The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.

-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia 

Summer
2010

Alone and Unsatisfied


Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson


Compared to adolescents from intact families, adolescents whose parents have divorced lead lives darkened by relative loneliness and dissatisfaction. Two psychological ills that grow in the shadow of parental divorce stand out clearly in a study conducted by Turkish researchers from Pamukkale University.

Analyzing data collected from 863 high-school students, the authors document a clear statistical linkage between parental divorce, on the one hand, and loneliness (p<.01) and diminished life satisfaction (p<.001). These linkages persist in statistical models that account for gender, age at the time of the parental divorce, and contact frequency with the non-residential parent. The conclusion is therefore obvious: “High-school adolescents with divorced parents may be at risk with regard to loneliness and [diminished] life satisfaction.”

Though the researchers examined adolescent loneliness and life satisfaction separately, they were not surprised that an event that fosters loneliness (namely, parental divorce) also depresses life satisfaction. “Loneliness,” they note, “is an important predictor of life satisfaction.”

Champions of liberal divorce laws have promulgated the myth of the resilient child (“Children are tough; after a short period of adjustment, those who have experienced parental divorce will be just fine”). However, the authors of this study stress that “the participants of this study . . . are experiencing the long-term effects of divorce.”

(Nazmiye Çıvıtcı, Asim Çıvıtcı, and N. Ceren Fıyakali, “Loneliness and Life Satisfaction in Adolescents with Divorced and Non-Divorced Parents,” Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice 9.2 [Spring 2009]: 513–25, emphasis added.)

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