ERIC Number: ED321856
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Jun
The Development of Children's Understanding of Marriage and Divorce.
The hypothesis was investigated that, in a structured interview, older children and children from divorced families would express more complex, abstract, and integrated reasoning about marriage and divorce than younger children and children in intact families. It was further hypothesized that children with divorced parents would reach a more complex understanding of family relationships than children whose parents have not separated. Subjects were 119 children between the ages of 5 and 10 in kindergarten and the second and fourth grades. Children were asked both open- and close-ended questions about five main themes in reference to a story line that was illustrated with paper dolls. Themes were: (1) marriage; (2) divorce of a couple without children; (3) divorce of a couple with young children; (4) remarriage; and (5) stepparents. Children were asked questions on marriage and divorce as social institutions and as personal possibilities and on the benefits, problems, and reasons for these marital situations. Findings indicated that the age of the child, not parents' marital status, predicts children's understanding of marriage and divorce. Older children were more likely to express more concrete and practical, and complex and psychological reasoning, than younger children. Younger children were more likely to focus on obvious, superficial behaviors and appearances of spouses, stepparents, and stepchildren. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society (20th, Philadelphia, PA, June, 1990).