A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF DIVORCED FAMILIES AND FAMILIES UTILIZING SUPERVISED VISITATION SERVICES: CHILD BEHAVIOR, INTERPARENTAL CONFLICT, PARENTING ATTITUDES AND PARENTAL STRESS
Research has repeatedly demonstrated the association between families of divorce and variables of child behavior, interparental conflict and parenting attitudes. However, overall research exploring supervised visitation services and examining these variables in relationship to this population is limited. Furthermore, studies designed to compare these groups (divorced and supervised visitation) is sparse. Overall, children from single parent homes (e.g., divorced and/or supervised visitation situations) tend to have more child behavior and adjustment problems as compared to children of intact families (Hetherington, Cox & Cox; 1982; Portes, Howell, Brown, Eichenberger, & Mas, 1992). However, such problems are not attributed to marital disruption alone but are also impacted by the interparental conflict. In addition, a plethora of literature has suggested that discipline and attitudes toward corporal punishment are associated with child behavior and adjustment problems (Kurtz, Gardin, Wodarski, & Howing, 1993; Strassberg, Dodge, Pettit & Bates, 1994; Tunner & Finkelhor, 1996). Finally there is ample research linking parenting stress and trauma to all of these variables: child behavior, interparental conflict, and parenting practices and beliefs. Thus, the interplay of these variables and the way in which they impact both divorced and supervised visitation families was explored in the present study. Results yielded a number of significant findings. Partner psychological aggression and self negotiation scores were significantly higher in the supervised visitation sample than in the divorced sample. Scores on numerous child behavior indices (e.g., social behavior, attention, and total child behavior) for males were significantly higher than those for females. In addition gender, but not group membership (e.g., divorce or supervised visitation) had a min effect on total child behavior scores. Results demonstrated a significant relationship between partner injury scores (e.g., interparental violence) and child anxiety/depression scores. Implications of results are explored in terms of needed community services, therapeutic groups, and outreach to underserved populations (e.g., ethnic groups, victims of domestic violence, younger parents). In review of the qualitative data, it was very apparent that the expectations of parents at the supervised visitation center paralleled the goals of the centers as a whole (e.g., protection for the child).
Advisor:Christine Fiore; Margaret Beebe-Frankenberger; Greg Machek; Allen Szalda-Petree; Darrell Stolle
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:10/01/2008