e d i f f e r s d r a m a t i c a l l y from the other p a r t i c i p a n t s . However, her adjustment to her parents' d i v o r c e appears to f o l l o w the p r o g r e s s i o n t h a t the other p a r t i c i p a n t s experienced as w e l l . T h i s e n t a i l e d a d j u s t i n g to the environmental changes i n c u r r e d by the d i v o r c e , coming to terms with her l o s s , and l e a r n i n g to accept the changes she had experienced. 51 For the other p a r t i c i p a n t s the experience of the d i v o r c e d i f f e r e d more by a matter of degree. For example, a n t i c i p a t i n g t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e seemed to h e l p l e s s e n the i n i t i a l shock. Although some g i r l s had a n t i c i p a t e d t h e i r p a r e n t s ' i n t e n t i o n t o d i v o r c e , they were s t i l l s u r p r i s e d by t h e i r own i n t e n s e r e a c t i o n to the news. p: I t h i n k i t was S who s a i d , I t h i n k Mum and Dad are going to get separated, and I s a i d yeah, I t h i n k they are too, and you know i t d i d n ' t upset me. I j u s t thought i t would happen, and when i t d i d happen i t was d i f f e r e n t , l i k e oh my God t h i s i s happening to me. Those who seemed to have the most d i f f i c u l t y coping with the news though were those who had e i t h e r not a n t i c i p a t e d the news or who had ignored the signs i n the home th a t suggested t h e i r parents may s p l i t . p: For such a long time you k i n d of r e a l l y don't r e a l i z e what's going on you know. There wasn't v i o l e n t f i g h t s and they weren't throwing t h i n g s at each other, i t wasn't l i k e t h a t . I t was a l l of a sudden t h i s sadness i n the f a m i l y and you don't r e a l l y know where i t comes from because you always had f a m i l y , there's been bad and good times too i n our l i f e but we've always been a f a m i l y through i t . For two s i s t e r s , one of t h e i r most poignant memories of l e a r n i n g of the d i v o r c e was the knowledge t h a t t h e i r f a t h e r had broken h i s promise to never d i v o r c e . p: I remember t h a t I was j u s t heart-broken when they separated because i t ' s l i k e he broke a promise, t h a t was the most d e v a s t a t i n g t h i n g . p: So I guess t h a t ' s why i t s o r t of s u r p r i s e d me a t f i r s t , i t ' s l i k e but you promised you know, but t h a t ' s j u s t b e i n g a k i d I guess t h a t you s o r t of keep t h a t i n your head but i t ' s always stuck with me, i t ' s always stuck with me, j u s t t h a t one promise he made. The metaphor of the broken promise i s an apt d e s c r i p t i o n of much of the g i r l s ' experience d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d of t h e i r 52 l i v e s . F e e l i n g s of abandonment, n e g l e c t , l o n e l i n e s s , and sadness were p e r v a s i v e . The f e e l i n g of abandonment seemed to stem not so much from having one parent leave the home, although t h a t d i d occur, but more from the l o s s of one or both parents who became overwhelmed e m o t i o n a l l y by the experience. p: Well i t was d i f f i c u l t f o r the f i r s t two y e a r s . We l i v e d with my Mum and she went i n t o a r e a l l y deep d e p r e s s i o n a f t e r and the f a c t t h a t my Dad had had an a f f a i r d i d n ' t h e l p a n y t h i n g . For the f i r s t two years she had to look a f t e r h e r s e l f s o r t o f t h i n g , i n a way I guess we were n e g l e c t e d . She had to look out f o r number one because I thin k i t was so d i f f i c u l t f o r her to even get up and face the day. For some of the g i r l s , t h e i r parents were able to p r o t e c t them from a sense of n e g l e c t and abandonment. p: Yeah, I d i d n ' t f e e l as much of an abandonment or alone f e e l i n g because my parents were so o v e r c a r e f u l to make sure t h a t everybody was okay. There was never a f e e l i n g t h a t they have l e f t and don't care, you know i t was more l i k e they've l e f t and they're c a r i n g too much or they're t r y i n g too hard. Other p a r t i c i p a n t s sought t o a v o i d the f e e l i n g o f abandonment by attempting to c o n t r o l t h e i r world. One way of a c h i e v i n g t h i s was by t a k i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the parent who had withdrawn. Many of the g i r l s b e l i e v e d t h a t they had at some time a f t e r the d i v o r c e "parented" one of t h e i r p a r e n t s . r : Did you f e e l a sense o f abandonment as the parent you l i v e d with withdrew? p: I never f e l t abandoned. I j u s t took r e s p o n s i b i l i t y a g a i n . Another g i r l f e l t a sense of abandonment when she chose to s i d e with her f a t h e r a f t e r the d i v o r c e . p: I f e l t l i k e the odd one because I had chosen t o be with Dad, I f e l t l i k e I was punished, l i k e I wasn't i n c l u d e d with t h e i r [mother and s i b l i n g ] own l i t t l e jokes and t h a t . Another p a r t i c i p a n t f e l t as i f she had abandoned her 53 f a t h e r . p: I guess there are times when, I mean when they f i r s t got d i v o r c e d I t h i n k I completely abandoned my Dad, e s p e c i a l l y when he pro b a b l y needed i t most. I t i s easy to see from these accounts t h a t the f e e l i n g o f abandonment was interwoven i n t o a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e a r l y r e a c t i o n to t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . The f e e l i n g s were a f f e c t e d by the d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e s of the g i r l s , and consequently were shaped by the g i r l s ' i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the event, and a l s o by the dynamics of t h e i r home. Through my own work i n c o u n s e l l i n g I have come to know th a t i n d i v i d u a l s f e a r abandonment at a very deep l e v e l o f t h e i r b e i n g . A l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study experienced these f e e l i n g s , and t h e i r i n f l u e n c e i s e s p e c i a l l y apparent throughout the stages of l e a r n i n g and acceptance. The f e e l i n g s o f l o s s and c o n f u s i o n a l s o d e s c r i b e the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience, and these f e e l i n g s g e n e r a l l y p e r s i s t e d f o r some time a f t e r the d i v o r c e . For two s i s t e r s who came from a home which was markedly s t a b l e a f t e r the d i v o r c e , these f e e l i n g s were not as d e s c r i p t i v e . For the remainder of the p a r t i c i p a n t s however, l o s s and c o n f u s i o n were prominent i s s u e s f o r them, and f o r a few p a r t i c i p a n t s , remain so s t i l l . The f e e l i n g s of sadness and anger were p e r v a s i v e , and i n p a r t can be t r a c e d t o the p a r t i c i p a n t s 1 response to t h e i r sense of l o s s . A f e e l i n g of shock was a l s o a common d e s c r i p t i o n used to d e s c r i b e t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e . One 54 p a r t i c i p a n t who was s l i g h t l y o l d e r than the other p a r t i c i p a n t s when the d i v o r c e f i r s t o c c u r r e d d e s c r i b e d h e r s e l f as f e e l i n g i n shock f o r the f i r s t s i x months, and d i d not begin t o experience her anger and sadness u n t i l a f t e r t h i s time. Her f a m i l y had t r i e d t o p r o t e c t the c h i l d r e n from much of the p a i n of t h e i r d i v o r c e , but as t h i s g i r l noted, the tendency to p r o t e c t seemed to extend the process o f s e p a r a t i o n f o r h e r . p: The har d e s t e i g h t months probably happened about h a l f a year a f t e r the s e p a r a t i o n , when t h i n g s were s t a r t e d to be d e a l t with, we were i n shock up ' t i l then, and then we got to d e a l with the a c t u a l i s s u e s . The d i v o r c e process c r e a t e d many p h y s i c a l l o s s e s f o r the g i r l s . Probably the g r e a t e s t l o s s was l o s i n g one parent from the home. r : How d i d you f e e l d u r i n g t h i s time? p: Kind of t o r n , because I wanted t o be with both of them, and yeah, i t ' s u p s e t t i n g . The l o s s of one parent d r a m a t i c a l l y a l t e r e d the dynamics of the home th a t the g i r l s were accustomed t o . The r e s u l t i n g home atmosphere o f t e n e n t a i l e d a d d i t i o n a l l o s s e s f o r the g i r l s . F i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s o f t e n c r e a t e d the need to change homes, and t h i s move sometimes r e s u l t e d i n changing s c h o o l s . Both of these l o s s e s c r e a t e d a l o s s of s t a b i l i t y and f a m i l i a r i t y f o r the g i r l s , and these l o s s e s were experienced as q u i t e t h r e a t e n i n g . I n t e r e s t i n g l y , the f a m i l y home was sometimes seen as r e p r e s e n t i n g such unhappy times t h a t the move from i t was welcomed. p: When the house was f i n a l l y s o l d we were k i n d o f g l a d t o be r i d of t h a t . We needed t o k i n d o f get r i d of the o l d house, so I don't r e a l l y miss t h a t because by the end i t rep r e s e n t e d more neg a t i v e t h i n g s than p o s i t i v e ones. 55 Another t y p i c a l l o s s d e s c r i b e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s was the l o s s o f t r a d i t i o n i n t h e i r f a m i l y . Many f a m i l i e s had t r a d i t i o n s t h a t were s p e c i a l to each f a m i l y and t h a t the g i r l s c h e r i s h e d . In p a r t i c u l a r the t r a d i t i o n s around Christmas were e s p e c i a l l y f e l t t o have been destroyed by the d i v o r c e . p: That was the ha r d e s t , Christmas, I grew t o hate Christmas. I always used to love i t , i t would be my f a v o u r i t e time of year. T r a d i t i o n , I was a very t r a d i t i o n a l person, e v e r y t h i n g had to be the same way, and i t wasn't r i g h t because l i k e you'd wake up f o r Christmas morning, and you know with Mum and Dad, and have your s t o c k i n g s and e v e r y t h i n g , and you'd have the December f i r s t dinner, and e v e r y t h i n g was t r a d i t i o n . So t h a t blew t r a d i t i o n f o r me and when t r a d i t i o n was gone, I d i d n ' t have anything e l s e because t h a t was Christmas f o r me, i t was f a m i l y , and i t was t r a d i t i o n . The d i v o r c e a l s o a f f e c t e d how the g i r l s came to see t h e i r f a m i l y ; t h e i r view of what a f a m i l y was. One p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e s how she f e a r e d t h a t she may not be able to f i n d happiness i n her new home, th a t her understanding of what a f a m i l y was d i d not match her present r e a l i t y . p: I t was a happy, secure f a m i l y with two parents and thre e k i d s and then t h a t wasn't there anymore. . . I saw i t as one u n i t and without i t being one u n i t I d i d n ' t know i f i t coul d be t r u e , i f we cou l d be happy. Some of the g i r l s took a long time t o accept the r e s u l t i n g f a m i l y they l i v e d i n , and i n p a r t i c u l a r the new home th a t the n o n - c u s t o d i a l parent made, e s p e c i a l l y i f there was a stepparen t and or s t e p c h i l d r e n i n v o l v e d . Although acceptance of t h e i r new f a m i l y was slow to develop f o r many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , t h e i r p r e s e n t sense of f a m i l y seems t o be a l l i e d t o t h a t of a d i v o r c e d home. My hunch had been t h a t the g i r l s ' f e e l i n g s o f l o s s around t h e i r s p l i t homes may have caused them to compare t h e i r homes to t h e i r f r i e n d s from non-divorced 56 homes. T h i s comparison, I had thought, c o u l d have c r e a t e d f e e l i n g s of envy and a deeper sense of l o s s . Only one p a r t i c i p a n t seemed to have experienced t h i s , and her ch i l d h o o d was p a r t i c u l a r l y u n s t a b l e and t r a u m a t i c . The other p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience was an i n t e r e s t i n g dichotomy. On the one hand, t h e i r l i v e s i n the p o s t - d i v o r c e homes were seen as normal, while on the other hand none wanted t h i s type of home f o r h e r s e l f . r : So your p i c t u r e then of a normal f a m i l y i s n ' t n e c e s s a r i l y t h a t of a whole one? p: Oh a normal f a m i l y - w e l l sure l i k e with a Mum and the whole b i t l i k e "Leave i t to Beaver". I t ' s j u s t t h a t , I guess I d i d n ' t r e a l l y know too many people l i k e t h a t . r : So l e t ' s say then a d i v o r c e d f a m i l y such as the one t h a t you grew up i n , you cou l d d e s c r i b e t h a t as your normal p i c t u r e of a f a m i l y growing up. p: No I wouldn't d e s c r i b e i t as a normal p i c t u r e . r : I'm wondering then what d i d you compare i t to? p: I don't know i f I even compared i t . My Mum was j u s t my f a m i l y and she was j u s t , you know, i t was my f a m i l y , i t was my Mum. Whenever anyone would ask who my parents were I would say my Mum because I l i v e with her and i t wasn't u n t i l t h i s year where I co n s i d e r e d t h i s (Dad's f a m i l y ) as my f a m i l y too. While most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s may have come to see the d i v o r c e d home as the norm f o r t h e i r view of f a m i l y , none wanted t h i s type of home f o r t h e i r c h i l d r e n , nor d i d any of them r e a l l y want t o f i l l of the r o l e of stepparent. p: E v e n t u a l l y I'm going to get married and t h a t w i l l be f i n e , but I won't ever have, I won't have k i d s u n t i l I'm sure of i t , I wouldn't ever want t o put my k i d s through t h a t . But d i v o r c e happens, t h a t ' s f i n e . But I s t i l l , i f I don't have t o I don't want t o put somebody e l s e through i t . A l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s e v e n t u a l l y came to accept the 57 d u a l homes t h a t are t y p i c a l o f d i v o r c e d f a m i l i e s , though f o r some g i r l s t h i s acceptance took most of t h e i r a d o l e s c e n t y e a r s . About h a l f of the g i r l s s t i l l f e e l t h a t t h e i r p a i n a s s o c i a t e d with the d i v o r c e has not been f u l l y h e a l e d . p: Well I s t i l l have a l o t of p a i n from the d i v o r c e and I f e e l there i s a l o t of very t e r r i b l e s i t u a t i o n s . One g i r l p o i g n a n t l y d e s c r i b e d how f o r her the d i v o r c e process had never r e a l l y ended. p: A l o t of people t h i n k t h a t d i v o r c e , w e l l t h a t ' s i t , but i t c a r r i e s on, l i k e the f i g h t s are s t i l l going on, and i t ' s d i f f i c u l t . Well, they hate each o t h e r . I t ' s hard. For the r e s t of the p a r t i c i p a n t s however, l i v i n g with the dual f a m i l y t y p i c a l of d i v o r c e d homes has become the norm. V i s i t i n g one parent on weekends, having the o p t i o n o f another parent t o l i v e with, s h a r i n g t h e i r parents with stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n , becoming accustomed t o stepparents and having new b r o t h e r s and s i s t e r s , l i v i n g with the t e n s i o n s between t h e i r p a r e n t s , have a l l become p a r t o f t h e i r normal l i v e s . A l l of the g i r l s b e l i e v e now, s e v e r a l years a f t e r t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e , t h a t the d i v o r c e was f o r the b e s t . The commitment to t h i s b e l i e f , however, v a r i e s i n degree among the p a r t i c i p a n t s . While a l l may agree t h a t i t i s b e t t e r f o r t h e i r p arents to l i v e a p a r t h a p p i l y than t o g e t h e r unhappily, some s t i l l wish t h a t t h e i r parents had t r i e d harder to l i v e t o g e t h e r h a p p i l y . Three of the p a r t i c i p a n t s p r e f e r t h e i r l i v e s now, and b e l i e v e t h a t the d i v o r c e gave them a b e t t e r l i f e than they would have experienced without i t . 53 p: I t h i n k i t ' s f o r the b e s t . I l i k e the way our l i v e s s o r t of turned out, how I've grown up now. I don't know how d i f f e r e n t i t would have been i f they'd been t o g e t h e r . I mean they wouldn't have been communicating, they would have been f i g h t i n g . My Mum probably wouldn't have been as happy and t h a t would have a f f e c t e d me. T h i s d i f f e r e n c e i n meaning around the d i v o r c e i s i l l u s t r a t e d b e s t v i a the process of r e s o l u t i o n . Some p a r t i c i p a n t s have moved through the three i n i t i a l processes and have managed to r e s o l v e the d i v o r c e experience. Others are s t i l l working on r e s o l v i n g f e e l i n g s of l o s s and i n j u s t i c e While some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s have come to see t h e i r a d o l e s c e n t years i n a d i v o r c e d home as p o s i t i v e ones, without e x c e p t i o n a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d the d i v o r c e of t h e i r p a r ents as a p e r v a s i v e and l a s t i n g e x p e r i e n c e . T h i s g i r l ' s comment i s t y p i c a l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' p e r s p e c t i v e . p: There's no p l a c e where i t hasn't a f f e c t e d . I t h i n k e v e r y t h i n g has been. I t h i n k i t a f f e c t e d e v e r y t h i n g i n the end. The Process of Adapting to Environmental Change Environmental changes encompass a number of t o p i c s t h a t a l l were based upon p h y s i c a l changes i n the c h i l d ' s environment. These concrete changes, such as the l o s s of one parent from the f a m i l y home, i n c l u s i o n of stepparents i n t o t h e i r l i v e s , moving homes, and f i n a n c i a l standing were g e n e r a l l y f o l l owed by p s y c h o l o g i c a l change f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t . Loss of one parent i n the home was o f t e n f o l l o w e d by an a l t e r e d r e l a t i o n s h i p with one or both p a r e n t s . 59 The a d d i t i o n of stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n g e n e r a l l y c r e a t e d a s h i f t i n the c h i l d ' s sense of f a m i l y . Changing homes and a decrease i n f a m i l y income c a l l e d f o r more a d a p t a t i o n f o r the c h i l d . The environmental changes g e n e r a l l y seemed to produce changes at a c o g n i t i v e l e v e l as w e l l . These c o g n i t i v e changes w i l l be explored i n g r e a t e r depth i n the f o l l o w i n g p r o c e s s , the process of l e a r n i n g and growing. T h i s p o r t i o n w i l l examine the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of environmental change and how they coped with these changes. There i s a s t r i k i n g s i m i l a r i t y of response among p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s p r o c e s s . The d i f f e r e n c e s seen here appear to be more a matter of degree. P o s s i b l y the i n i t i a l responses to change i n our environment i s a shared human r e a c t i o n . Most people tend to be uncomfortable with i n i t i a l change i n t h e i r l i v e s . We d i f f e r l a t e r i n our i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and a d a p t a t i o n to the event. The two t o p i c s of environmental change which the p a r t i c i p a n t s spoke at g r e a t e s t l e n g t h about i n c l u d e d how t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p had changed with one or both of t h e i r p a r e n t s , and how they f e l t about the a d d i t i o n of stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n to t h e i r f a m i l y . A l l p a r t i c i p a n t s agreed t h a t t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with one parent became c l o s e r and warmer a f t e r t h e i r parents d i v o r c e d . Which parent that was seemed to depend upon how the c h i l d viewed the f a m i l y dynamics, the p a r e n t s ' p e r s o n a l i t i e s , and how r e s p o n s i b i l i t y was a s s i g n e d f o r the d i v o r c e . One p a r t i c i p a n t , whose f a t h e r was abusive and v i o l e n t , chose to end a l l emotional t i e s with him and s e v e r e l y 60 r e s t r i c t e d a l l other c o n t a c t with him. This p a r t i c u l a r c h i l d was a l s o the only p a r t i c i p a n t who had no s i b l i n g s , and consequently these two f a c t o r s caused her experience t o be q u i t e d i f f e r e n t from the other p a r t i c i p a n t s . One of the most o u t s t a n d i n g d i f f e r e n c e s was the degree t o which t h i s young woman turned to her mother f o r support. For t h i s p a r t i c i p a n t , her mother was her onl y f a m i l i a l f i g u r e . As a r e s u l t , she was very p r o t e c t i v e of her r e l a t i o n s h i p with her mother, and deeply resented the i n t r u s i o n of her mother's male companions. T h i s g i r l ' s adjustment to her stepparent was marked with s t r i f e , anger and h u r t as she sought t o p r o t e c t the one f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p she had ever f e l t comfortable with, her r e l a t i o n s h i p with her mother alone. Over e i g h t years have passed s i n c e her pa r e n t s ' d i v o r c e , and as she remarks she s t i l l f e e l s a great d e a l o f p a i n around her r e l a t i o n s h i p with her mother. p: My Dad never upset me to make me cr y , except when we f i r s t l e f t him because I was s c a r e d . Eut he doesn't make me c r y , or anything emotional, I mean, i t ' s only, w e l l , my Mum does. I could j u s t bawl my eyes out when I t h i n k o f t h i n g s t h a t have bothered me. The m a j o r i t y of the g i r l s f e l t t h a t the d i v o r c e had spurred them to become c l o s e r to t h e i r f a t h e r s . Many of them d e s c r i b e d r e l a t i o n s h i p s p r i o r t o the d i v o r c e t h a t p o r t r a y e d t h e i r mother as t h e i r primary c a r e t a k e r , and t h e i r f a t h e r as a d i s t a n t , important person too busy t o spend time with h i s c h i l d r e n . The d i v o r c e a c t u a l l y f o r c e d the f a t h e r s and t h e i r c h i l d r e n to spend more time together, as most p a r t i c i p a n t s were expected to v i s i t t h e i r f a t h e r s on the weekends. Some of 61 the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n i t i a l l y fought t h i s arrangement, s a y i n g i t was too g r e a t a s a c r i f i c e of t h e i r time. A l l of these p a r t i c i p a n t s p e r s i s t e d however and now f e e l they have gained a c l o s e r , much warmer r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r f a t h e r s . p: I t h i n k i t (the r e l a t i o n s h i p ) has been a l t e r e d and I t h i n k i t ' s brought me c l o s e r to my Dad. . . C l o s e r to my Dad because l i k e I c o u l d n ' t even remember him b e f o r e . A r e l a t i o n s h i p with Dad then, I don't t h i n k I r e a l l y had one, you know f i v e or ten minutes of t a l k i n g then wasn't bad. But I don't remember having a r e a l l y good r e l a t i o n s h i p with him and now t h a t I see him i t ' s l i k e I t e l l him e v e r y t h i n g I have to t e l l . Another r e a c t i o n d e s c r i b e d by some p a r t i c i p a n t s was f e e l i n g as i f they had l o s t t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with one of t h e i r p a r e n t s , or as i f they had l o s t i t t e m p o r a r i l y . T h i s l o s s seemed to stem from a number of causes, the most prominent ones being blaming one parent f o r causing the d i v o r c e and h u r t i n g the other parent, f e e l i n g one parent had become an angry and b i t t e r person, or from a number of u n s p e c i f i e d f e e l i n g s of blame and anger. p: I took a l o t of her sadness, she v e h i c l e d her sadness at me a l o t and t h a t r e a l l y a f f e c t e d our r e l a t i o n s h i p . I ended up l e a v i n g and going to my Dad's because i t j u s t became very unreasonable, and t h a t was the sad p a r t , and the most t r a u m a t i c p a r t of t h i s whole s e p a r a t i o n f o r me. p: A f t e r the d i v o r c e I got to be r e a l l y c l o s e to my mother. I never r e a l l y saw her as a person before t h a t . I t was my Dad and he was God and my Mum was j u s t t h i s l i t t l e weakling who c o u l d n ' t s u r v i v e without him. . . I f e l t not t h a t c l o s e with my Dad f o r a while, I guess I had a l o t of anger a g a i n s t him. Another r e l a t i o n s h i p the m a j o r i t y of the p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t was a l t e r e d was t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r s i b l i n g s . By f a r the most common experience was one of growing c l o s e r to 62 t h e i r s i b l i n g s . Many p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t t h a t t h e i r s i b l i n g s a c t e d as an i n t e r i m f a m i l y f o r them f o r a time, p a r t i c u l a r l y when t h e i r parents had withdrawn w i t h i n themselves. Most p a r t i c i p a n t s s a i d they would have f e l t t e r r i b l y l o s t without t h e i r s i b l i n g s ' support. p: For my s i s t e r s and me we were very c l o s e . We almost walked around the house i n groups. We used each other a l o t i n t h a t way and t h a t s t r e n g t h was r e a l l y what we needed, and we depended on and r e a l l y helped us out. Another r e a c t i o n i s what I d e s c r i b e as forming enemy camps. In s i t u a t i o n s Where one s i b l i n g s i d e d with one parent, and the other s i b l i n g s s i d e d with the other parent, there evolved f e e l i n g s of h o s t i l i t y and m i s t r u s t amongst the s i b l i n g s . p: She (Mum) could t a l k to me and I wanted her to be able to t a l k to me, where she cou l d n ' t t a l k to my s i s t e r . My s i s t e r and her have a l o t of problems and she r e a l l y got h u r t . And so I have a l o t of problems with t h a t , a l o t of f e e l i n g s towards my s i s t e r too f o r the way she t r e a t e d my mum, but i t was my Dad's i n f l u e n c e on her. The i n t r o d u c t i o n of stepparents t o the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' f a m i l i e s c r e a t e d a l o t of a d d i t i o n a l s t r e s s e s f o r the g i r l s . A l l but one p a r t i c i p a n t had numerous s t o r i e s to t e l l of some ignominious conduct they had witnessed being committed by t h e i r stepparents or pa r e n t s ' companions. T h e i r f e e l i n g s surrounding the a d d i t i o n of stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n seemed t o stem from f e e l i n g s of j e a l o u s y , on the p a r t of both the c h i l d r e n and the s t e p p a r e n t s . The f e e l i n g of j e a l o u s y seemed t o be based upon two r e a c t i o n s . F i r s t , the c h i l d r e n had r a t i o n a l i z e d t h e i r f e e l i n g s of l o s s and abandonment from one parent l e a v i n g . They understood t h a t the parent was l e a v i n g not them, but t h e i r spouse. However once one parent 63 began to devote time and energy to a new companion, t h i s seems to have been i n t e r p r e t e d as the f i n a l abandonment. In r e a l i t y , the p a r e n t s ' companions d i d r e q u i r e much more of the p a r e n t s ' time, and i t seems they were a l s o o f t e n j e a l o u s of the time t h e i r new l o v e r was d e v o t i n g to t h e i r c h i l d r e n . As one c h i l d commented, p: She probably never would admit to i t but she was j e a l o u s of us because she c o u l d n ' t c r e a t e a secluded l i t t l e foursome, her two k i d s and my dad and h e r . I t ' s s t i l l t h e r e , I remember my l i t t l e s i s t e r , i t r e a l l y h u r t s her when they p l a n h o l i d a y s j u s t the four of them t o g e t h e r . Another g i r l d e s c r i b e s how h u r t she f e l t when her mother s i d e d with her l o v e r i n s t e a d of with he r . p: So we a l l s a t around the t a b l e , (and he s a i d ) i f anyone's l e a v i n g t h i s house i t ' s going to be you, and my Mum d i d n ' t say anything, she j u s t s a t there and she never s a i d a n y t h i n g . Her and I used to be c l o s e , r e a l l y c l o s e , and i t ' s k i n d of r e a l l y put a wedge i n there, i t w i l l probably take a while to get over. Another g i r l f e l t t h a t the a d d i t i o n of stepparents was the b i g g e s t change i n the whole d i v o r c e process t h a t she had to adapt t o . p: The d i v o r c e was a change but I t h i n k the b i g g e s t change f o r me wasn't the d i v o r c e i t was the two years l a t e r when there was the s t e p p a r e n t s , t h a t was the most d i f f i c u l t p a r t . The other f a c t o r behind the c h i l d r e n ' s f e e l i n g of j e a l o u s y seems to be based upon t h e i r p s y c h o l o g i c a l p i c t u r e of t h e i r f a m i l y . P a r t of t h i s p i c t u r e i n c l u d e s p l a c i n g boundaries around what c o n s t i t u t e s t h e i r i d e a of t h e i r f a m i l y . Stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n are an i n t r u s i o n i n t o t h i s boundary. The p a r t i c i p a n t s seem to f e e l t h a t i t was one d e c i s i o n to l e t a parent leave from t h e i r f a m i l y , but a very d i f f e r e n t one to a l l o w people i n . The g i r l s n a t u r a l l y f e l t 64 t h a t they should have some say i n who would be p a r t of t h e i r f a m i l y . They f e l t , when t h e i r p a r e nts' companions moved i n , as i f t h e i r p e r s o n a l boundaries were being v i o l a t e d by the i n t r u s i o n of s t r a n g e r s . T h i s , to them, seemed to be the f i n a l a f f r o n t t o t h e i r sense of f a m i l y , and they were not w i l l i n g to g i v e up t h i s sense without a f i g h t . The a d d i t i o n of s t e p c h i l d r e n and h a l f - b r o t h e r s and h a l f - s i s t e r s r e a l l y h e l p e d t o i l l u s t r a t e the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' r e l u c t a n c e i n a l l o w i n g new members i n t o t h e i r f a m i l i e s . r : Can you d e s c r i b e your adjustment to accept s t e p b r o t h e r s and s t e p s i s t e r s , h a l f - b r o t h e r s and h a l f - s i s t e r s ? p: Yeah, t h a t was r e a l l y hard, at f i r s t I r e f u s e d to c a l l - my s i s t e r . . . I found i t d i f f i c u l t , but you know, with a - year o l d she was so e x c i t e d . How do you e x p l a i n (to p e o p l e ) , because she never s a i d s t e p s i s t e r s . L i k e , i t i s my Dad's wi f e ' s daughter. I couldn't accept t h a t she was a c t u a l l y r e l a t e d to me. Another p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e s how she keeps the boundaries around her own f a m i l y through the t i t l e s she a s s i g n s t o people. r : I t ' s important t o you to keep those boundaries? p: Yeah, I t h i n k so. I do, but l i k e w e l l I never t e l l anybody a c t u a l l y . I never r e f e r t o them as my s t e p b r o t h e r s or s i s t e r s , they're my Dad's g i r l f r i e n d ' s k i d s , and I don't mind having my Dad's g i r l f r i e n d ' s k i d s . Once the p a r t i c i p a n t s g r a d u a l l y became accustomed to the r e a l i t y o f stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n , they became more sanguine to the i d e a of expanding t h e i r p i c t u r e of t h e i r f a m i l y t o i n c l u d e a few more. Most p a r t i c i p a n t s were more w i l l i n g to i n c l u d e t h e i r new s t e p b r o t h e r s and s t e p s i s t e r s , and e s p e c i a l l y t h e i r h a l f - b r o t h e r s and h a l f - s i s t e r s . The one p a r t i c i p a n t who had no s i b l i n g s g e n u i n e l y loved her 65 h a l f - b r o t h e r and h a l f - s i s t e r . The lone p a r t i c i p a n t who r e a d i l y accepted the a d d i t i o n of a stepmother a l s o was very keen on the a d d i t i o n of s t e p c h i l d r e n . Moving homes i s a b i g change f o r most people. For those p a r t i c i p a n t s who d i d move, and t h i s d e s c r i b e d about 75% of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , i t was one more s t r e s s i n an a l r e a d y s t r a i n e d adolescence. r : You changed homes a couple of times, was t h a t very u n s e t t l i n g ? p: Very u n s e t t l i n g , i t ' s amazing how much a house r e a l l y r e p r e s e n t s to you, you know having your own p l a c e . The s p l i t of t h e i r parents o f t e n meant that the p a r t i c i p a n t s now had the o p t i o n of l i v i n g with e i t h e r parent. While t h i s doesn't d e s c r i b e a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e x p e r iences, some p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d t h i s new o p t i o n as g i v i n g them a type of b a r g a i n i n g power. When t e n s i o n s rose i n one home, the g i r l s knew they were welcome at t h e i r other parents' home. Thi s very r e a l power a l t e r e d the dynamics of t h e i r c u s t o d i a l home. Some g i r l s f e l t t h a t t h e i r parents t r i e d to encourage them to stay by buying them t h i n g s . The other a l t e r n a t i v e was f o r the c u s t o d i a l parent to c a l l the g i r l ' s b l u f f , and t h i s was experienced by some as h u r t f u l , by others as expected. r : The c h i l d f o r the f i r s t time has r e a l b a r g a i n i n g power, do you know what I mean by t h a t ? p: You mean t h a t you can decide where you l i v e and i t o f t e n comes up and i t does, i t ' s l i k e w e l l i f you don't do t h i s f o r me I ' l l go l i v e with Dad. r : Right. p: (laughing) I t happens a l l the time. The g i r l s a l s o d e s c r i b e d a type of h o l i d a y phenomenon 66 t h a t o c c u r r e d when v i s i t i n g the n o n - c u s t o d i a l parent. When I used the somewhat ambiguous phrase of h o l i d a y phenomenon to d e s c r i b e t h i s experience, the g i r l s f o r whom t h i s phrase f i t understood what I meant by i t immediately. p: I was k i n d of r e b e l l i n g a g a i n s t my Dad and I thought, oh, i t w i l l p r obably be b e t t e r at Mum's because, i t ' s a l o t d i f f e r e n t when you v i s i t than when you l i v e with them, i t ' s so d i f f e r e n t when you s t a r t to l i v e with them. D i f f e r e n c e s i n f i n a n c i a l s t a t u s a f f e c t e d the h o l i d a y phenomenon. L i f e was more p l e a s a n t a t the parent's home who cou l d a f f o r d the f i n e r t h i n g s i n l i f e . T h i s g e n e r a l l y was the f a t h e r ' s home, and while the g i r l s were aware of t h i s d i f f e r e n c e i n f i n a n c i a l s t a t u s , none would have chosen to have l i v e d with one parent on the b a s i s of t h i s i n e q u i t y alone. The more t y p i c a l r e a c t i o n was probably one of resentment toward t h e i r f a t h e r s f o r not having f i n a n c i a l l y supported t h e i r mothers more r e s p o n s i b l y . But t h i s resentment was s u r p r i s i n g l y not very deeply rooted, and the g i r l s were r e l u c t a n t to d e s c r i b e t h e i r f e e l i n g s as resentment. Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d l i v i n g a more f r u g a l e x i s t e n c e s i n c e the d i v o r c e , but t h e i r f e e l i n g around t h i s change i n t h e i r standard o f l i v i n g seemed to be a commitment to themselves to ensure t h a t they would not be as f i n a n c i a l l y dependent as t h e i r mothers, or adm i r a t i o n of t h e i r mothers f o r having coped as w e l l as they had. Many of the g i r l s f e l t t h a t t h e i r mothers had been o u t s t a n d i n g r o l e models i n t h e i r a b i l i t y t o pro v i d e f i n a n c i a l l y f o r a f a m i l y . The g i r l s who f e l t t h a t t h e i r mothers had s u f f e r e d from being dependent were deeply committed t o t h e i r own f i n a n c i a l independence. 67 p: I guess I t r y "hard and my g o a l s are I w i l l have a good job because I don't ever want to end up l i k e my Mum, s t r u g g l i n g f o r money and having to beg my Dad f o r money sometimes. I t h i n k t h a t ' s so d i s g u s t i n g , I won't ever have to go through t h a t . Changing homes sometimes r e q u i r e d changing s c h o o l s , and t h i s was experienced as even more t h r e a t e n i n g than changing homes. F o r t u n a t e l y only two of the p a r t i c i p a n t s were r e q u i r e d to change schools because of the d i v o r c e . One of these however had to change s c h o o l s many times, and as a r e s u l t her grades were poor and she never completed Grade 12. p: I wanted to have a great t h i n g l i k e t h a t ( s c h o o l ) , but i t never, i t j u s t seemed too hard once i t a l l happened to j u s t keep i t going, l i k e t o keep going at i t . I t was j u s t too hard to get back on t r a c k . In summary, the g i r l s a d a p t a b i l i t y to the many changes they endured as a d o l e s c e n t s i s remarkable. That these s t r e s s e s arose d u r i n g an a l r e a d y s t r e s s f u l time i n t h e i r l i v e s , adolescence, makes i t p a r t i c u l a r l y remarkable. There i s an o l d s a y i n g t h a t s t a t e s t h a t times change and we change with them, but as one p a r t i c i p a n t commented, "there are o n l y so many adjustments you can make at one time." The L e a r n i n g and Growing Process C a r l Jung once commented t h a t "the growth of the mind i s the widening of the range of consciousness, and . . . each step forward has been a most p a i n f u l and l a b o r i o u s achievement" (1928, p. 340). The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study made many steps forward i n m a t u r i t y and i n t h e i r knowledge of l i f e , but these steps were, f o r most of the 68 g i r l s , a s t r u g g l e . I t was a s t r u g g l e i n t h a t they endured a type of l o s s of innocence at an age e a r l i e r than most c h i l d r e n undergo t h i s t r a n s f o r m i n g experience. T h e i r world which had o r i g i n a l l y been f o r most, happy and s a f e , suddenly changed and was no longer the world of t h e i r c h i l d h o o d . The suddenness of t h i s l o s s was f o r some the most d i f f i c u l t to r e s o l v e . T h e i r worlds became c o n f u s i n g , t h e i r r e a l i t y q u e s t i o n a b l e , and l i f e u n p r e d i c t a b l e . A few s t r u g g l e d with an almost Kafkaesque view of the world and t h i s view took c o n s i d e r a b l e emotional and c o g n i t i v e energy to r e s o l v e . Three c e n t r a l t o p i c s d e s c r i b e the l e a r n i n g and growing process t h a t went on f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s : coming to terms with l o s i n g the world they had known, how they made sense of i t , and coming to terms with an i n t e n s i f i e d adolescence. A l l but one g i r l l o s t a world t h a t they had known and t r u s t e d . The e x c e p t i o n was a p a r t i c i p a n t whose world had been so f r i g h t e n i n g and u n s t a b l e t h a t l e a v i n g i t was moving toward s t a b i l i t y . Her experiences of the few years f o l l o w i n g her p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e was a c h a o t i c one because of her f a t h e r ' s v i o l e n t and u n p r e d i c t a b l e behaviour. Her f a t h e r f o l l o w e d her mother and h e r s e l f , wrecking t h e i r c ars and homes and making t h r e a t e n i n g phone c a l l s . She l i v e d a h e l l i s h c h i l d h o o d and e a r l y adolescence, and o n l y began to f i n d a s t a b l e world i n l a t e r adolescence. T h i s s t a b i l i t y was s h o r t - l i v e d , however, as she f e l t t h a t her mother's male companions i n t r u d e d i n t o t h i s s t a b i l i t y , and c r e a t e d another world of chaos f o r h e r . Understandably, t h i s p a r t i c i p a n t i s s t i l l s t r u g g l i n g with many i s s u e s . Recently, s i n c e she has begun to l i v e on her own she 69 f e e l s t h a t she i s now beginning t o make the home f o r h e r s e l f t h a t she never had as a c h i l d , and i s moving slowly toward r e s o l u t i o n and growth. T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t ' s experience was u n l i k e any of the other p a r t i c i p a n t s , and her c h a o t i c c h i l d h o o d p r o v i d e s an e x c e l l e n t b a s i s of comparison of the other p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e x p e r i e n c e . T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t commented th a t her own experience was probably e a s i e r to r e s o l v e than someone who had l o s t a s t a b l e and p r e d i c t a b l e world. p: I would be t o t a l l y shocked i f I had a r e a l l y happy l i f e and then a l l of a sudden boom, your parents are d i v o r c e d . L i k e you d i d n ' t know anything, t h a t would probably even be har d e r . Well, i t would probably be harder, i f you t h i n k t h a t you have the n i c e l i f e and i t j u s t gets p u l l e d away and you don't know why. Th i s g i r l has a profound knowledge of what l i f e i s l i k e without s t a b i l i t y , and i s able to understand the e f f e c t o f l o s i n g one's s t a b i l i t y . A l l but two of the r e s t of the p a r t i c i p a n t s came to experience the l o s s of t h e i r s t a b l e world as w e l l . The e x c e p t i o n was two s i s t e r s who both f e l t t h a t t h e i r world was r e l a t i v e l y u n a f f e c t e d by the d i v o r c e . T h e i r f a t h e r was only somewhat more absent a f t e r the d i v o r c e than he had been when he l i v e d with them, and otherwise t h e i r world remained about the same. The r e s t of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t e r p r e t e d the l o s s of the world they had known i n s i m i l a r ways. Many d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g h e l p l e s s and as i f they suddenly had no c o n t r o l over t h e i r world. Others denied or repressed the f e e l i n g s t h e i r s i t u a t i o n c r e a t e d . 70 p: I guess t h a t ' s what I d i d with the d i v o r c e , i s t h a t I shut myself out and I d i d n ' t want t o hear about i t , and I d i d n ' t want to b e l i e v e t h a t i t was r e a l . Many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s have v i v i d memories of t h e i r r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t the world they had known was gone f o r them. p: Our f a m i l y was warm, c a r i n g , we had a r e a l l y good time, i t was fun being a k i d , having t h a t warmth, t h a t ' s what f a m i l y i s . That warmth comes from a f a m i l y and i t ' s p a r t l y u n d e s c r i b a b l e , i t ' s l i k e a warm rush over you, you know, and then when that i s a l l of a sudden ended, you don't r e a l i z e t h a t i t ' s ended. . .So i t ' s s c a r y when i t breaks apar t and i t ' s t h r e a t e n i n g . Parents who had had an a f f a i r , or whose behaviour the c h i l d r e n considered q u e s t i o n a b l e , was a l s o seen as h i g h l y t h r e a t e n i n g . p: I couldn't handle i t , l i k e Dad shouldn't be with her (stepmother), i t was j u s t , i t was immoral. . . I d i d n ' t know what t o t h i n k anymore. . .To me he had t o t a l l y blown e v e r y t h i n g t h a t I b e l i e v e d t o t a l l y out of the water. Three other p a r t i c i p a n t s suspected t h a t t h e i r parents had had a f f a i r s p r i o r to or du r i n g the d i v o r c e , and t h i s knowledge seemed t o be so t h r e a t e n i n g t h a t I found the g i r l s u n w i l l i n g to d i s c u s s the s u b j e c t . One g i r l , when I asked s e v e r a l times what the knowledge of her mother having had an a f f a i r would mean to her, answered by denying i t s p o s s i b i l i t y . I f e l t t h a t the n o t i o n was too t h r e a t e n i n g f o r her to c o n s i d e r . The g i r l s who were w i l l i n g to acknowledge t h e i r p a r e nts' a f f a i r s or intemperate behaviours found t h a t they began to q u e s t i o n t h e i r own b e l i e f systems. L o g i c a l l y , they thought, "my parents have t o l d me behaviour such as t h i s i s wrong, y e t they are engaged i n i t , so what i s wrong?" This q u e s t i o n i n g p e r i o d was a c o n f u s i n g time f o r them, and occurred d u r i n g an a l r e a d y unstable p e r i o d i n t h e i r l i v e s . A l l p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t 71 t h a t though t h i s was a co n f u s i n g , t r o u b l i n g time f o r them they now f e e l they have gained g r e a t e r i n s i g h t through i t s o c c u r r e n c e . The m a j o r i t y of p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t t h a t they were not able to d i s c u s s t h e i r c o n f u s i o n and anger about the d i v o r c e with t h e i r parents or s i b l i n g s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d wanting to be able to d i s c u s s the d i v o r c e with t h e i r parents, and even b e i n g encouraged by t h e i r parents to do so, but then f i n d i n g t h a t i t was too e m o t i o n a l l y charged to t a l k about with them and t h a t t h e i r parents were unable t o achieve the i m p a r t i a l i t y they promised they c o u l d . p: But we don't t a l k about i t . I can't t a l k to my Mum because she hates my Dad so much, and I can't t a l k about i t to my Dad because he hates my Mum so much. p: I mean I even f e l t i t when I was i n the house, t h a t I c o u l d n ' t say such and such a t h i n g and I couldn't be my own person. I had to be t h i s , you know, t h i s l i t t l e box (of guarded statements), yeah, and even though she t r i e d and she would say to me, oh I r e a l l y want you to be able to t a l k about - (stepmother) and I would, and she'd wince, or she'd be very s i l e n t . That was even harder because I'm very s e n s i t i v e with her and you know body movement, I know my Mum r i g h t , even though she's q u i e t she tenses up and I can't t a l k about i t . Many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g very alone and confused d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d because of t h e i r d i s c o m f o r t t a l k i n g to t h e i r parents about the d i v o r c e . As w e l l , one p a r t i c i p a n t s a i d t h a t these i n t e r v i e w s with me were the f i r s t time she had ever r e a l l y t a l k e d about the d i v o r c e . Another g i r l s a i d she d i d not t h i n k she had any i n s i g h t s to o f f e r on the s u b j e c t , and a t the end of the i n t e r v i e w remarked how s u r p r i s e d she was a t how much she had had to say. The p a r t i c i p a n t s worked at making sense of the d i v o r c e i n 72 a number of ways. One p a r t i c i p a n t accepted her f a t h e r ' s c h o i c e to leave soon a f t e r i t happened, and through her acceptance f e e l s she has avoided much of the p a i n her s i s t e r endured. Other p a r t i c i p a n t s clung to t h e i r f e e l i n g s of anger and sadness f o r years, and s t i l l h o l d f e e l i n g s of blame toward one parent and f e e l i n g s of abandonment. Another common theme shared by most p a r t i c i p a n t s i s d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g p eople. I was s u r p r i s e d at how c o n s i s t e n t t h i s theme was among the p a r t i c i p a n t s , and how these p a r t i c i p a n t s c o n s i s t e n t l y t r a c e d i t s occurrence to having experienced d i v o r c e i n t h e i r home. p: I guess I don't t r u s t people because I counted on my parents and then they d i v o r c e d . They were people I counted on s o r t of and then they were so busy l o o k i n g a f t e r t h e i r concerns t h a t I f e l t l i k e they had l e f t , and I t r u s t e d them to be t h e r e . That's more why I wouldn't t r u s t them, everybody t h a t I counted on had s o r t of gone. p: Whereas i t ' s taught me to s o r t of not t r u s t a n y t h i n g , l i k e I'm r e a l l y a f r a i d of g e t t i n g i n t o a r e l a t i o n s h i p . p: I have a hard time t r u s t i n g people, but even with my roommate l i k e we're r e a l l y c l o s e and I t a l k to her now but i t took me a long time b e f o r e I got c l o s e because everytime something always happened. . . I don't t h i n k I'm not ever going to be able to t r u s t anybody, which I can, I mean I can t r u s t people, i t j u s t takes me a l i t t l e , a l i t t l e g r a d u a l , I go slower. These g i r l s a l l say t h a t they do not t r u s t l i k e t h e i r f r i e n d s from non-divorced homes do. They f e e l more w o r l d l y , c a u t i o u s , and f e e l t h a t they have experienced more p a i n than t h e i r f r i e n d s . 73 p: I n s i d e a l o t of me s o r t of looks at the world as s o r t of gray, and there are t h i n g s t h a t k i d s haven't experienced l i k e I have. They t h i n k e v e r y t h i n g i s wonderful out t h e r e and nothing can h u r t , and i n s i d e I know t h a t ' s not t r u e . Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s see t h e i r world as an u n p r e d i c t a b l e p l a c e . T h i s seems to be the r e s u l t of t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n t h a t people are not always trus t w o r t h y and t h a t one's world can change o v e r n i g h t . One p a r t i c i p a n t does not seem as committed to t h i s view. T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t was probably the one p a r t i c i p a n t who enjoyed the g r e a t e s t s e c u r i t y and was the most p r o t e c t e d throughout her p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . T h i s i s a l s o the one p a r t i c i p a n t who d i d not f e e l t h a t she was more mature or w o r l d l y than her f r i e n d s . T h i s d i f f e r e n c e suggests t h a t the d i v o r c e d i d not provoke the same degree of emotional growth w i t h i n her t h a t the other p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d as having occurred f o r them. Th i s p a r t i c u l a r p a r t i c i p a n t ' s sense of s t a b i l i t y seems to have stemmed from a number of causes. Both t h i s p a r t i c i p a n t and her s i s t e r f e l t t h a t t h e i r mother had been able to c r e a t e a l o v i n g , happy home f o r them both b e f o r e and a f t e r the d i v o r c e . T h e i r mother had been the a d u l t r e s p o n s i b l e f o r p a r e n t i n g i n t h e i r home, while t h e i r f a t h e r had been o f t e n absent or l e s s i n v o l v e d i n p a r e n t i n g . The l o s s of t h e i r f a t h e r from t h e i r home consequently was not p e r c e i v e d as a d e v a s t a t i n g l o s s . As w e l l , the d i v o r c e seemed to have spurred the f a t h e r to become more i n v o l v e d with h i s c h i l d r e n . In a sense the d i v o r c e c r e a t e d f o r the s i s t e r s the g a i n of t h e i r f a t h e r as opposed to h i s l o s s . 74 T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t was a l s o the middle c h i l d , and f e l t t h a t she was p r o t e c t e d and supported by both her o l d e r s i s t e r and her mother. Her o l d e r s i s t e r seemed much more aware of the p a i n her mother had s u f f e r e d through the d i v o r c e , and aware of her own f e e l i n g s . I t was as i f the o l d e r s i s t e r had been on the f r o n t l i n e of the d i v o r c e , while the younger p a r t i c i p a n t had enjoyed a g r e a t e r degree of s h e l t e r from the emotional s t r a i n c r e a t e d by the d i v o r c e . S t i l l , i t was my hunch t h a t t h i s younger p a r t i c i p a n t had avoided thoroughly e x p l o r i n g her f e e l i n g s around the d i v o r c e , and tended to t r y to onl y see the p o s i t i v e s i d e of the d i v o r c e . I was u n s u c c e s s f u l i n encouraging her to ex p l o r e the p o s s i b i l i t y of the e x i s t e n c e of some ambivalent f e e l i n g s For the other p a r t i c i p a n t s though, the world came to be seen as an u n p r e d i c t a b l e p l a c e . I n t e r p r e t i n g t h e i r world i n t h i s way, and f e e l i n g as i f they had l i t t l e c o n t r o l over i t caused many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s to q u e s t i o n t h e i r sense of r e a l i t y . p: My memories of my f a m i l y l i k e when I was f i v e i s st r o n g and p o s i t i v e and so when t h a t ' s threatened a l l of a sudden there i s a l o t of doubt and you don't know what i s true and what's not tr u e . . . So i t ' s s c a r y when i t breaks apa r t and i t ' s t h r e a t e n i n g and you don't know i f i t was t r u e or i f i t wasn't t r u e . p: J u s t t h a t e v e r y t h i n g ' s not p r e d i c t a b l e , l i k e I fought i t f o r a long time and I d i d n ' t want to accept i t , I d i d n ' t f e e l comfortable with i t . Seeing the world as an u n p r e d i c t a b l e p l a c e a l s o a f f e c t e d the g i r l s ' views on t h e i r own r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Most f e l t they 75 had d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s and were f r i g h t e n e d of d i v o r c e o c c u r r i n g i n t h e i r l i v e s a l s o . p: Our r e l a t i o n s h i p s and how we view r e l a t i o n s h i p s has to a l t e r because we saw a r e l a t i o n s h i p working, and not working or never working or whatever, and so when you see your p a r e n t s , the one t h i n g t h a t ' s supposed to be s t a b l e , not working then t h e r e ' s a l o t of doubt t h a t i t ever can. So, i f a f t e r twenty years t h e i r ' s can't work i s there ever going t o be a r i g h t person you know. I t i s perhaps because they f e l t l i f e was so u n p r e d i c t a b l e t h a t the need to f e e l i n c o n t r o l was so important an i s s u e f o r every p a r t i c i p a n t . A l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s s a i d t h a t i t was important f o r them to f e e l i n c o n t r o l , and many s a i d t h a t t h e i r f r i e n d s c a l l e d them bossy. p: C o n t r o l i s important and I've always fought f o r i t , l i k e my independence, where I want c o n t r o l over my l i f e and I guess i t has been a b i g t h i n g t h a t I l i k e t o be i n charge. People t e l l me I'm bossy but I always l i k e to be i n charge so t h a t nothing i s going t o go wrong. p: Oh yeah, I always have t o be i n c o n t r o l , I don't l i k e f e e l i n g h e l p l e s s . r : So much i n c o n t r o l , you want t o f e e l c o n t r o l over how your Mum f e e l s , you want to p r o t e c t her? p: I would take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r e v e r y t h i n g and everybody i f I cou l d , you know. Thi s need to c o n t r o l manifested i t s e l f i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' r e l a t i o n s h i p s . In p a r t i c u l a r the g i r l s d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g i n s e c u r e i n male/female r e l a t i o n s h i p s . p: You can't even c o n t r o l your husband, who i s supposed t o be with you the r e s t of your l i f e , he c o u l d go out and have an a f f a i r , and you know, I hate t h a t f e e l i n g . I t i s j u s t an awful f e e l i n g of b e t r a y a l and r e j e c t i o n , i t ' s j u s t something t h a t I remember t a l k i n g t o you about. I t i s something t h a t i s r e a l l y b i g f o r me i n l i f e , and I have a r e a l h a r d time coping with t h a t . 76 T h i s need to f e e l i n c o n t r o l leads to an i n t e r e s t i n g dichotomy f o r the g i r l s . On the one hand, they r e c o g n i z e the need to be f l e x i b l e i n an u n p r e d i c t a b l e world. On the other hand, they have found t h a t the need to f e e l i n c o n t r o l p r o t e c t s them from f a c i n g an otherwise t h r e a t e n i n g view of the world. How to r e s o l v e t h i s dichotomy has been the focus of many of these g i r l s a d o l e s c e n t years, and w i l l be examined i n the f o l l o w i n g process of r e s o l u t i o n . I t h i n k i t important to note though that these g i r l s have been s t r u g g l i n g with i s s u e s t h a t many i n d i v i d u a l s do not explore u n t i l l a t e r i n l i f e . Another i s s u e which was r a i s e d by many p a r t i c i p a n t s was how they f e l t t h a t the normal developmental p a t t e r n of adolescence had been i n many ways i n t e n s i f i e d . I t was l i k e , i n a sense, e x p e r i e n c i n g adolescence e x p o n e n t i a l l y . Many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d engaging i n r e b e l l i o u s behaviour f o r a few years a f t e r the d i v o r c e , growing more independent from t h e i r parents, f e e l i n g confused over t h e i r p a r e n t s ' f a l l i b i l i t y , and t u r n i n g more to t h e i r f r i e n d s f o r companionship. None of the g i r l s were r e a l l y sure though whether t h i s was simply a normal p a r t of t h e i r adolescence, or whether the d i v o r c e p r e c i p i t a t e d more pronounced a d o l e s c e n t behaviours, such as r e b e l l i o n . Some suspected t h a t the l a t t e r case was more c o r r e c t . p: Yeah, but i t seemed to be worse, l i k e t o a worse degree than normal adolescence. L i k e you look at other k i d s i n normal homes, they were r e b e l l i o u s but not q u i t e to t h a t extent, whereas w e l l we went through years where you got up i n the morning, there was a f i g h t about what time you got up; what's f o r b r e a k f a s t , there was a f i g h t about what we c o u l d eat; about g e t t i n g dressed, what you were wearing, how long you took i n the shower. 77 Adolescence can be d e s c r i b e d as a p e r i o d i n youngster's l i v e s where s e p a r a t i o n and disengagement from t h e i r parents i s a c e n t r a l concern f o r them (Rice, 1981). Divorce has a tremendous e f f e c t upon t h i s s e p a r a t i o n process, I b e l i e v e , because i t p r e c i p i t a t e s the s e p a r a t i o n process at an unnatural r a t e f o r the ad o l e s c e n t c h i l d . Most c h i l d r e n enjoy the o p p o r t u n i t y t o disengage e m o t i o n a l l y and p h y s i c a l l y from t h e i r p a r ents a t a r a t e which c o i n c i d e s with t h e i r m a t u r a t i o n a l development. The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study d e s c r i b e d how the p h y s i c a l s e p a r a t i o n from one parent c o u l d a f f e c t t h e i r sense of s e c u r i t y and cause an unnatural and premature s e p a r a t i o n between themselves and one or both of t h e i r p a r e n t s . p: I t h i n k t h a t ' s when they need i t ( f a m i l y ) the most. I t h i n k t h a t was the time when I probably needed a mother the most. Although I wanted to separate from my f a m i l y then but you need to know i t ' s there, you need to know t h a t t h a t base i s t h e r e and t h a t you can separate from i t , when somebody suddenly says but the base i s no longer t h e r e . Then you don't know what to s o r t of step o f f from and without a s t a i r you can't climb upwards. Many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t t h a t they grew up too q u i c k l y , and t h a t they l o s t having a parent to nurture them and g i v e them d i r e c t i o n sooner than they would have normally. p: I f e l t l i k e a whole b i g t h i n g had been dropped on me and I had to d e a l with i t then r e a l quick, and I t h i n k i t had a l o t t o do with i t . I s o r t of r e s e n t t h a t , the f a c t t h a t I had t o grow up q u i c k e r . p: I t ' s hard t o balance, I mean even now I don't want to , I h a l f want her to t r e a t me l i k e an a d u l t , and t r e a t me l i k e a l i t t l e k i d , you know l i k e t o be there and mother me as w e l l as I want her to r e s p e c t me and know t h a t no i t ' s not Dad who's brainwashing me. 78 p: I t h i n k t h a t i t j u s t happened t h a t I was at the r i g h t age and I needed my Mum at t h a t age because I needed to p u l l away from her. I b e l i e v e t h a t c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes l o s e t h e i r innocence sooner than most c h i l d r e n . I t h i n k t h i s i s i l l u s t r a t e d by the i n s i g h t these g i r l s have shown i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s with t h e i r p arents, and from t h e i r own emotional growth. In the next process, the process of r e s o l u t i o n , i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to see how the g i r l s undergo a p s y c h o l o g i c a l journey which a l t e r s t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n of l i f e . Authors such as Blake and Dickens would argue t h a t to f a l l from innocence, though p a i n f u l , i s p r e f e r a b l e to ignorance of experience. I t seems t h a t these g i r l s would a l s o agree with t h i s p h i l o s o p h y . The Process of R e s t r u c t u r i n g Meaning and Moving Toward R e s o l u t i o n The experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e i s d e s c r i b e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s as an i n t e n s e and p e r v a s i v e experience. The i n t e n s i t y of the experience n a t u r a l l y fades with time. The p e r v a s i v e n e s s of the experience however manifests i t s e l f i n more l a s t i n g ways. In p a r t i c u l a r , the experience of the d i v o r c e u l t i m a t e l y a f f e c t s how the i n d i v i d u a l comes to construe h i s or her world. George K e l l y d e s c r i b e s how p e r c e p t i o n and r e a l i t y are shaped by how the i n d i v i d u a l r e p r e s e n t s them. I n d i v i d u a l s have a " c r e a t i v e c a p a c i t y . . . to r e p r e s e n t the environment, not merely to respond to i t . Because [people] can r e p r e s e n t 79 [ t h e i r ] environment, [they] can p l a c e a l t e r n a t i v e c o n s t r u c t i o n s upon i t and, indeed, do something about i t i f i t doesn't s u i t [them] ( c i t e d i n Ivey & Simek-Downing, 1980; p. 136). The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study responded i n i t i a l l y i n many s i m i l a r ways to t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e and the p h y s i c a l changes the d i v o r c e e n t a i l e d . These s i m i l a r i t i e s suggest t h a t g e n e r a l l y the p a r t i c i p a n t s construed and responded to t h e i r worlds i n a s i m i l a r p a t t e r n . F o l l o w i n g the i n i t i a l experience of the d i v o r c e , a d j u s t i n g to the p h y s i c a l changes the d i v o r c e e n t a i l e d seems to have r e q u i r e d an i n t e r n a l adjustment process as w e l l . T h i s p e r i o d of adjustment and the process of l e a r n i n g and growing was d e s c r i b e d by the g i r l s as they each began to experience and i n t e r p r e t t h e i r world d i f f e r e n t l y a f t e r t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e . The trauma of the d i v o r c e appears to have p r e c i p i t a t e d s e v e r a l shared ways of p e r c e i v i n g t h e i r world. They now found i t d i f f i c u l t to t r u s t and to f e e l an i n c r e a s e d need f o r a sense of c o n t r o l . The awareness of the premature s e p a r a t i o n from t h e i r parents was a l s o i n t e n s i f i e d . K e l l y (Ivey & Simek-Downing, 1980) argues t h a t i n d i v i d u a l s can a l t e r t h e i r r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of t h e i r world when an o l d e r c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h e i r world i s an impediment and/or may no longer f i t t h e i r p e r s p e c t i v e . Sherman and Fredman (1986) d e s c r i b e the process of reframing meaning which i s a c o u n s e l l i n g technique drawn from A d l e r i a n t h e o r y . I t " c o n s i s t s of changing the frame of r e f e r e n c e a g a i n s t which a given event i s c o n s i d e r e d or judged, 80 thus changing the meaning and value judgement of the event without changing the f a c t s " (p. 196). I b e l i e v e t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study were spurred to reframe, or r e s t r u c t u r e , many of the ways they p e r c e i v e d t h e i r world. T h i s process i s a lengthy one, and was one which was p r e c i p i t a t e d by the experience of and adjustment to the d i v o r c e , and r e s u l t e d i n some shared ways of p e r c e i v i n g the world. U l t i m a t e l y some of the f e a r s which the d i v o r c e seemed to f o s t e r w i t h i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s , such as f e a r s around r e l a t i o n s h i p s and f e a r of a suddenly changing world, became cumbersome. To leave these f e a r s behind r e q u i r e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s to p e r c e i v e t h e i r world i n a d i f f e r e n t and o f t e n more p o s i t i v e way. T h i s change i n p e r c e p t i o n c o n s t i t u t e d , I b e l i e v e , a r e s t r u c t u r i n g of meaning. Often t h i s reframing process has l e d toward r e s o l u t i o n of the d i v o r c e , and I b e l i e v e a g r e a t e r acceptance by the p a r t i c i p a n t s of themselves. A g e n e r a l i z e d f e e l i n g of i n s t a b i l i t y , which was d e s c r i b e d by many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , i s the b e s t i l l u s t r a t i o n of t h i s process of r e s t r u c t u r i n g meaning. This f e e l i n g of i n s t a b i l i t y , I b e l i e v e , was caused by the meaning the g i r l s gave to many aspects of t h e i r l i v e s . For example, many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , a f t e r the d i v o r c e , came to see t h e i r world as no l onger p r e d i c t a b l e , f a i r or j u s t . As a r e s u l t , they d e s c r i b e d have d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g people, and d e s i r e d a h i g h degree of c o n t r o l i n t h e i r l i v e s . 81 T h i s sense of i n s t a b i l i t y appears t o have served as a m o t i v a t i n g f a c t o r t o understand and u l t i m a t e l y r e s o l v e these t e n s i o n s i n t h e i r l i v e s . The d e s i r e t o understand was c o n s i s t e n t l y d e s c r i b e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . p: That's probably why I r e b e l l e d and probably why I got upset and because I j u s t c o u l d n ' t understand her anymore, she kept doing t h i s and I don't know, I don't know. p: I was very confused again and upset. I d i d n ' t r e a l i z e why, because l i k e she d i d n ' t say why or any t h i n g . r : "Why" was important to you? p: Yeah, I d i d n ' t know what was going on. r : So i t was important f o r you to be able to p r e d i c t what was going to happen? p: Yeah, and the reasons why and s t u f f . Understanding why they f e l t the way t h a t they d i d seemed to be a way to overcome t h e i r sense of powerlessness and a way of making sense of t h i s c o n f u s i n g time i n t h e i r l i v e s . I n i t i a l l y , the g i r l s turned to t h e i r parents f o r answers, but f e l t uncomfortable t a l k i n g to t h e i r p a rents about the d i v o r c e . Not being able to f i n d t h e i r answers through t h e i r p a r e n t s , i t seems t h a t they looked w i t h i n themselves to pr o v i d e t h e i r own answers. One p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e d how she f e l t t h a t her need to understand what had happened to her was i n c r e a s e d by the developmental stage she was a t . p: Adolescence i s a k i n d o f t h i r s t t o l e a r n , a t h i r s t to e x p l o r e , and when t h a t happens a t the same time as d i v o r c e , i t ' s k i n d o f f o r c e d . So you are f o r c e d t o doubt t h i n g s , f o r c e d t o r e l o o k a t s i t u a t i o n s and readapt to l i f e i n a d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e . So the world i s n ' t j u s t your house, your f a m i l y , your dog, your two cars and your computer. 32 The evidence i n t h i s study suggests t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l i n t h e i r l i v e s has been a way of defending themselves a g a i n s t t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n t h a t the world was u n p r e d i c t a b l e . As they saw i t , r e l a t i o n s h i p s could suddenly f a i l and the world c o u l d suddenly a l t e r . As the p a r t i c i p a n t s g r a d u a l l y gained i n s i g h t i n t o t h e i r way of c o n s t r u i n g t h e i r world, they were then a b l e t o begin see t h e i r world d i f f e r e n t l y . The p a r t i c i p a n t s g r a d u a l l y began to g i v e up t h e i r deep-seated need f o r c o n t r o l . One p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e s how t h i s s h i f t o c c u r r e d f o r her. p: L i k e t h i n g s had to be p r e d i c t a b l e , t h i n g s had to be a c e r t a i n way, and t h i s i s how they are supposed to be, t h i s i s how they m o r a l l y are, and you know, i t ' s not a c c e p t a b l e . But l i f e ' s not l i k e t h a t . r : You've l e t go now? p: Well yeah, t h a t ' s the whole t h i n g i s l e t t i n g go. r : Is t h a t s t i l l k i n d of sca r y f o r you? p: Oh yeah, sure i t ' s scary, l i f e ' s s c a r y but you have to s o r t o f get on with i t . I don't know, I f e e l a l o t more freedom now because I don't f e e l the l o a d . r : So you kept making your own l i f e very s t a b l e and p r e d i c t a b l e ? p: Yeah, I made my l i f e p r e d i c t a b l e but I r e a l i z e d t h a t I d i d n ' t n e c e s s a r i l y l i k e i t (l a u g h ) . T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e d how she caused her l i f e to be very o r d e r l y and p r e d i c t a b l e f o r the f i r s t three years f o l l o w i n g her par e n t s ' d i v o r c e . She d e s c r i b e d h e r s e l f as very dependable and r e s p o n s i b l e and s t r u c t u r e d . 83 p: [They saw me as] very r e s p o n s i b l e , you know, l o g i c a l and t h a t I clun g on t o . I saw them t h i n k i n g t h a t . I a c t u a l l y thought t h a t was p o s i t i v e , then I r e a l i z e d t h a t I had been running around f o r three y e a r s . I had my f i r s t c ar when I was f i f t e e n before I even had my l i c e n s e you know and a bank loan, and I've a l r e a d y p a i d o f f my bank loan, and I've had a car t o t a l l e d . A l l of these t h i n g s , whenever they're not there I j u s t r e b u i l d a new r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g q u i t e f r i g h t e n e d once she began to l e t go of her need f o r c o n t r o l . p: When I f i r s t f i g u r e d out t h a t ' s what i t was (need to c o n t r o l ) , I c o l l a p s e d . That was two weeks ago. I j u s t , I r e a l l y broke down and d i d n ' t know what I had to motivate me or to hang onto and then I r e a l i z e d t h a t I should probably l e a r n how t o go through l i f e and be happy without having t o c l i n g to something. My m o t i v a t i o n s were wrong. Th i s s h i f t i n p e r s p e c t i v e helped the p a r t i c i p a n t s to see t h e i r world and t h e i r parents i n a new way. They began to f e e l more i n t e r n a l l y s t a b l e , and began to stop s e a r c h i n g f o r e x t e r n a l ways to f e e l i n c o n t r o l and to reduce t h e i r t e n s i o n . r : You were t r y i n g t o impose your own r e a l i t y on the r e s t o f the world? p: Yeah, and I r e a l i z e d t h a t the r e s t of the world was m o t i v a t i n g me to do i t , and not myself. So now what I want to do, i n my b i g l e s s o n t h a t I've lear n e d , when I do something I want the m o t i v a t i o n t o come w i t h i n myself and not through s t r e s s of parents or s t r e s s of what other people see me as. I b e l i e v e t h a t t h i s new sense of s e c u r i t y has allowed the p a r t i c i p a n t s to begin t o accept the world as an u n p r e d i c t a b l e p l a c e and f e e l s t r o n g enough t o f i n d a balance between f l e x i b i l i t y and t a k i n g c o n t r o l . p: J u s t because I always had to have c o n t r o l , i t d i d n ' t matter i f I was u s u a l l y i n s e c u r e . I wouldn't l e t myself l o s e c o n t r o l . I t h i n k I have r e a l l y l e t go of t h a t , and j u s t l e t t h i n g s , I s t i l l f e e l t h a t I'm i n c o n t r o l enough t o l e t myself f e e l the i n s e c u r i t y of not having p r e d i c t a b i l i t y . I t h i n k I am strong enough as a person not to have t o have t h a t . 84 I t appears t h a t p a r t i c i p a n t s are beginning to reframe t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n s of r e l a t i o n s h i p s as w e l l . R e l a t i o n s h i p s , f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , have t y p i c a l l y been an area o f concern because of the need to t r u s t and f e e l i n c o n t r o l . Some p a r t i c i p a n t s though have d e s c r i b e d how they are be g i n n i n g t o see t h i s d i f f e r e n t l y as w e l l . p: I would say they ( r e l a t i o n s h i p s ) change, but I h o p e f u l l y , when I get i n t o a r e l a t i o n s h i p i t w i l l be s t r o n g enough t h a t we can face the changes t o g e t h e r . Many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s f e e l t h a t they have gained g r e a t e r m a t u r i t y as a r e s u l t of t h e i r p a r e nts' d i v o r c e . Many f e e l t h a t they are more mature i n some ways than t h e i r f r i e n d s from non-divorced homes. A l l of the g i r l s value t h i s m a t u r i t y , and are proud of t h e i r independence. I t seems th a t they have come to see experience, even p a i n f u l experience, as synonymous with p e r s o n a l growth, and from t h i s knowledge f e e l they have the s t r e n g t h to face l i f e h o n e s t l y . p: I'm j u s t so much more i n touch with myself and how I f e e l and t h a t i s very p o s i t i v e to come out of such a neg a t i v e s i t u a t i o n . Because now t h a t the d i v o r c e i s over and now t h a t my l i f e i s going to begin I'm s t a r t i n g with a g r e a t e r knowledge of myself. So I s o r t o f am s t a r t i n g from a vantage p o i n t where h o p e f u l l y through s i t u a t i o n s I ' l l know a l i t t l e b i t more about myself and know how I ' l l r e a c t . Out o f t h i s reframing process has developed a g r e a t e r sense of acceptance f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s f o r themselves, t h e i r environment and t h e i r f a m i l y . N a t u r a l l y , t h i s process w i l l v ary i n degree f o r each p a r t i c i p a n t . H a l f of the p a r t i c i p a n t s b e l i e v e t h a t the p a i n of t h e i r p a r e nts' d i v o r c e , and the i s s u e s i t has c r e a t e d , have not been f u l l y r e s o l v e d y e t . These p a r t i c i p a n t s are s t i l l s t r u g g l i n g with the i s s u e s the 85 d i v o r c e c r e a t e d , such as t h e i r ambivalent f e e l i n g s toward parents and stepparents, d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g people, and sadness over t h e i r l o s s e s . To r e s o l v e these c o n f l i c t s r e q u i r e s the p a r t i p a n t s to have acknowledged t h e i r f e e l i n g s around the d i v o r c e , and to have a c t i v e l y explored and questioned t h e i r b e l i e f s and assumptions. Some p a r t i c i p a n t s seem stuck i n t h e i r h u r t f u l f e e l i n g s , o t hers have not yet begun to qu e s t i o n some of t h e i r assumptions, such as the i s s u e of t r u s t . One p a r t i c i p a n t does not d e s c r i b e h e r s e l f as f e e l i n g t h a t she has a strong need to f e e l i n c o n t r o l nor does she have d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g people. This p a r t i c i p a n t i s the p a r t i c i p a n t who was p r o t e c t e d from much of the p a i n of the d i v o r c e by her o l d e r s i s t e r and her mother. My s u s p i c i o n i s t h a t she has not r e a l l y begun t o face some her f e a r s and concerns around her parents' d i v o r c e . T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t was d e s c r i b e d by h e r s e l f and by her s i s t e r as being very s e c r e t i v e , and ca u t i o u s about to whom she t o l d d e t a i l s o f her l i f e . I asked her i f t h i s may be due to some d i f f i c u l t y she has t r u s t i n g people, but she d i d not p e r c e i v e her s e c r e t i v e n e s s i n t h i s manner. I t may be th a t f o r t h i s p a r t i c u l a r p a r t i c i p a n t the processes o f l e a r n i n g , growing, and r e s t r u c t u r i n g meaning do not apply. This p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e s h e r s e l f as having accepted her parents' d i v o r c e soon a f t e r i t s occurence. This c e r t a i n l y i s her c u r r e n t r e a l i t y , and consequently the acceptance process has not been the s t r u g g l e f o r her t h a t i t has been f o r the o t h e r s . 86 Other p a r t i c i p a n t s appear to have r e s o l v e d the l o s s e s and i s s u e s c r e a t e d by the d i v o r c e sooner than some of the other p a r t i c i p a n t s . U n l i k e the p a r t i c i p a n t I have j u s t d e s c r i b e d , I b e l i e v e these other p a r t i c i p a n t s have moved more q u i c k l y , or more completely, through the process of e x p e r i e n c i n g the emotions t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e provoked w i t h i n them, s t r u g g l i n g with an a l t e r e d r e a l i t y , and have now managed to r e s o l v e these changes i n t h e i r l i v e . For one p a r t i c i p a n t thisseems p a r t i c u l a r l y t r u e . I b e l i e v e t h i s i s so because t h i s p a r t i c i p a n t watched her o l d e r s i s t e r s t r u g g l e with many of the concerns and f e a r s I have d e s c r i b e d . Her s i s t e r q uestioned what was r i g h t , withdrew from her f a t h e r , had a deep need f o r c o n t r o l , and was c a u t i o u s t r u s t i n g people. T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t has now begun to accept her parents' d i v o r c e , and r e s o l v e these i s s u e s , but she has worked very hard to reach t h i s stage. As a r e s u l t of her obvious s t r u g g l e , i t appears t h a t her younger s i s t e r has b e n e f i t e d , and has been able to reframe the meaning she has assigned to aspects of her p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e much more q u i c k l y than her s i s t e r was able t o . In summary, each p a r t i c i p a n t s ' p r o g r e s s i o n from the d i v o r c e experience to r e s o l u t i o n of t h i s experience has v a r i e d i n i t s degree of f u l f i l l m e n t and i t s degree of i n t e n s i t y . These d i f f e r e n c e s are to be expected. However, the evidence suggests t h a t there e x i s t s f o r a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s a n a t u r a l c y c l e of p r o g r e s s i o n from the i n i t i a l experience of t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e , to experience of the p h y s i c a l changes 87 t h e d i v o r c e c r e a t e d , r e s p o n d i n g c o g n i t i v e l y t o t h e s e c h a n g e s , and e v e n t u a l l y coming t o i n t e r p r e t t h e d i v o r c e i n s u c h a way t h a t t h e y a c c e p t t h e c h a n g e s i t c r e a t e d i n t h e i r l i v e s . I b e l i e v e I would n o t h a v e w i t n e s s e d t h i s c y c l e i f I h a d i n t e r v i e w e d p a r t i c i p a n t s who h a d r e c e n t l y e x p e r i e n c e d t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s s t u d y h a v e had s e v e r a l y e a r s t o r e f l e c t upon and t o r e s p o n d t o t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . I f e e l q u i t e p r i v i l e g e d t o h a v e been a b l e t o , a t l e a s t v i c a r i o u s l y , w i t n e s s t h e i r g r o w t h and m a t u r i t y . Summary In summary, t h i s chapter has d e s c r i b e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . Four processes were i d e n t i f i e d t h a t were d e s c r i p t i v e o f the nature of the experience and of the twelve t o p i c areas which had been i d e n t i f i e d from the f i r s t i n t e r v i e w s . These processes were the immediate experience of the d i v o r c e , the process of adapting to the environmental changes t h a t the d i v o r c e c r e a t e d , the process of making sense of these changes and i d e n t i f y i n g the new meaning l i f e had assumed f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , and f i n a l l y r e i n t e r p r e t i n g t h i s meaning through the process of r e s o l u t i o n . 89 CHAPTER FIVE COMPARISON OF PRESENT STUDY WITH RESEARCH I n t r o d u c t i o n The p r e v i o u s chapter presented the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e . T h i s chapter w i l l examine t h i s experience i n r e l a t i o n t o the l i t e r a t u r e d i s c u s s e d i n the second chapter. As the l i t e r a t u r e suggested, l i t t l e r e s e a r c h has been conducted on the ad o l e s c e n t ' s experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . T h i s chapter w i l l compare the pre s e n t study with p e r t i n e n t r e s e a r c h f i n d i n g s on the t o p i c of c h i l d r e n ' s experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . A phenomenological study i s designed to capture the r i c h n e s s and a u t h e n t i c i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s ' experience ( G i o r g i , 1985). G i o r g i (1975) suggests t h a t t h i s experience i s w e l l - s u i t e d to a n a l y s i s on two l e v e l s . F i r s t , "by t r y i n g to understand the world o f the i n d i v i d u a l " (p. 97), and secondly, by r e l a t i n g the experience t o r e s e a r c h . T h i s second approach allows the r e s e a r c h e r to i n t e r p r e t the f i n d i n g s from a new p e r s p e c t i v e . S u l l i v a n (1984) argues t h a t t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n h e l p s us t o ga i n g r e a t e r i n s i g h t i n t o the experience being s t u d i e d . T h i s chapter e x p l o r e s p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experiences by r e l a t i n g i t to other f i n d i n g s . Some t h e o r i e s , such as j u s t world theory and a t t r i b u t i o n theory, h e l p to p r o v i d e new i n s i g h t i n t o the experience of d i v o r c e and h e l p to reframe those aspects of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience t h a t are s u i t e d t o t h i s . 90 Chapter four d e s c r i b e s the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of d i v o r c e as a p r o g r e s s i o n through four processes, or c a t e g o r i e s . The f i r s t process was the immediate experience o f d i v o r c e , f o l l owed by the process of adapting to environmental change, the l e a r n i n g and growing p r o c e s s , and the process of r e s t r u c t u r i n g meaning and moving toward r e s o l u t i o n of the d i v o r c e experience. The term process was chosen because w i t h i n each category p a r t i c i p a n t s moved from beginning to end. I t was a l s o noted t h a t while t h i s p r o g e s s i o n appears d e s c r i p t i v e f o r a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , the i n t e n s i t y of the experience and speed at which the p a r t i c i p a n t s moved through the four processes v a r i e d . Research on c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes a l s o d e s c r i b e s the d i v o r c e experience as a p r o g e s s i o n through time with d i f f e r e n t stages c h a r a c t e r i z i n g t h i s movement. Schwartzberg (1981) d e s c r i b e s attachment theory as a way to c o n c e p t u a l i z e the d i v o r c e process f o r c h i l d r e n . "Attachment theory p r o v i d e s a t h e o r e t i c a l framework i n which t o view d i v o r c e as both a process extending over time as w e l l as i n v o l v i n g s p e c i f i c tasks r e l a t e d to the task of working of through the experience of l o s s " (p. 125). There are four phases which d e s c r i b e the r e a c t i o n to the s e p a r a t i o n p r o c e s s : d e n i a l , p r o t e s t , d e s p a i r , and detachment (Schwartzberg, 1981). I t appears t h a t attachment theory as a d e s c r i p t i o n of r e s o l v i n g l o s s shares some s i m i l a r i t i e s with the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience i n the pr e s e n t study. T h e i r p r o g r e s s i o n i n v o l v e d r e s o l v i n g the i n i t i a l l o s s o f t h e i r p a r e n ts' marriage and numerous other 91 l o s s e s the d i v o r c e p r e c i p i t a t e d . The process of r e s o l v i n g these l o s s e s d i d e n t a i l s p e c i f i c tasks as w e l l . The present study d i f f e r s from attachment theory i n i t s t h e o r e t i c a l framework. The evidence i n t h i s study suggests t h a t the phases Schwartzberg (1981) d e s c r i b e s of d e n i a l , p r o t e s t , d e s p a i r , and detachment are more d e s c r i p t i v e of the p a r t i c i p a n t s 1 responses to the changes they underwent w i t h i n each of the processes t h i s study d e s c r i b e s . In p a r t i c u l a r , p a r t i c i p a n t s seem to have undergone the phases d e s c r i b e d by Schwartzberg during the process of environmental change. Each change the p a r t i c i p a n t s underwent, such as the l o s s of the parent from the home, a l t e r e d f i n a n c i a l s t a t u s , moving homes and s c h o o l s , stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n , was o f t e n experienced i n terms of d e n i a l , p r o t e s t , d e s p a i r and detachment. However, as a framework f o r the long-term process of adapting to the d i v o r c e , Schwartzberg 1s stages are not completely d e s c r i p t i v e of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e xperience. In the f i r s t p r o c e s s , the immediate experience of d i v o r c e , the p a r t i c i p a n t s undergo a number of i n t e n s e f e e l i n g s i n response to t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . The a c t u a l experience of these f e e l i n g s would seem to be c r u c i a l , as Schwartzberg b e l i e v e s , to the task of r e s o l v i n g t h e i r l o s s . The range of emotions d e s c r i b e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s however, such as shock, f e a r f u l n e s s , d i s i l l u s i o n m e n t , abandonment, l o n e l i n e s s , sadness, and anger, do not seem to d e s c r i b e the r e a c t i o n of d e n i a l which Schwartzberg argues i s d e s c r i p t i v e of t h i s i n i t i a l stage. T h e i r memory f o r how they f e l t i s s t i l l c l e a r and l u c i d . 92 D e n i a l o f the i n t e n s i t y of t h e i r p a i n seems only to d e s c r i b e the experience f o r two s i s t e r s , and d e n i a l of strong f e e l i n g seemed to be a f a m i l y v a l u e f o r them. Detachment, the l a s t stage d e s c r i b e d by Schartzberg, i s probably more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of how the p a r t i c i p a n t s responded than i s d e n i a l of the event or of the f e e l i n g s the event evoked. P r o t e s t (Schwartzberg, 1981) b e s t d e s c r i b e s aspects of the process of adapting to environmental changes and the l e a r n i n g and growing p r o c e s s , but does not a c c u r a t e l y c h a r a c t e r i z e a p a r t i c u l a r p r o c e s s . For example, some p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d e x p e r i e n c i n g an i n t e n s i f i e d sense of adolescence. They b e l i e v e d t h a t they were more r e b e l l i o u s than t h e i r f r i e n d s from non-divorced homes and more i n s i s t e n t upon t h e i r need f o r independence. T h i s could be d e s c r i b e d as a type of p r o t e s t , or as a way of v e n t i n g t h e i r anger around the many demands the d i v o r c e made upon them. However the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' responses to these demands were f a i r l y complex. While p r o t e s t i s probably c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' i n i t i a l responses to the changes the d i v o r c e c r e a t e d , i t was not a long-term response t h a t c o u l d d e s c r i b e a p a r t i c u l a r stage i n t h e i r l i v e s . Despair a l s o d i d not c h a r a c t e r i z e a p a r t i c u l a r stage f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , although i t c o u l d d e s c r i b e how some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t throughout the f i r s t t h ree p r o c e s s e s . The f e e l i n g of d e s p a i r c o u l d have been evoked by the sense of h e l p l e s s n e s s many p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d and by t h e i r f e a r t h a t they c o u l d not c o n t r o l aspects of t h e i r world. 93 P a r t i c i p a n t s a l s o d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g confused and unsure of what moral framework they should abide by as they were confused by t h e i r p a r e n t s ' behaviours. Detachment a l s o i s probably a b e t t e r d e s c r i p t i o n of some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' manner of d e a l i n g with the i n t e n s i t y of t h e i r f e e l i n g s , r a t h e r than how they f i n a l l y r e s o l v e d the l o s s e s c r e a t e d by the d i v o r c e . T h i s study suggests t h a t the term acceptance, r a t h e r than detachment, i s probably a more p r e c i s e d e s c r i p t i o n of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience s e v e r a l years a f t e r the d i v o r c e . Hetherington's (1979) c r i s i s model arguably i s a f a i r l y a c c u r a t e d e s c r i p t i o n of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' short-term r e a c t i o n to the d i v o r c e . She suggests t h a t f i r s t c h i l d r e n must r e a c t to the immediate p h y s i c a l changes i n t h e i r environment, such as the l o s s of one parent, the r e s u l t i n g f a m i l y dynamics, and the p a r e n t - c h i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p changes. Hetherington suggests t h a t the s t r e s s e s a s s o c i a t e d with c o n f l i c t , l o s s , change and u n c e r t a i n t y are d e s c r i p t i v e of the p r e d i v o r c e and s e p a r a t i o n stage. These s t r e s s e s seem to be an a c c u r a t e summation of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' r e a c t i o n over the f i r s t y ear. However, the l i t e r a t u r e has not c o n c e n t r a t e d on a model t h a t i s d e s c r i p t i v e of the long-term h e a l i n g process, one which i n c l u d e s the growth and acceptance process t h a t I witnessed. 94 The Immediate Experience of Divorce Chapter four summarizes 12 t o p i c s t h a t are d e s c r i p t i v e of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . These t o p i c s were then o r g a n i z e d i n t o four processes t h a t d e s c r i b e d a movement from the i n i t i a l experience of the d i v o r c e through to acceptance of the d i v o r c e . The f i r s t process i s the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' i n i t i a l experience of t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e . The p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d t h i s p e r i o d as one r i f e with s t r o n g emotions. The g i r l s r e p o r t e d f e e l i n g shocked, sad, worried over p r a c t i c a l i t i e s , abandoned and a l o n e . One p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g r e l i e v e d . The d i v o r c e a l t e r e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' sense of f a m i l y , and t h i s change c r e a t e d a d d i t i o n a l l o s s e s f o r the g i r l s , such as f a m i l y t r a d i t i o n s . To compare the f i n d i n g s of t h i s study with r e l a t e d l i t e r a t u r e presents s e v e r a l d i f f i c u l t i e s . F i r s t , t h i s was a q u a l i t a t i v e study t h a t sought to i l l u s t r a t e the experience of d i v o r c e , and as a r e s u l t comparisons between t h i s study and q u a n t i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h should be made c a u t i o u s l y . Second, W a l l e r s t e i n (1985) and Santrock (1987) both observe t h a t there has been l i t t l e r e s e a r c h conducted on c h i l d r e n ' s r e a c t i o n s to t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . Santrock (1987), i n p a r t i c u l a r notes t h a t r e s e a r c h i s p a r t i c u l a r l y l a c k i n g i n e m p i r i c a l s t u d i e s on the a d o l e s c e n t experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . T h i s p a u c i t y of r e s e a r c h i s one of the reasons an a d o l e s c e n t p o p u l a t i o n was chosen f o r t h i s study and why t h i s study has focused on the 95 experience o f p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e , as opposed t o t e s t i n g e x i s t i n g theory on the t o p i c . There are s e v e r a l s t u d i e s , however, t h a t have i n p a r t employed a q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h design to study the c h i l d ' s experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e (Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1985; W a l l e r s t e i n , 1985; W a l l e r s t e i n & K e l l y , 1980). W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y ' s (1980) work i s e s p e c i a l l y p e r t i n e n t to the p r e s e n t study as i t a l s o looks a t the adolescent e xperience. In a study of such a broad nature as the presen t one, and i n other r e l a t e d r e s e a r c h there are few d e s c r i p t i v e statements t h a t can be made of a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Hetherington (1979) notes t h a t there i s a "wide v a r i a b i l i t y i n the q u a l i t y and i n t e n s i t y of responses and i n the a d a p t a t i o n of c h i l d r e n to d i v o r c e " (p. 852). One common response made though by p a r t i c i p a n t s i n a l l these s t u d i e s i s "almost a l l c h i l d r e n experience the t r a n s i t i o n of d i v o r c e as p a i n f u l " (Hetherington, 1979, p. 851). A l l o f the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d the d i v o r c e as p a i n f u l , even the one p a r t i c i p a n t who wanted her mother t o leave her f a t h e r . The present study's f i n d i n g s concur i n p a r t with s e v e r a l u n i v e r s a l responses t o p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e d e s c r i b e d by W a l l e r s t e i n (1985). W a l l e r s t e i n ' s study found c h i l d r e n and ad o l e s c e n t s tended t o experience f e e l i n g s of "anxiety, d e p r e s s i o n , [and] worry over one or both parents . . . (p. 546). The f e e l i n g o f a n x i e t y , I b e l i e v e , was experienced by 96 a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s , though the source and i n t e n s i t y o f the a n x i e t y v a r i e d among p a r t i c i p a n t s . None of the p a r t i c i p a n t s used d e p r e s s i o n t o d e s c r i b e t h e i r experience of the d i v o r c e , but a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s used sadness to d e s c r i b e how they had f e l t about the d i v o r c e . Some f e l t t h a t they were depressed d u r i n g t h e i r adolescence, but were r e l u c t a n t to t r a c e i t s o r i g i n s t o the d i v o r c e . A number of the p a r t i c i p a n t s were depressed before and f o r some time a f t e r the d i v o r c e . The term d e p r e s s i o n c a r r i e s a c l i n i c a l tone t o i t t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s , I t h i n k , may have been i n t i m i d a t e d by, and may have f e a r e d that the consequences of being depressed were more s e r i o u s than the consequences of f e e l i n g sad. A sense of p e r v a s i v e sadness,' however, does seem to d e s c r i b e the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience, and seems to have stemmed from the many l o s s e s the d i v o r c e c r e a t e d and an i n c r e a s e d sense of i n s t a b i l i t y . A l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s expressed worry over one or both of t h e i r p a r e n t s . The causes of the worry which seemed to have the most profound e f f e c t on the p a r t i c i p a n t s was t h e i r tendency to want to p r o t e c t t h e i r parents from f e e l i n g h u r t . In p a r t i c u l a r , l o y a l t y c o n f l i c t s were a major concern f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , e s p e c i a l l y c o n f l i c t s such as d e c i d i n g whose home to l i v e i n , and which parent to s i d e w i t h . Another u n i v e r s a l response d e s c r i b e d by W a l l e r s t e i n (1985) i s c h i l d r e n ' s and a d o l e s c e n t s ' d e s i r e to undo the d i v o r c e . T h i s seems to d e s c r i b e most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y those who were s u r p r i s e d by the news or were pre-teens when they l e a r n e d of the news. One p a r t i c i p a n t 97 d e s c r i b e d her sadness around her b e l i e f t h a t her parents d i d not work hard enough a t r e s o l v i n g t h e i r d i f f e r e n c e s . She b e l i e v e d t h e i r marriage c o u l d have worked i f only they had t r i e d h a r d e r . T h i s b e l i e f deepened t h i s p a r t i c i p a n t ' s sadness as she thought her p a r e n t s ' a c t i o n s were somewhat c a p r i c i o u s . She c e r t a i n l y harboured a deep-seated d e s i r e to undo her par e n t s ' d i v o r c e . A u n i v e r s a l response which t h i s study noted was the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' immediate concerns with pragmatic problems such as f i n a n c i a l or housekeeping concerns. F e e l i n g s of shock and b e t r a y a l were a l s o common responses p a r t i c u l a r l y among p a r t i c i p a n t s who had not a n t i c i p a t e d t h e i r parents d i v o r c e . One p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g shocked even though her parents had o f t e n fought p r i o r to t h e i r d i v o r c e . She b e l i e v e d she had p r o t e c t e d h e r s e l f by a v o i d i n g f a c i n g the p o s s i b l e consequences of her pa r e n t s ' f i g h t i n g . Divorce, she thought, happens t o other people, but not to h e r . Hetherington (1979) d e s c r i b e s young c h i l d r e n f e e l i n g abandoned by one parent, and f e a r f u l t h a t the other parent may leave them a l s o . I n t e r e s t i n g l y , abandonment appears to be an i s s u e with a d o l e s c e n t s as w e l l . Young c h i l d r e n reason i f one parent l e f t , so could the ot h e r . While a d o l e s c e n t s are able to reason more r a t i o n a l l y , many of them d e s c r i b e d e x p e r i e n c i n g f e e l i n g s o f abandonment. This f e e l i n g seems t o have developed from s e v e r a l sources. Some p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d a v i c a r i o u s f e e l i n g of abandonment when one parent, u s u a l l y t h e i r f a t h e r , l e f t home. Other 98 p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g r e j e c t e d and abandoned when one or both of t h e i r parents s h i f t e d t h e i r a l l e g i a n c e s to t h e i r new spouses or companions. P a r e n t a l d i v o r c e c r e a t e s numerous l o s s e s f o r the c h i l d r e n i n v o l v e d . Many of the i s s u e s the c h i l d r e n s t r u g g l e with are the r e s u l t of some l o s s they have experienced. Some l o s s e s the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d being k e e n l y aware of soon a f t e r the d i v o r c e was the l o s s of t r a d i t i o n s i n the home, and the l o s s of t h e i r sense of f a m i l y . I t i s s a d l y i r o n i c t h a t many p a r t i c i p a n t s ' need f o r t r a d i t i o n was probably i n c r e a s e d by the d i v o r c e , while the r e s u l t i n g i n t e r i m f a m i l y a f t e r the d i v o r c e was by n e c e s s i t y very n o n t r a d i t i o n a l . The p a r t i c i p a n t s wanted t h e i r world to remain p r e d i c t a b l e and s i m i l a r to the world they had known. However, changes t o the f a m i l y seemed to d i c t a t e t h a t t r a d i t i o n s must a l t e r , and ma i n t a i n i n g many f a m i l y t r a d i t i o n s c o n t a i n e d too many p a i n f u l memories f o r the parents to p e r s i s t i n them. The f o l l o w i n g p a r t i c i p a n t ' s impressions of Christmas were f a i r l y t y p i c a l of the other p a r t i c i p a n t s ' f e e l i n g s : p: I grew t o hate Christmas. I always used to love i t , i t would be my f a v o u r i t e time of year. . . So t h a t [the d i v o r c e ] blew t r a d i t i o n f o r me and when t r a d i t i o n was gone, I d i d n ' t have anything e l s e because t h a t was Christmas f o r me, i t was f a m i l y , and i t was t r a d i t i o n . The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' sense of f a m i l y was a l s o a f f e c t e d by the d i v o r c e . I t s e f f e c t s w i l l be d i s c u s s e d i n the f o l l o w i n g p rocess of adapting to environmental changes. Accepting the many changes to the f a m i l y which the d i v o r c e c r e a t e d was a tremendous s t r a i n on many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Other i s s u e s a l s o developed out of the i n i t i a l experience of d i v o r c e , and these i s s u e s are e v i d e n t i n the f o l l o w i n g p r o c e s s e s . In p a r t i c u l a r , p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d t r y i n g t o avoid t h e i r o r i g i n a l f e e l i n g s of abandonment and the f r i g h t e n i n g sense t h a t t h e i r world was an u n p r e d i c t a b l e p l a c e by t r y i n g t o o v e r - c o n t r o l t h e i r l i v e s and r e l a t i o n s h i p s . In summary, the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' immediate r e a c t i o n to the d i v o r c e was one of i n t e n s e emotions c r e a t e d by the shock of the news and by the many l o s s e s the d i v o r c e p r e c i p i t a t e d . 100 The Process of Adapting to Environmental Change Chapter four d e s c r i b e d a number of environmental changes c h i l d r e n g e n e r a l l y experience a f t e r t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e . These changes are numerous and are o f t e n followed by an i n t e r n a l s h i f t i n p e r s p e c t i v e by the c h i l d r e n i n order to adapt to these changes. These changes are o f t e n p e r c e i v e d as l o s s e s . The changes most o f t e n spoke about by the p a r t i c i p a n t s were: the l o s s of one parent from t h e i r home, the i n c l u s i o n of stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n i n t o t h e i r l i v e s , moving homes, and decreased f i n a n c i a l support. These concrete changes o f t e n p r e c i p i t a t e d p s y c h o l o g i c a l change f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s T h e l o s s of one parent from the home o f t e n l e d to changes i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with one or both p a r e n t s , and f o s t e r e d i n c r e a s e d c l o s e n e s s with t h e i r s i b l i n g s . The i n c l u s i o n of stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n l e d t o a s h i f t i n t h e i r sense of f a m i l y . The double p a r e n t a l homes t y p i c a l of d i v o r c e d f a m i l i e s c r e a t e d some i n t e r e s t i n g o p t i o n s f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , and decreased f i n a n c i a l s t anding a l s o c r e a t e d the need f o r more ada p a t i o n . These changes g e n e r a l l y produced con c e p t u a l changes as w e l l , and these changes w i l l be d i s c u s s e d i n the f o l l o w i n g process of l e a r n i n g and growing. Research on c h i l d r e n ' s experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e a l s o r e f e r s to the many environmental changes c h i l d r e n encounter. These changes, or s t r e s s e s as the l i t e r a t u r e r e f e r s to them, were p e r c e i v e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s as a fundamental p a r t of t h e i r experience and acted as the impetus f o r p s y c h o l o g i c a l 101 e x p l o r a t i o n and growth. Rutter (1978, i n Forehand, Middleton & Long, 1987), has suggested t h a t : c h i l d r e n who experience s t r e s s from s e v e r a l sources (e.g., d i v o r c e ) are not at s i g n i f i c a n t r i s k f o r adjustment d i f f i c u l t i e s . However, f o r those c h i l d r e n who experience s t r e s s from s e v e r a l sources (e.g., d i v o r c e coupled with a poor r e l a t i o n s h i p with both p a r e n t s ) , the adverse e f f e c t s may i n c r e a s e as a f u n c t i o n of the number of s t r e s s o r s . (p. 306) One p a r t i c i p a n t mentioned t h a t she f e l t t h a t she could not have coped with any more change i n her l i f e than she had a l r e a d y e x p e r i e n c e d . T h i s g i r l had experienced both p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e and her r e l a t i o n s h i p with one parent had degenerated. When I asked her how she would f e e l about the a d d i t i o n of stepparents to her l i f e , she s a i d t h a t would have e n t a i l e d too many changes i n her l i f e i n too s h o r t a p e r i o d of time. p: That would be a tremendous adjustment, I t h i n k I'm probably p r e t t y lucky t h a t i t d i d n ' t a l l p i l e up at once. Hetherington, Cox, and Cox (1985), a l s o comment on the numerous environmental changes c h i l d r e n experience through d i v o r c e . Some of the f a c t o r s t h a t mediate the long-term outcomes of d i v o r c e f o r c h i l d r e n and parents appear to be the m u l t i p l e l i f e changes encountered f o l l o w i n g d i v o r c e . These i n c l u d e changes i n economic s t a t u s , r e s i d e n c e , occupation, c h i l d care arrangements, s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s support networks, f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and p h y s i c a l and mental h e a l t h , (p. 519) The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study however seem p a r t i c u l a r l y f l e x i b l e with p h y s i c a l changes i n t h e i r environment. Only one p a r t i c i p a n t f e l t deeply a f f e c t e d by numerous changes i n her r e s i d e n c e , economic s t a t u s , and s c h o o l s , and t h i s p a r t i c i p a n t was f o r c e d to move over a dozen times throughout her adolescence. For the other p a r t i c i p a n t s , the e x t e r n a l changes 102 t h a t seemed to c r e a t e the g r e a t e s t emotional h a r d s h i p f o r them were the s o c i a l changes . The g i r l s f e l t they had most d i f f i c u l t y a d j u s t i n g to new s t e p p a r e n t s , and to the changes i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s with t h e i r p a r e n t s . These s t r e s s e s , I b e l i e v e , presented the g r e a t e s t r i s k f o r adjustment. Forehand, Middleton, and Long, (1987) b e l i e v e t h a t a s u p p o r t i v e environment i s e s s e n t i a l f o r h e a l t h y emotional growth f o r a d o l e s c e n t s : S t u d i e s have found t h a t a s u p p o r t i v e harmonious environment p r o v i d e s a s e t t i n g f o r a d o l e s c e n t s to recover from t h e i r s t r e s s e s of d a i l y l i f e . Two f a c t o r s t h a t d i s r u p t t h i s are d i v o r c e and a poor p a r e n t - a d o l e s c e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p , and have been a s s o c i a t e d with maladaptive f u n c t i o n i n g . (p. 305). A s u p p o r t i v e , harmonious environment does encourage the h e a l i n g p r o c e s s . However, t h i s environment i s s t i l l r e a d i l y found i n d i v o r c e d homes, as s e v e r a l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s noted. The p r o b a b i l i t y of i t s occurrence however i s a f f e c t e d by the g r e a t many a d d i t i o n a l s t r e s s e s parents are enduring. A l s o , the p a r t i c i p a n t s who f e l t t h a t they had grown i n t o happy, w e l l - f u n c t i o n i n g i n d i v i d u a l s enjoyed a s u p p o r t i v e , harmonious environment i n both p a r e n t s ' homes a f t e r the d i v o r c e , and had enjoyed a s u p p o r t i v e environment i n t h e i r home p r i o r to the d i v o r c e . Only two s i s t e r s from the same home f e l t t h a t t h i s was d e s c r i p t i v e f o r them. The l o s s of one parent from the home a l t e r e d the e x i s t i n g dynamics i n the home. One way i n which these dynamics c o n s i s t e n t l y appeared to a l t e r was i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r parents and s i b l i n g s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' r e l a t i o n s h i p s with t h e i r parents was a f f e c t e d i n a number of 103 ways. One s h i f t i n the dynamics of p a r e n t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s c o n s i s t e n t l y d e s c r i b e d was f e e l i n g r e j e c t e d or abandoned by t h e i r p a r e n t s . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) note t h a t both c h i l d r e n and a d o l e s c e n t s experience a sense of r e j e c t i o n from the departed parent. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y suggest t h a t t h i s i s caused by the l o s s of one or both parents to t h e i r own concerns of l o n e l i n e s s , c o n f l i c t e d l o y a l t i e s , anger, sense of t h e i r own v u l n e r a b i l i t y and worry over changed f i n a n c i a l s t a t u s and domestic problems. S e v e r a l p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g l o n e l y f o r s e v e r a l years a f t e r t h e i r p a r e nts' d i v o r c e . T h e i r p a rents were o f t e n absent due to f i n a n c i a l o b l i g a t i o n s , or were absent i n an emotional sense. One p a r t i c i p a n t s a i d her mother was depressed a f t e r the d i v o r c e , and so was not there e m o t i o n a l l y f o r her to g i v e her the support and love t h a t had been th e r e f o r her b e f o r e the d i v o r c e . F e e l i n g s of r e j e c t i o n were a l s o c r e a t e d i n other ways. The d i v o r c e had a tendency to provoke the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t o t a k i n g s i d e s . The c h i l d r e n f e l t t h a t they s i d e d with t h e i r mother or t h e i r f a t h e r i n the d i v o r c e . This " s i d e - t a k i n g " l e d to f a c t i o n s w i t h i n the f a m i l y , and f e e l i n g s of anger and r e j e c t i o n . One p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g r e j e c t e d by her mother and s i s t e r because she supported her f a t h e r ' s d e c i s i o n to d i v o r c e . Her s i s t e r chose to support her mother, and c a r r i e d mixed f e e l i n g s toward her f a t h e r . On the one hand she f e l t angry at her f a t h e r f o r l e a v i n g t h e i r home and s t a r t i n g another f a m i l y , but she a l s o f e l t l o s s and r e j e c t i o n . P r i o r to the d i v o r c e she d e s c r i b e d h e r s e l f as being very c l o s e to her f a t h e r , and so t h i s s h i f t i n 104 a l l e g i a n c e s was p a r t i c u l a r l y p a i n f u l . r : You're s u p e r s e n s i t i z e d to f e e l i n g r e j e c t e d ? p: Oh t o t a l l y , r e j e c t i o n . . . I am r e a l l y s e n s i t i v e t o r e j e c t i o n . The l o s s of one parent 'from the home was p e r c e i v e d t o be the most immediate and apparent i n i t i a l l o s s . While t h i s l o s s was a p a i n f u l one and seemed to c r e a t e p a i n f u l f e e l i n g s such as r e j e c t i o n , most p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t t h a t they were able t o r e c o n c i l e t h i s l o s s . The absence of one parent however c r e a t e d some f a i r l y prominent environmental changes f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , and i n t e r e s t i n g l y some of these environmental changes were experienced as a g r e a t e r problem than the a c t u a l l o s s of a parent, u s u a l l y the f a t h e r , from t h e i r home. There were a l s o some b e n e f i t s , p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t , to be gained by the a l t e r e d dynamics i n t h e i r homes, and these b e n e f i t s helped to r e c o n c i l e t h e i r l o s s . One of the b e n e f i t s d e s c r i b e d by p a r t i c i p a n t s was g a i n i n g a second p a r e n t a l home. Part of adolescence i s e x p l o r i n g new op t i o n s and b a r g a i n i n g f o r new freedoms. Having access t o two p a r e n t a l homes p r o v i d e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s with a g r e a t e r degree of freedom than they had experienced p r i o r t o the d i v o r c e . As w e l l , because t h e i r p a r e n t s ' a t t e n t i o n a f t e r t h e i r d i v o r c e was o f t e n focused on t h e i r new s i t u a t i o n s and on new r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the p a r t i c i p a n t s enjoyed an a d d i t i o n a l degree of freedom. Another b e n e f i t which arose from the d i v o r c e was f i n d i n g they now enjoyed a c l o s e r r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r f a t h e r s . P r i o r t o the d i v o r c e most p a r t i c i p a n t s had l i v e d i n f a i r l y 105 t r a d i t i o n a l homes i n which the mothers were r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the bulk of p a r e n t i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . As a r e s u l t of t h i s , the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d spending very l i t t l e time with t h e i r f a t h e r s . The d i v o r c e however cr e a t e d a s i t u a t i o n where the p a r t i c i p a n t s were f o r c e d t o de d i c a t e more time t o t h e i r f a t h e r s , o f t e n e n t i r e weekends. Some p a r t i c i p a n t s were i n i t i a l l y very r e l u c t a n t as they had never spent time l i k e t h i s with t h e i r f a t h e r s i n the past, and they were j e a l o u s of t h e i r weekend time. However, those p a r t i c i p a n t s t h a t d i d e v e n t u a l l y v i s i t t h e i r f a t h e r s on weekends d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g much c l o s e r now to t h e i r f a t h e r s . I t was as i f , i r o n i c a l l y , the d i v o r c e gave them back a parent. So, they p e r c e i v e d the i n i t i a l l o s s of t h e i r f a t h e r s from t h e i r home as a c t u a l l y p r e c i p i t a t i n g an i n c r e a s e d c l o s e n e s s with t h e i r f a t h e r s . Having access t o two homes a l s o gave r i s e t o what I d e s c r i b e as a h o l i d a y phenomenon. G e n e r a l l y the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' f a t h e r s enjoyed a h i g h e r standard of l i v i n g , and were able to p r o v i d e weekend t r e a t s t h a t t h e i r mothers co u l d not a f f o r d . V i s i t s with t h e i r f a t h e r s then were a welcome r e l i e f from the o f t e n h a rsher r e a l i t y of t h e i r mothers' homes. Most of the mothers were s t r u g g l i n g t o make ends meet. Many p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d l i v i n g much more f r u g a l l y a f t e r the d i v o r c e . I n t e r e s t - i n g l y , none of the p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t t h a t t h e i r f a t h e r s should c o n t r i b u t e more to the f i n a n c i a l support of t h e i r mothers' homes. Rather, they simply enjoyed the b e n e f i t s a t t h e i r f a t h e r s ' homes. T h e i r mothers were o f t e n p e r c e i v e d e i t h e r as d e p r e s s i n g complainers, or were m a r v e l l e d at f o r t h e i r a b i l i t y 106 to make ends meet. A l l o f the p a r t i c i p a n t s learned t h a t being a b l e t o f i n a n c i a l l y support themselves was of c e n t r a l importance to them. They d i d not want t o have t o s t r u g g l e l i k e t h e i r mothers d i d . T h e i r commitment to t h i s was supported by the f a c t t h a t s i x out of the e i g h t p a r t i c i p a n t s I i n t e r v i e w e d were e i t h e r a t t e n d i n g u n i v e r s i t y , or had concrete plans to a t t e n d . The environmental change t h a t was p e r c e i v e d by the p a r t i c i p a n t s t o have caused them the g r e a t e s t h a r d s h i p was the a d d i t i o n of stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n to t h e i r home. Th i s a d d i t i o n r e q u i r e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s to make enormous adjustments i n t h e i r sense of what c o n s t i t u t e d f a m i l y . They had r e c o n c i l e d the l o s s of one parent from the home because t h i s l o s s had i n i t i a t e d some balances and b e n e f i t s which I have d e s c r i b e d . However, the p a r t i c i p a n t s r e p o r t e d t h a t there were very few b e n e f i t s t o be gained from s t e p p a r e n t s . Santrock (1987) suggests t h a t r e s e a r c h on the t o p i c o f ad o l e s c e n t s ' r e a c t i o n s to growing up i n d i f f e r e n t f a m i l y s t r u c t u r e s i s l a c k i n g . I have not encountered much d i s c u s s i o n on t h i s t o p i c , and y e t t h i s seems to be an area of c e n t r a l concern f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study. One of the reasons, I b e l i e v e , t h a t stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n c o n s t i t u t e d such an area of concern f o r p a r t i c i p a n t s i s because they were p e r c e i v e d to be an unacceptable c h a l l e n g e t o the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' sense o f f a m i l y . T h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l sense of f a m i l y had a l r e a d y been s e v e r e l y a l t e r e d , and they were not prepared t o accept any more changes 107 over which they had no c o n t r o l . I t seems t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study had not c l e a r l y a r t i c u l a t e d to themselves how and why they p e r c e i v e d stepparents and s t e p c h i l d r e n to be a t h r e a t to t h e i r sense of f a m i l y . Instead, the p a r t i c i p a n t s had simply chosen to d i s l i k e t h e i r new f a m i l y members. T h e i r d i s l i k e was, f o r them, ample evidence as to why t h e i r stepparents should not be e a s i l y accepted by them. While the l o s s of one parent from the home seemed to b r i n g some b e n e f i t s , the a d d i t i o n of stepparents f o r a l l but one p a r t i c i p a n t seemed t o b r i n g nothing p o s i t i v e i n t o t h e i r l i v e s . For the s i n g l e p a r t i c i p a n t who r e a d i l y accepted her stepparent and s t e p s i b l i n g s , her new f a m i l y seemed to make up f o r the l o s s of the the f a m i l y she had known, p a r t i c u l a r l y because she f e l t t h a t her mother and s i s t e r had r e j e c t e d her f o r a c c e p t i n g her f a t h e r ' s a c t i o n s . For the other p a r t i c i p a n t s stepparents g e n e r a l l y decreased the amount of time and a t t e n t i o n t h e i r p a r e n t s ' gave them, p a r t i c u l a r l y r e c r e a t i o n a l time. As w e l l , s t e p p a r e n t s or parents' companions o f t e n expressed j e a l o u s y over the time the parents committed to t h e i r c h i l d r e n . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) d i s c u s s how stepparents and p a r e n t s ' companions tended to c r e a t e a sense of c o m p e t i t i o n w i t h i n the c h i l d r e n . T h i s competition seemed to e x i s t i n terms of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' f e e l i n g s of j e a l o u s y , and a l s o i n t h e i r sense of b e l o n g i n e s s . Not o n l y d i d the p a r t i c i p a n t s f e e l t h a t they had l o s t t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l homes, but they were a l s o l o s i n g the parents they had known to the i n f l u e n c e of t h e i r new companions. Again t h i s was p e r c e i v e d as an i n f r a c t i o n a g a i n s t 108 t h e i r sense of c o n t r o l over what c o n s t i t u t e d f a m i l y . As one p a r t i c i p a n t noted: p: I guess i t doesn't f e e l l i k e home at Dad's because i t ' s -'s house, i t ' s not r e a l l y Dad's house, she decorates i t , she looks a f t e r i t , i t ' s her house. She's the boss th e r e , but she won't be boss of us s o r t of t h i n g , she does't want to be a p a r t of our l i v e s , doesn't want us to be a p a r t of h e r s . 109 The Learning and Growing Process The process of adapting to environmental changes addresses the v a r i a t i o n s i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' environment that were most s a l i e n t f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s . I b e l i e v e t h a t the experience of these changes p r e c i p i t a t e d i n t e r n a l m o d i f i c a t i o n s as w e l l . T h i s next process w i l l d e s c r i b e these conceptual changes, and examine any r e l a t e d r e s e a r c h . One o f the environmental changes d i s c u s s e d was how the absence of one parent from the home l e d to an a l t e r a t i o n i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the p a r t i c i p a n t s and one or both of t h e i r p a r e n t s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g r e j e c t e d i n i t i a l l y , and they a l s o f e l t angry and threatened by the changes they saw o c c u r i n g i n t h e i r p a r e n t s . The g i r l s had counted on t h e i r p a r ents to maintain t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l values and r o l e s . The d i v o r c e however o f t e n seemed to p r e c i p i t a t e behaviours i n t h e i r p arents t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s found d i s t r e s s i n g . Much of the g i r l s 1 d i s t r e s s arose from t h e i r c o n f u s i o n over t h e i r own values and b e l i e f s . They had u n c o n s c i o u s l y counted on t h e i r parents to be r o l e models f o r them, and to p r o v i d e them with a secure, dependable home. When t h e i r parents contravened these e x p e c t a t i o n s , some of the g i r l s f e l t l o s t , confused and h e l p l e s s . One g i r l who had p a r t i c u l a r l y admired her f a t h e r b e f o r e the d i v o r c e f e l t e s p e c i a l l y confused and be t r a y e d . p: L i k e Dad shouldn't be with her, i t was j u s t , i t was immoral. But the t h i n g t h a t was so hard was he was l i k e a God to me, he represented, he was never wrong, he d i d e v e r y t h i n g r i g h t , he was p e r f e c t and a l l t h a t , and t h a t j u s t t o t a l l y s h a t t e r e d the image. I d i d n ' t know what to t h i n k anymore. no The a l t e r e d dynamics of the p o s t - d i v o r c e home a l s o seems r e s p o n s i b l e f o r i n t e r n a l changes. W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) suggest t h a t i n d i v o r c e d homes adolescents may experience a sense of t u r m o i l because of loosened c o n t r o l s on d i s c i p l i n e . The e f f e c t of these changes, ac c o r d i n g to W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y , can be dangerous f o r teenagers who may not yet possess the i n t e r n a l d i s c i p l i n e r e q u i r e d to keep them saf e from the u n d i s c i p l i n e d , o f t e n w i l d world of the a d o l e s c e n t . "The d i v o r c e l e f t them f e e l i n g v u l n e r a b l e to t h e i r own newly strengthened sexual and a g g r e s s i v e impulses, and surrounded by the temptations of the adolescent world without the supports t h a t would h o l d them to a s t r a i g h t course" (1980, p. 83). K a l t e r , ( i n W a l l e r s t e i n , 1985) suggests "a time bomb-like r e a c t i o n f o r g i r l s and t h a t adolescence may t r i g g e r symptomatic responses i n c l u d i n g p r e c o c i o u s sexual a c t i v i t y , substance abuse, and running away from home" (p. 516). The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study appeared to have responded to reduced d i s c i p l i n e , or the a l t e r e d s t r u c t u r e i n the home, d i f f e r e n t l y . While the p a r t i c i p a n t s d i s c u s s e d using a l c o h o l , none f e l t t h a t t h e i r behaviours were out of c o n t r o l , or r e a l l y out of the normal range of behaviours f o r a d o l e s c e n t s . But the p a r t i c i p a n t s d i d respond to the a l t e r e d dynamics of t h e i r homes. In p a r t i c u l a r , some p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g as i f they grew up more q u i c k l y than t h e i r f r i e n d s from non-divorced homes. They f e l t t h a t t h e i r n a t u r a l s e p a r a t i o n from t h e i r parents had been hastened by the d i v o r c e . While m they d i d not t u r n to the type of p r e c o c i o u s behaviours d e s c r i b e d by W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980), and K a l t e r ( i n W a l l e r s t e i n , 1985), they f e l t p r e s s u r e d by these changes nonetheless• Adolescence i s t y p i c a l l y d e s c r i b e d as a p e r i o d when s e p a r a t i o n and growing independence are c e n t r a l i s s u e s f o r the c h i l d (Rice, 1981). Divorce a f f e c t s these i s s u e s by c r e a t i n g a type of unnatural s e p a r a t i o n w i t h i n the f a m i l y . Where normally the adolescent would be p r e p a r i n g to leave her f a m i l y , i n s t e a d i t i s one parent who l e a v e s . This a f f e c t s the r e l a t i o n s h i p the c h i l d has with both her p a r e n t s . As one p a r t i c i p a n t commented, she needed to be able to leave her mother, r a t h e r than her mother l e a v i n g her. She f e l t , l i k e the youngster d e s c r i b e d i n the W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) study, as i f she "[were] being thrown out i n t o the world b e f o r e I was ready I " (p. 83). Schwartzberg (1981) comments t h a t " f a m i l y d i s r u p t i o n poses a very s p e c i f i c hazard to the normal adolescent process of emancipation from primary love o b j e c t s " (p. 122). The c h i l d r e q u i r e s a s t a b l e , safe f a m i l y t h a t she can begin to disengage from at a r a t e which i s comfortable f o r her. The g i r l s who f e l t t h a t they had l o s t t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r mother v i a the d i v o r c e Were e s p e c i a l l y confused and t h r e a t e n e d . I t seems t h a t t h e i r mother represented g r e a t e r s e c u r i t y f o r them, and to l o s e her suddenly l e f t them f e e l i n g alone and i n s e c u r e . 112 p: I t h i n k t h a t was the time when I probably needed a mother the most. Although I wanted to separate from my f a m i l y then but you need to know i t ' s there, you need to know t h a t t h a t base i s there and t h a t you can separate from i t . p: I mean even now I don't want to, I h a l f want her to t r e a t me l i k e an a d u l t , and t r e a t me l i k e a l i t t l e k i d , you know l i k e to be there and mother me. The most o u t s t a n d i n g i n t e r n a l t r a n s f o r m a t i o n I c o n s i s t e n t l y witnessed was the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' deep d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l i n t h e i r l i v e s . I saw i n the i n i t i a l i n t e r v i e w s t h a t t h i s need f o r c o n t r o l appeared t o be a predominant i s s u e . When I d i s c u s s e d t h i s i s s u e with the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the second i n t e r v i e w , I came to see th a t t h i s was a c e n t r a l concern f o r a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s except two. One p a r t i c i - pant who d i d not v o i c e t h i s concern was a l s o the one p a r t i c i p a n t who had supported her f a t h e r ' s a c t i o n s , and her support, I b e l i e v e , p r o v i d e d her with a sense of c o n t r o l . The other p a r t i c i p a n t , I t h i n k , may have some concerns i n t h i s area, but has not yet begun t o expl o r e them. Although the other p a r t i c i p a n t s had not a r t i c u l a t e d t h i s i s s u e , once they were aware of i t they were able t o d e s c r i b e how t h i s need f o r c o n t r o l was born from t h e i r f e e l i n g s of having l i t t l e c o n t r o l over t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e and the r e s u l t i n g changes the d i v o r c e p r e c i p i t a t e d . The m a j o r i t y of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g the need f o r c o n t r o l i n t h e i r domestic l i v e s , and i n p a r t i c u l a r i n t h e i r more i n t i m a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p s . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) d e s c r i b e an i n c r e a s e d sense of v u l n e r a b i l i t y i n c h i l d r e n and a d o l e s c e n t s . These authors 113 suggest t h a t t h i s i s because the c h i l d r e n "confronted a world which suddenly appeared to have become l e s s r e l i a b l e , l e s s p r e d i c t a b l e , and l e s s l i k e l y i n t h e i r view t o p r o v i d e f o r t h e i r needs and e x p e c t a t i o n s " ( W a l l e r s t e i n & K e l l y , 1980, p. 45). T h i s sense of v u l n e r a b i l i t y d i d e x i s t f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s , and i t appears to be the r e s u l t of t h e i r f e a r t h a t the world i s u n p r e d i c t a b l e . Some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d i n poignant terms how t h e i r world was suddenly changed f o r them, and how they were unsure whether t h e i r new f a m i l y c o u l d r e p l a c e what they had had. p: I saw i t (the f a m i l y ) as one u n i t and without i t being one u n i t I d i d n ' t know i f i t c o u l d be tru e , i f we c o u l d be happy. Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s had b e l i e v e d t h a t they could depend on t h e i r home and parents being the same sa f e , secure p l a c e and people throughout t h e i r youths. They had p r e d i c t e d t h a t the home they knew and were comfortable with would always be there f o r them. A t t r i b u t i o n theory argues that making these k i n d s of p r e d i c t i o n s i s normal behaviour f o r people because we need to f e e l t h a t we have c o n t r o l over our l i v e s . I f we d i d not f e e l t h a t we could not reasonably p r e d i c t our worlds, we would experience our world as f r i g h t e n i n g p l a c e s . K e l l e y (1971) suggests t h a t : " A t t r i b u t i o n processes are to be understood not only as a way of p r o v i d i n g the i n d i v i d u a l with a v e r i d i c a l view of h i s world, but as a means of encouraging and m a i n t a i n i n g h i s e f f e c t i v e e x e r c i s e of c o n t r o l i n t h a t world" (p. 22). 114 A t t r i b u t i o n theory suggests t h a t those i n d i v i d u a l s who f e e l t h a t they have c o n t r o l over t h e i r worlds, who e x h i b i t a sense of mastery, enjoy h i g h e r s e l f - e s t e e m and a lower i n c i d e n c e of d e p r e s s i o n than those who f e e l e x t e r n a l l y c o n t r o l l e d by t h e i r worlds (Abramson, Seligman & Teasdale, 1978). Research has a l s o i n d i c a t e d t h a t i n d i v i d u a l s may seek a sense of p e r s o n a l c o n t r o l i n s i t u a t i o n s where t h e i r a b i l i t y t o e x e r t c o n t r o l i s very l i m i t e d (Bulman & Wortman, 1977). Th i s r e s e a r c h suggests t h a t i n d i v i d u a l s can f e e l so threatened by t h e i r l o s s of c o n t r o l they w i l l d i s t o r t t h e i r r e a l i t y to r e g a i n t h e i r sense of c o n t r o l . The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study remarked t h a t , to a degree, the need to f e e l i n c o n t r o l had been, and f o r most s t i l l was, an a c curate a p p r a i s a l of t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d a number of ways th a t they took c o n t r o l over t h e i r l i v e s and worked to e s t a b l i s h a sense of p r e d i c t a b i l i t y w i t h i n i t . Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d having d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g people. I t c o u l d be argued t h a t approaching other people c a u t i o u s l y i s one way of m a i n t a i n i n g c o n t r o l around how you f e e l i n your r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The more i n f o r m a t i o n the p a r t i c i p a n t s had about people, the l e s s l i k e l y they were to be s u r p r i s e d by them. A number of the p a r t i c i p a n t s a l s o d e s c r i b e d t r y i n g to p r o t e c t t h e i r parents from the p a i n f u l s i t u a t i o n s the d i v o r c e evoked. As one p a r t i c i p a n t commented, she f e l t as i f she was 115 t r y i n g to parent her p a r e n t s . By t a k i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r t h e i r parents they were able t o c o n t r o l t h e i r own v i c a r i o u s f e e l i n g s of p a i n about the d i v o r c e . Another p a r t i c i p a n t d e s c r i b e d t r y i n g to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r oth e r s ' f e e l i n g s as a way of a v o i d i n g her own f e e l i n g s o f h e l p l e s s n e s s and abandonment. Another p a r t i c i p a n t s a i d she wanted c o n t r o l so much her f r i e n d s d e s c r i b e d her as bossy. Many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s worked hard at school so t h a t t h e i r r e s u l t i n g c a r e e r would h e l p them t o avoid f e e l i n g dependent f i n a n c i a l l y . The other area of concern which was commonly expressed by the p a r t i c i p a n t s was t h e i r f e a r s around the success of t h e i r own r e l a t i o n s h i p s . W a l l e r s t e i n and K e l l y (1980) a l s o remarked t h a t the adolescents i n t h e i r study expressed concerns about the s t a b i l i t y and success of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s and marriages. I b e l i e v e t h a t t h i s concern a r i s e s out of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l , and t h e i r f e a r t h a t they may not be able t o c o n t r o l or p r e d i c t the s t a b i l i t y of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . T h i s f e a r was r a i s e d numerous times by a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s except f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t who d i d not express an un n a t u r a l d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l i n her l i f e . Many fe a r e d t h a t they would have l i t t l e c o n t r o l over t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s with men and c u r r e n t l y had t r o u b l e t r u s t i n g t h e i r b o y f r i e n d s or even i n t e r e s t i n i n i t i a t i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s . One p a r t i c i p a n t s t a t e d most s u c c i n c t l y how t h i s f e a r developed from her par e n t s ' d i v o r c e . p: Our r e l a t i o n s h i p s and how we view r e l a t i o n s h i p s has to a l t e r because we saw a r e l a t i o n s h i p working, and not working or never working or whatever, and so when you see your p a r e n t s , the one t h i n g t h a t ' s supposed t o be s t a b l e , not working then there's a l o t o f doubt t h a t i t ever can. 116 I b e l i e v e i t i s p l a u s i b l e t o argue t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l over t h e i r world developed from e x p e r i e n c i n g f e e l i n g s of u n c o n t r o l l a b i l i t y and h e l p l e s s n e s s at an e a r l y age. A world they had b e l i e v e d was p r e d i c t a b l e became, r e l a t i v e l y suddenly, u n p r e d i c t a b l e . Rubin and Peplau (1975) d e s c r i b e j u s t world theory as a way to c o n c e p t u a l i z e i n d i v i d u a l s ' need to see one's world as a p r e d i c t a b l e p l a c e . Rubin and Peplau note: The b e l i e f t h a t the world i s a j u s t p l a c e seems to p r o v i d e p a r t of the s c a f f o l d i n g needed to support an i n t e r n a l locus of c o n t r o l . I f the world were not j u s t , people might s t r i v e f o r reinforcements and then f a i l to get them because of unforeseen e x t e r n a l events. Thus the b e l i e f i n a j u s t world seems necessary i f one's sense of p e r s o n a l e f f i c a c y i s to be maintained. (1975, p. 79) Some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d i n moving terms how confused and threatened they f e l t when they r e a l i z e d the world they had known was gone f o r them. Some d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g t h a t t h e i r sense of r e a l i t y had become d i s t o r t e d f o r them. The one p a r t i c i p a n t who had never enjoyed a secure home has s t r i v e n t o make a secure home f o r h e r s e l f now as an independent young a d u l t . S e c u r i t y , p r e d i c t a b i l i t y and c o n t r o l have been an important p a r t of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' l i v e s , and I b e l i e v e these needs have developed as a way of a v o i d i n g r e - e x p e r i e n c i n g f e e l i n g s of h e l p l e s s n e s s . In summary, the process of l e a r n i n g and growing explored the b e l i e f s t h a t arose f o r p a r t i c i p a n t s from e x p e r i e n c i n g p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . T h i s i n t e r n a l d i a l o g u e i n c l u d e d q u e s t i o n i n g b e l i e f s upon m o r a l i t y and v a l u e s . The d i v o r c e a l t e r e d the 117 s t a b l e r o l e s the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' parents had h e l d p r i o r to the d i v o r c e , and t h i s a l t e r a t i o n was experienced as c o n f u s i n g and t h r e a t e n i n g . P a r t i c i p a n t s a l s o d e s c r i b e d f e e l i n g as i f the d i v o r c e p r e c i p i t a t e d the s e p a r a t i o n process between themselves and t h e i r parents at an unnatural and uncomfortable r a t e . T h i s hastened s e p a r a t i o n was a l s o experienced as t h r e a t e n i n g . L a s t , I d i s c u s s e d how the p a r t i c i p a n t s sense of p e r s o n a l c o n t r o l was a f f e c t e d by the d i v o r c e . The need f o r c o n t r o l was examined w i t h i n the framework of a t t r i b u t i o n theory (Abramsom, Seligman & Teasdale, 1978) and j u s t world theory (Rubin & Peplau, 1975). These t h e o r i e s suggest t h a t i n d i v i d u a l s r e q u i r e a sense of c o n t r o l over t h e i r worlds, and t h a t i n d i v i d u a l s who do not enjoy t h i s e x h i b i t lowered s e l f - e s t e e m , a reduced sense of mastery and i n c r e a s e d i n c i d e n t s of d e p r e s s i o n . In order to b e l i e v e t h a t one does e x e r t c o n t r o l over one's world, one most a l s o b e l i e v e t h a t the world i s a p r e d i c t a b l e and j u s t p l a c e . As I d i s c u s s e d , one of the foremost l e s s o n s the p a r t i c i p a n t s seemed to have l e a r n e d from t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e i s t h a t the world can be a very c a p r i c i o u s one. 118 The Process of R e s t r u c t u r i n g Meaning and Moving Toward R e s o l u t i o n The process of l e a r n i n g and growing was e s s e n t i a l l y the i n t e r n a l experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . The d i v o r c e produced environmental changes which i n t u r n produced an a l t e r a t i o n i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' b e l i e f systems. T h i s process was a d i f f i c u l t one f o r many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s as i t c r e a t e d f e e l i n g s of v u l n e r a b i l i t y and h e l p l e s s n e s s . The process of r e s t r u c t u r i n g meaning and moving toward r e s o l u t i o n of the d i v o r c e experience w i l l examine how many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s r e s o l v e d these f e e l i n g s by modifying t h e i r way of p e r c e i v i n g t h e i r world. These m o d i f i c a t i o n s i n b e l i e f s u l t i m a t e l y have l e d t o acceptance of the changes they have undergone. How i n d i v i d u l s construe t h e i r e f f e c t on t h e i r world and the meaning t h e i r l i v e s h o l d f o r them i s what d e f i n e s t h a t i n d i v i d u a l ' s r e a l i t y . " I f I d e f i n e a s i t u a t i o n as p l e a s a n t , t h r e a t e n i n g , b o r i n g , c h a l l e n g i n g , or f a n t a s t i c , the way i n which I have d e f i n e d i t e s t a b l i s h e s the s t a t u s t h a t s i t u a t i o n has w i t h i n my world" (Natanson, i n Schutz, 1971, p. x x x v i ) . A t t r i b u t i o n theory argues t h a t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s the fundamental p a r t of i n d i v i d u a l r e a l i t y . How an i n d i v i d u a l e x p l a i n s and i n t e r p r e t s h i s or her world w i l l i n f l u e n c e t h a t person's emotional and b e h a v i o u r a l responses to i t ( K e l l e y & Mic h e l a , 1980). A t t r i b u t i o n theory suggests t h a t as people t r y t o make sense of t h e i r world, they make t h e o r i e s , or p r e d i c t i o n s , about what i n f l u e n c e s are at work i n t h e i r world. 119 The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the present study d e s c r i b e d e x p e r i e n c i n g a p e r i o d of trauma soon a f t e r the d i v o r c e . While the i n i t i a l i n t e n s e emotions e v e n t u a l l y lessened, the p a r t i c i p a n t s drew some c o g n i t i v e c o n c l u s i o n s from t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e . These c o n c l u s i o n s , such as the world i s u n p r e d i c t a b l e and i t i s important to c o n s t a n t l y f e e l i n c o n t r o l of one's world, c r e a t e d f e e l i n g s of v u l n e r a b i l i t y and t e n s i o n f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s . U l t i m a t e l y , many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d l e a v i n g these b e l i e f s behind. In order to accomplish t h i s , the p a r t i c i p a n t s began to a l t e r the meaning they a s c r i b e d t o events. T h i s change i n meaning has been accompanied by, f o r many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , an i n c r e a s e d sense of mastery, m a t u r i t y , and acceptance of t h e i r s i t u a t i o n s . While the d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l continues t o be an i s s u e f o r many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , they d e s c r i b e how they have g r a d u a l l y come to see the need f o r i n c r e a s e d f l e x i b i l i t y i n t h e i r l i v e s . S e v e r a l p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d being able to l e t go of c o n s t a n t l y imposing t h e i r own r e a l i t y , t h e i r own need to c o n t r o l , over the r e s t o f the world. Some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s expressed a d e s i r e t o experience l i f e spontaneously, and l e t go of t h e i r need to c o n s t a n t l y p r e d i c t t h e i r world. Rubin and Peplau (1975) suggest t h a t c h i l d r e n b egin to l o s e t h e i r need to b e l i e v e i n a j u s t world as they g r a d u a l l y begin to experience i n j u s t i c e and u n p r e d i c t a b i l i t y . C h i l d r e n who do not develop a more s o p h i s t i c a t e d b e l i e f system can grow i n t o a d u l t s who maintain a r i g i d , i n f l e x i b i l e b e l i e f system. I t would be m i s l e a d i n g to suggest t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study have f u l l y r e s o l v e d a l l of the i s s u e s t h a t the d i v o r c e c r e a t e d f o r them. Research from l o n g i t u d i n a l s t u d i e s on c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes i s now suggesting t h a t c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes continue to s u f f e r from p s y c h o l o g i c a l problems w e l l i n t o e a r l y adulthood. K e l l y (1981) comments t h a t of the 18 a d o l e s c e n t s s t u d i e d i n her l o n g i t u d i n a l study on c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes, at the f i v e year follow-up, o n l y f i v e were doing w e l l . Ten, she says, had " s i g n i f i c a n t p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s " (p. 136). W a l l e r s t e i n w r i t e s t h a t of the a d o l e s c e n t s she i n t e r v i e w e d , "I d i d not expect the experience to endure so f u l l y f o r so many, with such high drama and p a s s i o n s " ( W a l l e r s t e i n & B l a k e s l e e , 1989, p. 20). She a l s o comments t h a t "we are a l l o w i n g our c h i l d r e n t o bear the p s y c h o l o g i c a l , economic, and moral brunt of d i v o r c e " ( W a l l e r s t e i n & B l a k e s l e e , 1989, p. 308). The evidence from the present study suggests t h a t many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d i d undergo p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s f o r s e v e r a l years f o l l o w i n g t h e i r p a r e nts' d i v o r c e . These d i f f i c u l t i e s , such as f e e l i n g s of v u l n e r a b i l i t y , arose from i s s u e s of l a c k of c o n t r o l and an e a r l y s e p a r a t i o n from t h e i r p a r e n t s . However, the p a r t i c i p a n t s a t present b e l i e v e t h a t they have, or are about to, r e s o l v e these concerns and l e a v e t h e i r p a r e nts' d i v o r c e behind them. W a l l e r s t e i n and B l a k e s l e e ' s (1989) study however suggests some ominous f i n d i n g s . In i t , they note t h a t h a l f of the female s u b j e c t s between 19 and 23 showed s e r i o u s 121 concerns around committing themselves to romantic r e l a t i o n s h i p s . I n t e r e s t i n g l y , W a l l e r s t e i n and B l a k e s l e e ' s (1989) study showed t h a t the men i n t h e i r study f e l t they had l i t t l e d i r e c t i o n i n t h e i r l i v e s or sense of c o n t r o l . The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the p r e s e n t study seemed to suggest they had i n i t i a t e d almost too much d i r e c t i o n i n t h e i r l i v e s , and t h i s tendency to want to always mold and shape t h e i r worlds arose out of t h e i r f e e l i n g s of l i t t l e c o n t r o l over i t . Some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s s t i l l d e s c r i b e f e e l i n g angry, depressed and sad, even though t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e o c c u r r e d f o r some up to s i x years ago. These p a r t i c i p a n t s f e e l t h a t t h i s i s because t h e i r parents never d i d a d j u s t to the d i v o r c e . The p o s t - d i v o r c e homes they grew up i n continued to be ones f i l l e d with t e n s i o n s and f i g h t i n g . These p a r t i c i p a n t s are s t i l l s t r u g g l i n g to put t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e behind them. As one young woman commented, "A l o t of people t h i n k t h a t d i v o r c e , w e l l t h a t ' s i t , but i t c a r r i e s on, l i k e the f i g h t s are s t i l l going on, and i t ' s d i f f i c u l t . " T h i s o b s e r v a t i o n concurs with Hetherington's (1979) comment t h a t the " w e l l - b e i n g of the c h i l d l a t e r depends upon the adjustment of the household" (p. 852). T h i s statement d e s c r i b e s an e s s e n t i a l component i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' a b i l i t y to a d j u s t to t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e . Those p a r t i c i p a n t s who f e l t t h a t the d i v o r c e d i d not a f f e c t them g r e a t l y a l s o b e l i e v e d t h a t t h e i r home had changed l i t t l e a f t e r the d i v o r c e , and or b e l i e v e d t h a t the r e s u l t i n g home was warm and s u p p o r t i v e . 122 While p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e does seem t o e x e r c i s e some l o n g - l a s t i n g e f f e c t s , o v e r a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study appear t o have made the t r a n s i t i o n s the d i v o r c e r e q u i r e d of them with success, i n s i g h t and an i n c r e a s e d sense of p e r s o n a l d i g n i t y and mastery. Out of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' f e e l i n g s of powerlessness and d e p r e s s i o n there has grown an i n c r e a s e d sense of agency and c o n t r o l over t h e i r own d e s t i n i e s . Schwartzberg (1981) comments, " I f the d i s r u p t i o n [of the f a m i l y ] does not come p r i o r t o normal detachment, independence and maturation may even be f a c i l i t a t e d . The a d o l e s c e n t may be able to 'transform' f e e l i n g s of h e l p l e s s n e s s i n t o a sense of c o n t r o l by a c t i v e mastery" (p. 122). The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study would suggest t h a t e x p e r i e n c i n g p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e does come p r i o r t o n a t u r a l detachment, and th a t t h i s experience can promote the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of f e e l i n g s of h e l p l e s s n e s s i n t o f e e l i n g s of p e r s o n a l power. E x p e r i e n c i n g p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e spurred the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study to f e e l the need f o r i n c r e a s e d p e r s o n a l c o n t r o l i n t h e i r l i v e s . F e e l i n g h e l p l e s s over the sudden l o s s of t h e i r c h i l d h o o d world and b e l i e f s a s s o c i a t e d with t h a t world caused them to decide t h a t , w i t h i n t h e i r own l i v e s , they would take charge. I t appears t h a t the d i v o r c e has a l s o p r e c i p i t a t e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s to r e e v a l u a t e and ex p l o r e t h e i r b e l i e f systems. Consequently, I f e e l t h a t the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study showed g r e a t e r m a t u r i t y and p e r s o n a l i n s i g h t than i s customary f o r t h i s age. The p a r t i c i p a n t s a l s o b e l i e v e d t h i s t o be t r u e . They had experienced a gre a t need f o r c o n t r o l i n t h e i r l i v e s , and were l e a r n i n g to g i v e t h i s need up i n favour of 123 e x p e r i e n c i n g l i f e as i t r e a l l y i s . T h e i r f r i e n d s from non-divorced homes, they f e l t , had never f e l t t h i s need, or even begun to q u e s t i o n l i f e t o the degree they have. What then was the experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e l i k e f o r these g i r l s , and how d i d i t change t h e i r l i v e s ? The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study d e s c r i b e d e x p e r i e n c i n g t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e as something very p a i n f u l , and t h i s evoked a number of emotions f o r them such as f e e l i n g s of l o s s , abandonment, shock, and v u l n e r a b i l i t y . The p a r t i c i p a n t s a l s o i d e n t i f i e d s e v e r a l i s s u e s t h a t arose out of the l o s s e s and changes they experienced. The most profound i s s u e s centered upon t h e i r degenerated r e l a t i o n s h i p s with one of t h e i r p a r e n t s , the demands made upon t h e i r sense of f a m i l y , and the b e l i e f s t h a t developed from e x p e r i e n c i n g a p o w e r f u l l y u n c o n t r o l l a b l e and unhappy event. T h i s study argues that i n response to the d i v o r c e , the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' emotions, i s s u e s , and b e l i e f s seemed to occur i n a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n and sequence. F i r s t , the p a r t i c i p a n t s endured the p a i n f u l emotions evoked by the d i v o r c e , then experienced the changes i n t h e i r environment, and then began to adapt to these changes by a l t e r i n g t h e i r b e l i e f systems. Those p a r t i c i p a n t s t h a t appear to have r e s o l v e d t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e have completed t h i s sequence. That they have r e s o l v e d these i s s u e s i s shown by t h e i r acceptance of the very i s s u e s they d e s c r i b e d as p r e v i o u s l y being areas of concern, t h a t they p e r c e i v e t h e i r l i v e s p o s i t i v e l y now, and d e s c r i b e themselves as having accepted the d i v o r c e . These p a r t i c i p a n t s have managed to transform t h e i r f e e l i n g s of v u l n e r a b i l i t y , which arguably were c r e a t e d by the 124 d i v o r c e , i n t o f e e l i n g s of agency and mastery over t h e i r l i v e s . Where once they had d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g , they now say they f e e l secure enough to f e e l i n s e c u r e . For other p a r t i c i p a n t s though the c y c l e i s s t i l l imcomplete. They have not yet r e s o l v e d some or a l l of the i s s u e s the d i v o r c e p r e c i p i t a t e d . For some p a r t i c i p a n t s , t h i s seems to be because they have denied or r e p r e s s e d t h e i r f e e l i n g s about t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e . Much of t h e i r energy i s s t i l l channeled i n t o t r y i n g to p e r c e i v e the d i v o r c e as being l e s s p a i n f u l than i t probably was f o r them. Also, some p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e s t i l l h aving d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g , s t i l l appear to have concerns around p e r s o n a l c o n t r o l , and appear s t i l l angry and b i t t e r about the d i v o r c e . These p a r t i c i p a n t s seem to have not e x p l o r e d t h e i r b e l i e f s as thoroughly as the p a r t i c i p a n t s who have r e s o l v e d the d i v o r c e . They are stuck i n a b e l i e f system which causes them to t r y and p r o t e c t themselves through c o n s t a n t l y e x e r t i n g c o n t r o l over t h e i r worlds. The movement through these four processes i s gradual and d i f f u s e . The process of r e s o l u t i o n does not occur o v e r n i g h t , and p a r t i c i p a n t s move back and f o r t h between the b e l i e f s t h a t arose out of the d i v o r c e , and the r e s o l u t i o n of these b e l i e f s . O v e r a l l , more of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study seem to have r e s o l v e d these i s s u e s than have the p a r t i c i p a n t s who have not. For those p a r t i c i p a n t s who have not, knowledge of these processes may be u s e f u l . From a c o u n s e l l i n g p e r s p e c t i v e , p a r t i c i p a n t s may be a s s i s t e d by r e c o g n i z i n g how the d i v o r c e caused them to f e e l v u l n e r a b l e , and how they may be responding to t h e i r worlds to 125 h e l p defend a g a i n s t t h i s f e e l i n g . I t may a l s o be h e l p f u l to be aware of the powerful emotional responses d i v o r c e c r e a t e s , and to h e l p p a r t i c i p a n t s f e e l able to c o n f r o n t t h e i r f e e l i n g s around the d i v o r c e . Last, I found t h a t the i n t e r v i e w process was v a l i d a t i n g f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Most s a i d they had never t a l k e d about the d i v o r c e t h i s i n t i m a t e l y or i n t e n s e l y with anyone e l s e b e f o r e . I t was v a l i d a t i n g f o r them to recognize t h a t t h e i r experience was a shared one, and t h a t t h e i r f e e l i n g s and responses were normal. At the beginning of t h i s t h e s i s I used the s t o r y of Sysyphus t o d e s c r i b e how i n d i v i d u a l s choose to assume c o n t r o l over t h e i r own d e s t i n i e s r a t h e r than a s s i g n i n g t h a t c o n t r o l o u t s i d e of themselves. I b e l i e v e the s t o r y of Sysyphus continues to serve as an apt metaphor to d e s c r i b e the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' i n c r e a s e d m a t u r i t y and f l e x i b i l i t y . Most of these young women have decided i t i s b e t t e r to experience l i f e i n a l l of i t s v i c i s s i t u d e s than to impose an a r t i f i c i a l r e a l i t y upon i t . L i k e Sysyphus, these g i r l s chose to r e t r e a t from p s y c h o l o g i c a l darkness to the r i c h completeness of l i f e , and i n t h i s c h o i c e are w i l l i n g t o e xperience f u l l y the c a p r i c e s of l i f e . 126 Summary of F i n d i n g s Many of the f i n d i n g s of t h i s study confirm e x i s t i n g r e s e a r c h on the t o p i c . Divorce i s a traumatic event f o r c h i l d r e n to undergo, and t h i s trauma can be l o n g - l a s t i n g . The r e s u l t s from l o n g i t u d i n a l s t u d i e s on c h i l d r e n from d i v o r c e d homes are r e l a t i v e l y new, and these f i n d i n g s are suggesting t h a t c h i l d r e n ' s experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e can c r e a t e more long-term s u f f e r i n g than had been o r i g i n a l l y a n t i c i p a t e d . The pr e s e n t study, i n p a r t , seems to c o n f i r m t h i s f i n d i n g . T h i s study sought to explore l a t e a d o l e s c e n t s ' experience of t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e . Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s had undergone t h i s experience at l e a s t f i v e years p r i o r t o the study, and so had had ample time t o r e f l e c t upon the changes they witnessed w i t h i n themselves. What the present study found which was new to the f i e l d was t h a t many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d l e a r n i n g to f e e l powerless as a r e s u l t of t h e i r p a r e n t s ' d i v o r c e , and to h e l p overcome t h i s f e e l i n g the p a r t i c i p a n t s tended t o o v e r - c o n t r o l t h e i r l i v e s . L e arning to f e e l more f l e x i b l e and to stop s e a r c h i n g f o r u l t i m a t e c o n t r o l has taken most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s the bulk of t h e i r adolescence t o r e s o l v e . The movement of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' r e s o l u t i o n of d i v o r c e has been d i v i d e d i n t o f o u r processes, or stages. These pro c e s s e s are a new way of i n t e r p r e t i n g the experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e , p a r t i c u l a r l y from a long-term p e r s p e c t i v e . While t h i s study concurs with W a l l e r s t e i n and B l a k e s l e e ' s 127 (1989) d e s c r i p t i o n o f the d i v o r c e process being the s i n g l e g r e a t e s t cause of p a i n i n c h i l d r e n ' s l i v e s , the f i n a l process of r e s o l u t i o n d e s c r i b e d by t h i s study suggests t h a t most p a r t i c i p a n t s e v e n t u a l l y are able t o r e s o l v e the i s s u e s c r e a t e d by e x p e r i e n c i n g p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . When and i f r e s o l u t i o n o c c u r s , there appears to develop an i n c r e a s e d sense of agency and m a t u r i t y , and t h i s f i n d i n g d i f f e r s from W a l l e r s t e i n and B l a k e s l e e ' s (1989) study. T h i s study a l s o i l l u s t r a t e s t h a t the removal of a parent from an ado l e s c e n t ' s home i s a d i f f i c u l t event to a d j u s t t o , however f o r most p a r t i c i p a n t s the g r e a t e r and more p a i n f u l adjustment occurred with the i n t r o d u c t i o n of stepparents and s t e p s i b l i n g s . Stepparents seemed t o c r e a t e a f i n a l , and unacceptable i m p o s i t i o n upon the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l was i n t e r p r e t e d using a t h e o r e t i c a l framework which seems to be a new way of understanding the d i v o r c e experience. Using some of the ten e t s of j u s t world theory and a t t r i b u t i o n theory helped to i l l u s t r a t e the d i v o r c e process from a new p e r s p e c t i v e . 128 L i m i t a t i o n s of the Study and Suggestions f o r Further Research A phenomenological study does not seek to t e s t hypotheses, r a t h e r i t seeks to d e f i n e the r i c h n e s s of an exp e r i e n c e . From t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e then i t i s d i f f i c u l t to g e n e r a l i z e the f i n d i n g s o f t h i s study beyond the p a r t i c i p a n t s s t u d i e d . However, t h i s study d i d produce some new i n s i g h t s which may w e l l be s u i t e d to f u r t h e r e x p l o r a t i o n u t i l i z i n g a d i f f e r e n t methodology. In p a r t i c u l a r , i t would be i n t e r e s t i n g to explore whether the four processes t h i s study d e s c r i b e d are p r o t o t y p i c a l of the g e n e r a l experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . A l s o , r e s e a r c h might exp l o r e f u r t h e r the i s s u e of c o n t r o l . W a l l e r s t e i n and B l a k e s l e e (1989) suggests t h a t d i v o r c e has a lo n g - r e a c h i n g , o f t e n d e t r i m e n t a l e f f e c t upon c h i l d r e n . The f i n d i n g s from t h i s study suggest t h a t perhaps the c h i l d r e n ' s b e l i e f t h a t the world i s u n c o n t r o l l a b l e may be the b a s i s f o r some of t h e i r d i f f i c u l t y i n a d j u s t i n g . One obvious l i m i t a t i o n of t h i s study i s i t s focus on onl y female a d o l e s c e n t s . W a l l e r s t e i n and B l a k e s l e e ' s (1989) study suggests t h a t males r e a c t d i f f e r e n t l y as young a d u l t s to p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e than do females. F u r t h e r research then could focus on both male and female responses t o p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . 129 Summary Th i s study sought to examine a d o l e s c e n t g i r l s ' experience of t h e i r parents' d i v o r c e . I n t e r v i e w i n g e i g h t adolescent g i r l s from ages 16 to 19 twice p r o v i d e d the study with a r i c h d e s c r i p t i o n o f the d i v o r c e experience. The i n t e r v i e w s showed t h a t while each p a r t i c i p a n t experienced her parents' d i v o r c e i n her own unique f a s h i o n , a number of common themes d i d develop. These themes, or t o p i c a l headings, were compiled i n t o four processes which d e s c r i b e d the p r o g r e s s i o n of the experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e . These processes were the immediate experience of d i v o r c e , the process o f adapting t o environmental change, the l e a r n i n g and growing process, and the process of r e s t r u c t u r i n g meaning and moving toward r e s o l u t i o n . A comparison of the l i t e r a t u r e on the t o p i c of c h i l d r e n ' s experience of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e showed some s i m i l a r i t i e s with the pre s e n t study. The experience of d i v o r c e o f t e n produces long-term trauma which i s best reduced by the q u a l i t y o f the p o s t - d i v o r c e home (Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1985). W a l l e r s t e i n and B l a k e s l e e ' s (1989) study suggests t h a t c h i l d r e n can continue t o have p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s w e l l i n t o e a r l y adulthood. While the d i v o r c e continued to be,an i s s u e f o r many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , t h i s study's f i n d i n g s suggest t h a t most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s were w e l l on t h e i r way to r e s o l v i n g the p a i n o f the d i v o r c e . I t appeared t h a t the process of r e s o l u t i o n l a y i n a l t e r i n g the c o g n i t i v e l e s s o n s many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s had made as a r e s u l t of t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e . Many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s c r i b e d having a. h i g h need f o r c o n t r o l , and the i n t r o d u c t i o n 130 of i n c r e a s e d f l e x i b i l i t y came only through e v e n t u a l l y a c c e p t i n g l i f e ' s changeable nature, which i n a sense was a l s o a c c e p t i n g t h e i r p a r e n ts' d i v o r c e . T h i s study a l s o d e s c r i b e d how d i v o r c e a l t e r s the dynamics of the p o s t - d i v o r c e home, and the e f f e c t s these a l t e r e d dynamics appear t o e x e r t . A t t r i b u t i o n theory and j u s t world theory were used to examine the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l . P a r t i c i p a n t s ' need f o r c o n t r o l , i t was argued, arose out of t h e i r o r i g i n a l assumption t h a t the world was unjust and u n p r e d i c t a b l e , and t h i s seemed t o lead to f e e l i n g s of h e l p l e s s n e s s . In the second i n t e r v i e w with the p a r t i c i p a n t s I shared some of my i n s i g h t s i n t o t h e i r experience. We found three themes which were a new way of l o o k i n g at t h e i r experience. These themes were: why the p a r t i c i p a n t s p e r c e i v e d t h e i r stepparents n e g a t i v e l y , how d i v o r c e hastens the n a t u r a l s e p a r a t i o n process between c h i l d r e n and t h e i r parents, and the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' need f o r c o n t r o l i n t h e i r l i v e s . 131 References Abbey, A. (1987). P e r c e p t i o n s of p e r s o n a l a v o i d a b i l i t y versus r e s p o n s i b i l i t y : How do they d i f f e r ? B a s i c and A p p l i e d S o c i a l Psychology, 8(1 & 2), 3-19. Abramson, L . Y., Seligman, M. E., & Teasdale, J . D. (1978). Learned h e l p l e s s n e s s i n humans: C r i t i q u e and r e f o r m u l a t i o n . J o u r n a l of Abnormal Psychology, 87(1) , 49-74. Ambert, A. M. (1980). Divorce i n Canada. Don M i l l s : Academic Press. Anthony, E. J . (1974). C h i l d r e n at r i s k from d i v o r c e : A review. In E. J . Anthony & C. Koupernik (Eds.), The c h i l d i n h i s f a m i l y : C h i l d r e n at p s y c h i a t r i c r i s k (pp. 461-478). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Brown, J . D., & S i e g e l , J . M. (1988). A t t r i b u t i o n s f o r negative l i f e events and d e p r e s s i o n : The r o l e of p e r c e i v e d c o n t r o l . J o u r n a l of P e r s o n a l i t y and S o c i a l Psychology, _5_4 ( 2 ) , 316-322. Bruyn, S. T. (1970). Q u a l i t a t i v e methodology. Chicago: Mortham P u b l i s h i n g Co. Camus, A. (1955). The myth of sisyphus ( J . O'Brien, Trans.) New York: Vintage Books. Forehand, R., Middleton, K., & Long, N. (1987). Adolescent f u n c t i o n i n g as a consequence of r e c e n t p a r e n t a l - d i v o r c e and the p a r e n t - a d o l e s c e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p . J o u r n a l of A p p l i e d Developmental Psychology, 8, 305-315. 132 G i l l i g a n , C. (1982). In a d i f f e r e n t v o i c e . Cambridge: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . G i o r g i , A., deKoning, A., & Ashworth, P. (Eds.). (1986). Q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h i n psychology. P i t t s b u r g h : Duquesne U n i v e r s i t y Press. G i o r g i , A. (Ed.). (1985). Phenomenological and p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h . P i t t s b u r g h : Duquesne U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . G i o r g i , A. (1975). An a p p l i c a t i o n of phenomenological method i n psychology. In A. G i o r g i , C. V. F i s c h e r , & E. Murray (Eds.), Duquesne s t u d i e s i n phenomenological psychology: V o l . II (pp. 82-103). P i t t s b u r g h : Duquesne U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . G u i d u b a l d i , J . , & Perry, J . D. (1985). Divorce and mental h e a l t h sequelae f o r c h i l d r e n : A two year follow-up of a nationwide sample. J o u r n a l of the American Academy of C h i l d P s y c h i a t r y , _2_4 ( 5 ) , 531-537. Hammen, C. (1987). The causes and consequences of a t t r i b u t i o n r e s e a r c h on d e p r e s s i o n . J o u r n a l of S o c i a l and C l i n i c a l Psychology, 5_(4), 485-500. Hetherington, E. M. (1979). Divorce a c h i l d ' s p e r s p e c t i v e . American P s y c h o l o g i s t , _3_4(10), 851-858. Hetherington, E. M., Cox, M., & Cox, R. (1985). Long-term e f f e c t s of d i v o r c e and remarriage on the adjustment of c h i l d r e n . J o u r n a l of the American Academy of C h i l d P s y c h i a t r y , 2A{5), 518-530. Homer. (1963). The odyssey (R. F i t z g e r a l d , T r a n s . ) . New York: Anchor Books. 133 Ivey, A. E., & Simek-Downing, L. (1980). Counseling and psychotherapy: S k i l l s , t h e o r i e s , and p r a c t i c e . Englewood C l i f f s : P r e n t i c e - H a l l . Janoff-Bulman, R. (1979). C h a r a c t e r o l o g i c a l versus b e h a v i o r a l s e l f - b l a m e : I n q u i r i e s i n t o d e p r e s s i o n and rape. J o u r n a l of P e r s o n a l i t y and S o c i a l Psychology, _3_7(10), 1798-1809. Jung, C , (1928). C o n t r i b u t i o n s to a n a l y t i c a l psychology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. K e l l e y , H. (1971). A t t r i b u t i o n s i n s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n . Los Angeles: U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a Press. K e l l y , J . B. (1981). Observations on adolescent r e l a t i o n s h i p s f i v e years a f t e r d i v o r c e . Adolescent P s y c h i a t r y , 133-141. K e l l e y , H. H., & M i c h e l a , J . L. (1980). A t t r i b u t i o n theory and r e s e a r c h . Annual Review of Psychology, 31, 457-501. K e r l i n g e r , F. N. (1986). Foundations of b e h a v i o r a l r e s e a r c h (3rd ed.). New York: H o l t , Rinehart and Winston. Lerner, M. J . , & M i l l e r , D. T. (1978). J u s t world r e s e a r c h and the a t t r i b u t i o n p r o c e s s : Looking back and ahead. P s y c h o l o g i c a l B u l l e t i n , 85_( 5) , 1030-1051. M i s h l e r , E. G. (1979). Meaning i n c o n t e x t : Is there any other kind? Harvard E d u c a t i o n a l Review, 49^(1), 1-18. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Girgus, J . , & Seligman, M. E. P. (1986). Learned h e l p l e s s n e s s i n c h i l d r e n : A l o n g i t u d i n a l study of d e pression, achievement and e x p l a n a t o r y s t y l e . J o u r n a l of P e r s o n a l i t y and S o c i a l Psychology, _51_( 2) , 435-442. 134 Parry, N. (1986). F a c t o r s a f f e c t i n g a d o l e s c e n t s ' adjustment t o p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e and t h e i r i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r c o u n s e l l o r s . Unpublished master's major paper, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver. Rice, F. P. (1981). The a d o l e s c e n t : Development, r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and c u l t u r e . Boston: A l l y n and Bacon. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. (1975). Who b e l i e v e s i n a j u s t world? J o u r n a l of S o c i a l Issues, _3_1(3), 65-89. Sandelowski, M. (1986). The problem of r i g o r i n q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h . ANS, 8(3), 27-37. Santrock, J . W. (1987). The e f f e c t s of d i v o r c e on a d o l e s c e n t s : Needed rese a r c h p e r s p e c t i v e s . Family Therapy, 14(2), 147-159. Schutz, A. (1971). C o l l e c t e d papers I : The problem of s o c i a l r e a l i t y . The Hague: N i j h o f f . Schwartzberg, A. (1981). Divorce and c h i l d r e n and a d o l e s c e n t s : An overview. Adolescent P s y c h i a t r y , 9_, 119-131. Sherman, R., & Fredman, N. (1986). Handbook of s t r u c t u r e d techniques i n marriage and f a m i l y therapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel. Smart, N. (1976). The r e l i g i o u s experience of mankind (2nd ed.). New York: Charles S c r i b n e r ' s Sons. Spradley, J . (1979). The ethnographic i n t e r v i e w . New York: H o l t Rinehart & Winston. S u l l i v a n , E. V. (1984). A c r i t i c a l psychology: I n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the p e r s o n a l world. New York: Plenum Press. W a l l e r s t e i n , J . & B l a k e s l e e , S. (1989). Second chances: Men, women, and c h i l d r e n a decade a f t e r d i v o r c e . New York: Ticknow & F i e l d s . W a l l e r s t e i n , J . (1985). C h i l d r e n of d i v o r c e : P r e l i m i n a r y r e p o r t of a ten year follow-up of o l d e r c h i l d r e n and a d o l e s c e n t s . J o u r n a l of the American Academy of C h i l d P s y c h i a t r y , 2A{5), 545-553. W a l l e r s t e i n , J . S. (1985). C h i l d r e n of d i v o r c e : Recent r e s e a r c h . J o u r n a l of the American Academy of C h i l d P s y c h i a t r y S p e c i a l S e c t i o n , _24_( 5 ) , 515-517. W a l l e r s t e i n , J . S., & K e l l y , J . B. (1980). S u r v i v i n g the breakup: How c h i l d r e n and parents cope with d i v o r c e . New York: Bas i c Books. W a l l e r s t e i n , J . S. & K e l l y , J . B. (1974). The e f f e c t s of p a r e n t a l d i v o r c e : The adolescent experience. In E. J . Anthony & C. Koupernik (Eds.), The c h i l d i n h i s f a m i l y : C h i l d r e n at p s y c h i a t r i c r i s k (pp. 479-505). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Wortman, C. B., & D i n t z e r , L. (1978). Is an a t t r i b u t i o n a l a n a l y s i s of the l e a r n e d h e l p l e s s n e s s phenomenon v i a b l e ? : A c r i t i q u e of the Abramson Seligman-Teasdale r e f o r m u l a t i o n . J o u r n a l of Abnormal Psychology, 87(1), 75-90. Young, R. A., & Marks, S. E. (1986). Understanding a t t r i b u t i o n a l processes i n c r o s s - c u l t u r a l c o u n s e l l i n g . I n t e r n a t i o n a l J o u r n a l f o r the Advancement of C o u n s e l l i n g , 9, 319-330. 138 Appendix C Interview Guide - F i r s t Interview 1. Would you d e s c r i b e what i t was l i k e f o r you d u r i n g your pa r e n t s ' d i v o r c e ? 2. Do you remember what i t was l i k e f o r you when you were f i r s t t o l d ? Where were you? Who were you with? What d i d you do a f t e r you l e a r n e d about i t ? 3. What i s i t l i k e f o r you now? 4. Can you t e l l me the s t o r y of your parents' d i v o r c e ? 5. Can you d e s c r i b e the events t h a t you t h i n k l e d up to the d i v o r c e . 6. Do you f e e l l i k e you had any c o n t r o l over the d i v o r c e ? 7. Does the f a c t t h a t your parents' d i v o r c e d make any sense t o you? 8. Did you f e e l l i k e you had much c o n t r o l over what happened? What was t h a t f e e l i n g l i k e ? 9. Do you b e l i e v e t h a t your parents' d i v o r c e has changed the way t h a t you t h i n k about t h i n g s ? 10. Do you f e e l t h a t you are a d i f f e r e n t person s i n c e the d i v o r c e ? In what ways are you d i f f e r e n t , what ways the same? 11. In what ways has the d i v o r c e not a f f e c t e d you? 12. Could you d e s c r i b e whether there are ways you t h i n k your parent's d i v o r c e could a f f e c t your own r e l a t i o n s h i p s or f u t u r e r e l a t i o n s h i p s ? 13. What have you l e a r n e d about l i f e s i n c e you l e a r n e d your parents were d i v o r c i n g ? 14. Is there anything e l s e important about your parents' d i v o r c e t h a t h e l p s to d e s c r i b e your experience of i t ? 139 Appendix D Interview Guide - Second Interview 1. S t r e s s e s evoked by stepparents a) i n i t i a l j e a l o u s y over parents' l o v e r s . b) continued j e a l o u s y and f r u s t r a t i o n s around parents' l o v e r s . c) s t e p p a r e n t j e a l o u s of c h i l d ' s r e l a t i o n s h i p with spouse. d) parents j e a l o u s , b i t t e r and h o s t i l e towards exspouse's lovers. e) resentment and f e e l i n g of d i s l o y a l t y around a c c e p t i n g stepparent i n p a r e n t a l r o l e - f) would l i k e stepparent t o assume p a r e n t a l r o l e . g) complicated sense of abandonment t h a t stems from parent s i d i n g with l o v e r s i n s t e a d of with t h e i r own c h i l d r e n . h) adjustment to s t e p b r o t h e r s and s t e p s i s t e r s and h a l f - b r o t h e r s and s i s t e r s . 2. R e l a t i o n s h i p between parents and c h i l d i s a l t e r e d a) r i f t i s c r e a t e d between one c h i l d and one parent. b) deep sense of l o s s over t h i s r i f t , and anger. c) d i v o r c e p r e c i p i t a t e s a c l o s e r , warmer r e l a t i o n s h i p with one parent. d) p r o t e c t s and parents one parent. e) p l a y s mediator r o l e , very h u r t f u l t o witness parents blame and hate each other. f) r a r e l y a r t i c u l a t e f e e l i n g s and experience of d i v o r c e . T h i s i s p a r t l y because i t i s d i f f i c u l t to t a l k about the d i v o r c e to one or both parents because of t h e i r anger and p a i n . D i s c u s s i n g the experience of the d i v o r c e then i s not modelled w i t h i n the f a m i l y . g) resentment around e x p e c t a t i o n s parents and f a m i l y h o l d of the c h i l d r e n i e . are expected to p l a y r o l e s such as p r e t e n d i n g e v e r y t h i n g i s okay, or t h a t they d i d not hear f i g h t i n g . h) parent d i r e c t s h i s / h e r anger from ex-spouse toward c h i l d i e c h i l d i s t o l d she i s l i k e her father/mother. 3. R e l a t i o n s h i p between c h i l d and s i b l i n g s i s a l t e r e d . a) enemy camps are e s t a b l i s h e d between s i b l i n g s . b) become much c l o s e r t o s i b l i n g s , draw s t r e n g t h from them • c) s i b l i n g s become an i n t e r i m f a m i l y . d) without s i b l i n g s , c h i l d ' s r e l a t i o n s h i p with c u s t o d i a l parent i s deepened and i n some ways more dependent. 4 . View of world threatened a) q u e s t i o n what i s m o r a l i t y when witness parents defy t h e i r own moral code. b) knowledge of p a r e n t a l a f f a i r s i s experienced as h i g h l y t h r e a t e n i n g . c) d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g people. d) sense of abandonment from one parent l e a v i n g , but a b l e to r a t i o n a l i z e and understand t h i s . e) s h a t t e r i n g of t h e i r b e l i e f i n a j u s t , p r e d i c t a b l e world. f) the world i s not p r e d i c t a b l e , t h e r e f o r e you must be f l e x i b l e . 140 g) sense of d i s t o r t e d , c o n f u s i n g r e a l i t y . h) l i f e i s u n p r e d i c t a b l e . i ) c o n t r o l over my own l i f e i s very important. 5. Family breakdown a) e f f e c t s sense of p e r s o n a l m o t i v a t i o n - drew m o t i v a t i o n from f a m i l y , consequently must now begin to d i r e c t m o t i v a t i o n i n t e r n a l l y , school performance o f t e n a f f e c t e d . b) engaged i n r e b e l l i o u s behaviour which u s u a l l y s u r f a c e d a year a f t e r the d i v o r c e and continued f o r a few y e a r s . I f d i d not a c t u a l l y r e b e l , may have considered i t . c) questioned i d e n t i t y , i e should I be a r e b e l , who am I now? d) drew a g r e a t d e a l of i d e n t i t y from f a m i l y . e) sense of abandonment as c u s t o d i a l parent withdraws w i t h i n s e l f . f) f e e l s n e g l e c t e d , a l o n e . g) blames one or both parent f o r p a r t i c u l a r behaviours. 6 . Changing homes a) h o l i d a y phenomenon with n o n - c u s t o d i a l parent. b) now has the o p t i o n of l i v i n g with other f a m i l y - e f f e c t s the r e l a t i o n s h i p with c u s t o d i a l parents as c h i l d f o r f i r s t time has r e a l b a r g a i n i n g power. c) changing homes very u n s e t t l i n g . d) changing schools i s t h r e a t e n i n g and a f f e c t s many areas of l i f e i e c h i l d experiences more l o s s e s such as f r i e n d s , f a m i l i a r i t y , grades a f f e c t e d . e) emotional tug of war f o r c h i l d r e n when c o n s i d e r i n g who to l i v e with - very d r a i n i n g e m o t i o n a l l y , want to p r o t e c t p a r e n t s . 7. Gained m a t u r i t y a) understand t h a t experience b r i n g s i n s i g h t and growth, consequently even p a i n f u l experience has i t s good s i d e . b) f e e l c o u l d d e a l b e t t e r with d i v o r c e i n t h e i r own l i f e as have a l r e a d y experienced i t once - have faced the l i o n i n i t s den. c) b e l i e v e the d i v o r c e was f o r the b e s t - p r e f e r t h a t parents l i v e a p a r t h a p p i l y than together unhappily, although the former i s not always a given occurrence. d) s t r o n g sense of p e r s o n a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . I n s i s t upon t h e i r own independence and being able to support s e l v e s . e) sense of independence cause c r e a t e disagreements with c u s t o d i a l parent. f) f r i e n d s are s u p p o r t i v e - but do not r e a l l y understand. g) grew up q u i c k l y , more mature i n many ways now than t h e i r f r i e n d s . 8 . Views on r e l a t i o n s h i p s a) w o r l d l y , s o p h i s t i c a t e d , r e a l i s t i c views of r e l a t i o n s h i p s . b) don't want to rush i n t o marriage. c) d i f f i c u l t y t r u s t i n g men and f r i e n d s . d) f r i g h t e n e d of d i v o r c e dogging them. e) w i l l i n g t o accept changing nature of r e l a t i o n s h i p s . 141 f) d e s p e r a t e l y do not want to make the same r e l a t i o n s h i p mistakes t h e i r parents made. g) b e l i e v e they could make good stepparents because of t h e i r own experience, but would p r e f e r to avoid t h i s type of f a m i l y f o r themselves. h) p l a n t o be c a u t i o u s , choosy and work hard at own r e l a t i o n s h i p s . 9. Finances a) resentment toward one parent, u s u a l l y the f a t h e r , over f i n a n c i a l support. b) f e e l s p a i n over mother's s u f f e r i n g and anger at l i m i t e d f i n a n c i a l support from ex-husband. c) money used as a weapon. d) does not ever want t o be f i n a n c i a l l y dependent l i k e her mother. 1 0 . Sense of f a m i l y a) mourns l o s s of t r a d i t i o n a l , happy f a m i l y , p a r t i c u l a r l y the l o s s of s t a b i l i t y . b) accepts d i v o r c e d f a m i l y as the norm. c) sense of t r a d i t i o n i s l o s t , mourns t h i s l o s s i e Christmas. d) weird having new b r o t h e r s and s i s t e r s much younger than s e l f . e) f i g h t i n g between parents h u r t f u l and p a i n f u l , f e e l s h e l p l e s s . f) t e n s i o n i n home. 1 1 . Experience of the d i v o r c e a) p a i n f u l . b) f e l t t o r n , caught i n the middle. c) deep sense of l o s s . d) deep sadness. e) extremely p e r v a s i v e experience. f) f e l t a l o n e . g) confused. h) h e l p l e s s , no c o n t r o l . 1 2 . Ways of coping a) deny experience. b) keep p e r s o n a l c o n t r o l . c) do w e l l at s c h o o l . d) s h i f t focus to f r i e n d s . e) r e p r e s s p a i n f u l memories. f) s h i f t focus to s i b l i n g s . g) d i r e c t anger outward i e school or parent or st e p p a r e n t . h) d i r e c t anger inward, i e s e l f .

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