Increasing divorce rates leave more and more children to deal with the separation of their parents. Recent research suggests that children of divorced parents more often experience psychological and physical symptoms than children of non-divorced parents. The processes that mediate the relationship between parental divorce and ill-health, however, are still elusive. This study investigated the mediating role of psychological factors such as resilience and rejection sensitivity on the long-term consequences of parental divorce in young adults. One hundred and ninety-nine participants (mean age 22.3 years) completed an online survey, including measures of mental health, childhood trauma, resilience, and rejection sensitivity. Participants with divorced parents (33 %) reported increased levels of psychological symptoms, childhood trauma, rejection sensitivity, and lower levels of resilience. The association between parental divorce and mental health was fully mediated by resilience, rejection sensitivity, and childhood trauma. The mediation model explained up to 44 % of the total variance in mental health symptoms. Resilience and rejection sensitivity are crucial factors for successful coping with the experience of parental separation. Prevention programs that help to boost children’s resilience might help to reduce the long-term effects of parental divorce on their attachment style (e.g., rejection sensitivity), thereby improving their mental health on the long run. Furthermore, the results call for parental awareness and counseling to target and reduce the observed increased level of childhood trauma. Limitations concern the cross-sectional and retrospective design of the study.
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Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
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Schaan, V.K., Vögele, C. Resilience and rejection sensitivity mediate long-term outcomes of parental divorce. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 25, 1267–1269 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-016-0893-7