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Adjustment to Parental Divorce and Remarriage: An Examination of the Impact of Gender and Temperament in Children

20 April 2007


Throughout the extant literature on parental divorce and remarriage, researchers have studied the behavioral, emotional, and academic outcomes in children adjusting to family transitions. Overall, researchers have found these outcomes to be largely negative, emphasizing that children of divorced parents are generally less socially, emotionally, and academically well-adjusted than children in non-divorced families (Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan, 1999). However, there is also a growing recognition cif the great diversity in children's responses to divorce and remarriage. Although many children experience more adverse consequences in adjustment, showing more intense and deleterious. outcomes, some children have been found to be more resilient in response to parental divorce and to display an ability to cope constructively with the changes and challenges · of the new family situation (Hethington & Stanley-Hagan). The vulnerability of some children and the resiliency of others have led researchers to question and explore what factors may influence individual differences in adjustment. According to Lengua, Sandler, West, Wolchik, and CUlTan (1999), stable child characteristics, such as gender and temperament are believed to have the greatest effect on adaptive outcomes. This critical literature review elucidates the impact of gender and temperament in relation to other variables, in predicting children's adjustinent during and after marital family transitions. Concltisions from this review indicate that individual characteristics, such as gender and temperament do greatly contribute to children's adjustment and either protect or increase their vulnerability to long-term adverse effects following parental divorce and temaniage. In other words, the results of the present review suggest that the effects of gender and temperament can help predict children who are at risk for developing adjustment problems and with further research, can improve our ability to identify the children who would most likely benefit from targeted preventive interventions .


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