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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adolescent girls' experience of parental divorce Rideout, Betty A.


This study was designed to examine adolescent girls experience of their parents' divorce. A review of the literature on this subject indicated that little research had been conducted on the adolescents' experience of parental divorce. The literature also indicated that the painful event of divorce can precipitate a number of emotional, behavioural, and cognitive changes in children. This study utilized a phenomenological methodology. Specifically, the study sought to explore the participants' experience of parental divorce and interpret the results in conjunction with relevant theory. Eight girls from age sixteen to nineteen participated in the study. These girls came from a home where a divorce had occurred within a nine year range, but had occurred at least one year since the time of the interviews. The participants were interviewed twice. The interviews were analyzed using the data analysis process described by Giorgi (1975). This analysis revealed twelve topic areas which were descriptive of the participants' experience of divorce. These topics were then organized around four main content areas, or processes. These processes were the experience of the divorce, the process of adapting to environmental changes, the learning and growing process, and the process of restructuring meaning and moving toward resolution. The results were interpreted utilizing the literature on children from divorced homes, attribution theory, and just world theory. The present study shared many similarities with the literature on divorce, but differed in the degree of depression and maladjustment seen among the participants. The participants in this study, generally, were seen to highly-functioning, healthy individuals. The study also showed how the participants need for control in their lives was related to the theories posed by attribution theory and just world theory.

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