Parental discord, divorce and adolescent development

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Summary

The impact of parental discord and divorce on adolescent well-being and behaviour was studied. School children (n = 2194) aged 15 to 16 completed questionnaires in the class-room. Children in divorced families and in families of discord experienced more distress symptoms than children in intact families. Lower school performance was associated with divorce, but not with parental discord. Sex differences were found in self-esteem: girls in divorced families reported the lowest self-esteem, whereas boys in families of discord reported lower self-esteem than boys in the other groups. Group differences in reported self-image were small. Compared with children in intact families, the observed differences were in girls mainly in the divorced group and in boys in the group of marital discord. In both sexes abundant alcohol use and in boys delinquent acts were more common in families of discord or divorce than in intact families.