Divorced mothers and their relationship with children-part 1

Tein, Sandler, and Zautra, in the March 2000 Journal of Family Psychology, note that past studies have discussed “diminished parenting” to describe the parenting style seen in divorced mothers. While there are fewer studies on fathers who are primary parents, the same results appear to hold true for them.

Divorced parents are less likely to provide consistent rules and supervision. For example, they set harsh consequences in some instances but ignore problematic behavior in others. Sometimes this varies upon their level of energy and frustration. The inconsistency teaches children that they should first try “getting away with something” because they are likely to get away with it at least some of the time. It’s the same principle as slot machines. You don’t win the majority of the time, but sometimes you do and the pay off is great!

Divorced parents are also prone to use more coercive and controlling behaviors. For example, they give orders and expect them to be obeyed, but fail to follow-up to make sure the child can do them and does. They may have less patience for normal resistance, may be expecting more from their children around the home, and may simply have less energy to patiently explain things or tolerate acting out.

Major stressors in general have been shown to impair mothering by resulting in more controlling, abusive, and punitive parenting behaviors, and less nurturing, spontaneous, and patient parenting behaviors.

Tein, Sandler, and Zautra studied 178 mothers with children between 8 and 12. They saw them once, and then again 5 months later. They found that

Major as well as daily stressors had an effect on mothers’ coping, but daily stressors were three times more stressful. Balancing demands of job, home, and parenting, as well as the unexpected crises that come up, is more taxing than the once-in-a-while emergencies
Mothers’ rejection and consistency of discipline was not significantly related to major or minor stressors; the main effects of stressors may really lie in the decreased positive attention and emotionally rewarding interactions between parent and child. When the parent is stressed, they may not have time or emotional energy to provide the kinds of reassurances and soothing the children needed or are used to. The children become stressed, act out under the pressure of confusing emotions, resentment, and grief, and make matters more stressful in the home Copied from the web.

Parents who could maintain consistent discipline styles also showed more active and less avoidant coping strategies. Such parents are better able to organize their resources, recognize potentially serious child problems, and respond quickly to resolve or mitigate them. The post divorce period is definitely the time to focus on your own adjustment and emotional strength. Going to the gym may take an hour away from your family, but if it helps you work out frustrations, feel stronger and more energetic, and maintain the patience you need, it may well be worth it for everyone for you to go

Social support seeking did not appear to be a significant factor; this may be because support seeking is different from having adequate support. It is possible that those who felt supported did not seek out new support, but those who felt little family and social support found themselves suddenly needing it. As a result, during the post-divorce period, it is probably a good idea to build up social supports, maintain friendships when you can, and ensure some “adult conversation” in your life in person or by phone to make sure you don’t become isolated and alone

Divorced mothers are often embroiled in continued conflict with their ex-husbands over child support, visitation, and unresolved marital issues. Cummings and Davies note that during high conflict times, parents may become less affectionate as well as emotionally rejecting toward their children in one of two ways.

they may become more intrusive in their children’s lives and more negative in their evaluations of the children. This tends to result in aggression and acting out in the children

they may become more depressed and withdraw from the children. This tends to result in decreased energy and interest in the environment, and dejection and withdrawal in the children

Source:  www.psychpage.com


One Comment

  1. Posted February 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    great read

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