Empirical Research

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 593-606

First online:

Adolescent Daughters’ Romantic Competence: The Role of Divorce, Quality of Parenting, and Maternal Romantic History

  • Shmuel ShulmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Bar Ilan University Email author 
  • , Aynat ZlotnikAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Bar Ilan University
  • , Lital Shachar-ShapiraAffiliated withKay Teachers’ College
  • , Jennifer ConnollyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, York University
  • , Yvonne BohrAffiliated withLaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research, York University

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This study examined the links between parental divorce, quality of maternal parenting, spousal relationships and middle adolescent romantic competence in 80 mother-adolescent daughter pairs (40 divorced). Mothers were asked to describe their attitudes and behaviors with regard to their daughters’ romantic behavior. In addition, mothers were interviewed about their own romantic experiences when they were at the age of their daughters. Adolescent girls (mean age = 16.98 years; range 16–18) were administered a comprehensive interview about romantic competence. Findings indicated that adolescent girls from divorced families showed lower levels of romantic competence, which were expressed in their behavior, attitudes toward relationships and skill in handling those relationships. Divorce was found to have had an adverse effect on girls’ romantic competence, whereas continued adaptive parenting and spousal relationships alleviated the effect of divorce. Mothers’ coherent representation of their own adolescent romantic experiences also alleviated the effect of divorce on daughters’ romantic behavior. Results show the important role of family relationships in fostering romantic competence among adolescent girls.


Romantic competence Divorce Parenting Parental history