Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Dr. Robert Apostal


Early investigations of children and adolescents of divorce focused on the short-term negative influence of divorce on children and adolescents from "broken homes." Divorce is still seen as an important mediator in children's development, but other variables dealing with the family dynamics have been shown to be significant factors in the response of children to parental divorce. Few studies have considered the long-term influences of parental conflict and the parent-child relationship on young adults, and no studies have examined their relationship with the development of sense of coherence (SOC).

This study investigated the long-term relationship of parents' marital status, parental conflict, and parent-child relationship to the SOC of young adults. The subjects for the study were 231 undergraduate students 18 to 23 years of age. The SOC (measured by the Orientation To Life Questionnaire) , of adult children of divorce was not significantly different than the SOC of their peers from intact homes. A significant negative relationship (r = -.23, p, < .001) was found between parental conflict and SOC. Significant positive correlations were found between SOC and the quality of the father-child relationship (r = .36, p < .001) and mother-child relationship (r =.35, p < .001). A multiple regression was conducted with SOC used as the dependent variable and father-child relationship, mother-child relationship, parental conflict, gender, number of moves, and parent's marital status serving as tho , independent variables. The parent-child relationships were the only variables to enter the equation with a multiple R of .46 obtained (p < .001). Among the adult children of divorce, the men had a significantly higher SOC · than the women (p < .05). Also, in this group the father-child (r = .45, p < .01) · and stepparent-child (r =.51, p < .05) relationships were positively related to SOC, but the mother-child relationship did not correlate significantly (r = .06, p = .72). The possible benefits of working in therapy toward decreased parental conflict and addressing the parent-child relationships are discussed.

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