A structured small-group counseling intervention to assist children with adjustment to divorce

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A structured small-group counseling intervention to assist children with adjustment to divorce
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Sameck, April Merry, 1947-
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Children of divorced parents -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Child psychotherapy   ( lcsh )
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Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
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Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1990.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 107-114).
Statement of Responsibility:
by April Merry Sameck.
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Typescript.
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Vita.

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A STRUCTURED SMALL-GROUP COUNSELING INTERVENTION
TO ASSIST CHILDREN WITH ADJUSTMENT TO DIVORCE










By

APRIL MERRY SAMECK


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1990































Copyright 1990

by

April Merry Sameck









ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


I would like to extend my gratitude to the many

individuals who supported and encouraged me as a graduate

student. A special debt of gratitude is extended to my

family, committee members, and friends.

Foremost I want to thank my children, Karen and Tommy,

for their support, understanding, and love. As children of

divorce themselves, they were a constant inspiration for my

endeavors to learn more about the impact of divorce on

young people.

I wish to extend special gratitude to my committee

chairperson, Dr. Joe Wittmer. His guidance, wisdom, and

encouragement seemed limitless.

I also want to thank Dr. Ellen Amatea for her

technical assistance with this study and her personal

support. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Dr.

Max Parker and Dr. Don Bernard for their interest,

encouragement, and willingness to assist. I extend a warm

message of gratitude to the memory of Dr. Paul Fitzgerald

for his constant messages of optimism.


iii






I wish to commend my dear and loyal friends, Glenda,

Carrie, and Jeanette, for their unconditional support and

their constant caring for me.

I extend a pride-filled thanks to my mom who has

always believed in me.

To my husband, Jack, I extend my heart-filled

gratitude and love for reminding me there was light at the

end of the tunnel and for being there when it was difficult

to believe.

I also want to thank the counselors, teachers, and

students who made this project possible.










TABLE OF CONTENTS



Page

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................... iii

ABSTRACT ............................................ vii

CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION .................................. 1

Overview ..................................... 2
Statement of the Problem ..................... 4
Need for the Study ........................... 5
Purpose of the Study ......................... 6
Rationale for the Study ...................... 8
Definition of Terms .......................... 11
Overview of the Remainder of the Study ....... 12

II REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE .................. 14

Theoretical Constructs ....................... 15
Effects of Divorce on Children ................ 21
Psychological Issues ......................... 31
Age and Sex Issues ........................... 37
Length of Time Since Divorce .................. 46
Comprehensive Studies on the Effects of
Divorce ................................... .. 47
Preventive Interventions for Children of
Divorce ................................... .. 51

III METHODOLOGY .................................. 57

Research Design .............................. 57
Hypothesis ................................... .. 58
Population ................................... .. 58
Participants ..................................... 59
Implementation of the Study ................... 61
Instrumentation .............................. 67
Self-Concept ................................ 67
School Behaviors .......................... 69
Children's Beliefs About Parental Divorce 71
Analysis of Data ............................. 76







IV RESULTS ...................................... 77

Research Hypotheses ........................... 80
Research Hypothesis One .................... 80
Research Hypothesis Two .................... 84
Research Hypothesis Three .................. 87
Research Hypothesis Four ................... 90
Research Hypothesis Five ................... 91

V DISCUSSION ..................................... 92

Limitations .................................... 93
Evaluation of Research Hypotheses ............ 95
Research Hypothesis One .................... 95
Research Hypothesis Two .................... 96
Research Hypothesis Three .................. 98
Research Hypothesis Four ................... 99
Research Hypothesis Five .................. 100
Discussion, Implications, and Recommendations. 101
In Conclusion .......... ...................... 104

REFERENCES ........................ .................. 107

APPENDICES

A REVIEW AND EVALUATION MEMORANDUM AND
EVALUATION FORM ........................... 116

B LETTER OF INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN THE
STUDY ...................................... 120

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................. 123









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

A STRUCTURED SMALL-GROUP COUNSELING INTERVENTION
TO ASSIST CHILDREN WITH ADJUSTMENT TO DIVORCE

By

April Merry Sameck

December 1990

Chairman: Paul J. Wittmer
Major Department: Counselor Education

The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of

a small group counseling intervention designed to assist

fourth and fifth grade children with their adjustment to

their parents' divorce. Specifically, children's

adjustment was assessed by instruments which measured self-

concept, school behaviors, and beliefs about parental

divorce. The influence of student group, student gender,

and length of time since their parents' divorce were

investigated.

This experimental study utilized a randomized control

group, pretest-posttest design. Data were collected and

analyzed from the pretest and posttest group total mean

scores.

Participants were 88 fourth and fifth grade children

from 6 Florida schools whose parents were divorced.


vii






Participants lived with their mothers only, were not

concurrently receiving additional counseling while

participating in this study, and were not presently

enrolled in or eligible for enrollment in a special

education program.

The researcher designed, developed, wrote, and tested

the intervention used in this study. It was structured and

designed for 7 hourly sessions over 7 consecutive weeks.

The sessions were led by the researcher-trained school

counselors at each of the 6 participating schools.

The results of data analysis did not reveal

significant differences on measures of self-concept and

school behaviors between the groups. Significant gains

were indicated for reducing children's problematic beliefs

about divorce for the experimental group. Experiment

participants scored significantly lower on posttests than

did control participants, indicating a decrease in

problematic beliefs concerning divorce.

The results from this study do suggest support for the

view that a focused, time-limited, school-based group

intervention with a specific program component can assist

children with their adjustment to parental divorce.

Results of testing also suggest that divorce does not

necessitate maladjustment of children but that adjustment

can be moderated or contained by providing support and by

teaching these children problem-solving skills.


viii






Additional research is needed to explore the

effectiveness of prevention-oriented programs for assisting

children with their adjustment to parental divorce. There

is a continued need for intervention models designed with

content and methods that address developmental and

sociocultural needs of children whose parents have

divorced.









CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION



The annual divorce rate in the United States is

currently reaching a plateau at about 22%. Thus, many

children are experiencing the divorce of their parents and,

for a large percentage, this disruption occurs during their

formative years (Bonkowski, Boomhower, & Bequette, 1985).

Current demographic figures indicate that by the end of

1990, 33% of the nation's children, under the age of 18,

will have experienced their parents' divorce (Kurdek,

1986). The U.S. Bureau of the Census (1987) reported that,

in 1987, 9,436,000 American children under the age of 18

were living in single parent homes as the result of

separation or divorce. Behind each of these statistics is

the dissolution of a family with all its attendant emotions

and adjustments.

The dissolution of parents' marriage has been ranked

as one of the major sources of stress for children (Hodges

& Bloom, 1984), and rising divorce rates have prompted a

growing body of research investigating the impact of

divorce on children's mental health (Goetting, 1981;

Isaacs, 1985; Kurdek, 1986; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). In

a recent national survey Peterson and Zill (1986) found

1









that children's mental health is directly related to

marital discord and the level of conflict in the family.

The effect of divorce on children is thus a prominent

family issue for practitioners and educators.

What role should the school play in providing

assistance to children with divorced or divorcing parents?

Specifically, what interventions might schools provide for

assisting children with problematic beliefs about parental

divorce? That is the focus of this study.

Overview

Parental separation and divorce can cause marked

changes in children's behaviors, particularly in school

(Peterson & Zill, 1986). These changes are likely to

include increased restlessness, obstinate acts,

disruptiveness, and impulsiveness. Along with these

behaviors, children's emotional reactions to parental

separation have been found to include confusion, anger,

guilt, fear, and depression, along with insecurity,

isolation, shame, and a feeling of being different

(Peterson & Zill, 1986; Stolberg & Garrison, 1985). Hodges

and Bloom (1984) found that children become more dependent,

disobedient, aggressive, demanding, and less affectionate

in the year following divorce.

There is ample evidence that parents' divorce has

adverse effects on child development (Bonkowski et al.,

1985; Hodges & Bloom, 1984; Pedro-Carroll & Cowen, 1985;








Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). The stress of divorce

interferes with the normal growth process by altering the

child's perceptions of social reality.

Children's perceptions of their parents' marriage may

affect the degree of psychological crisis they experience.

Apparently, the most severe consequences are experienced by

children who incorrectly perceive their parents' unhappy

marriages, prior to divorce, as being happy. The least

crisis is experienced when children accurately perceive

their parents' marriages as being unhappy (Kurdek & Berg,

1987; Wallerstein, 1983).

Children's adjustment to their parents' divorce may

also be affected by their beliefs about or understanding of

the divorce (Kurdek & Berg, 1987). Children often

construct problematic beliefs about both the nature of

parental divorce and their causal role in the divorce

decision (Mendell, 1983). These problematic beliefs

include thinking that they will be abandoned by the

custodial parent, expecting ridicule and rejection from

peers, seeing oneself as having to hold the family

together, believing that improved behavior will result in

parental reconciliation, and blaming one parent exclusively

for the divorce (Kurdek & Berg, 1987).

Wallerstein (1983) described six theoretical,

hierarchical, and interrelated tasks that children go

through when divorce occurs. The first two--acknowledging









the reality of the marital rupture and disengaging from

parental conflict and distress and resuming customary

pursuits--must be dealt with beginning with the separation.

Optimally, they will be mastered during the first year.

The next three--resolving loss, resolving anger and self-

blame, and accepting the permanence of the divorce--may

need to be reworked several times and often require many

years for completion. The final task, achieving realistic

understanding of relationships, often takes years to

complete.

The path to normal growth and development requires

that children cope with the many challenges of growing up.

The child experiencing marital disruption and

reorganization must confront additional psychological

tasks. These represent a major addition to the normal and

customary tasks of childhood and adolescence in our society

(Wallerstein, 1983).

Statement of the Problem

Researchers concur that the beliefs children have

about their parents' divorce are clearly associated with

subsequent social and emotional development (Gardener,

1976; Kurdek & Berg, 1983, 1987; Wallerstein & Kelly,

1980). Further, researchers have identified six

problematic beliefs frequently expressed (Emery,

Hetherington, & DiLalla, 1984; Kurdek & Berg, 1983, 1987;

Shantz, 1983): (a) fear of peer ridicule and avoidance,







5

(b) maternal blame, (c) paternal blame, (d) self-blame, (e)

fear of abandonment, and (f) hope of reunification.

Children's problematic beliefs about their parents'

divorce may effect the degree of crisis they experience and

the subsequent influence the divorce has on their normal

growth and development (Kurdek & Berg, 1987; Wallerstein,

1983). Problematic beliefs may also influence the nature

of their adjustment (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981). Professionals

working with children whose parents are divorced may

facilitate their adjustment by providing positive,

structured interventions designed to help them revise their

problematic beliefs (Bernard & Joyce, 1984).

Need for the Study

Despite rapid increases in the divorce rate in the

United States and ample evidence of its adverse effects,

there have been few controlled studies of preventive

interventions for the children it touches (Bloom, Hodges, &

Caldwell, 1982). The development of preventive

interventions, assisting children in their adjustment to

divorce is pressing (Bonkowski, Boomhower, & Bequette,

1985). If professional helpers are to gain an accurate

understanding of children and divorce, it is important to

consider what interventions might be most helpful in

assisting children with their problematic beliefs about

divorce (Kurdek & Berg, 1987). Additionally, if beliefs

are causally linked to affective and behavioral disorders,









the assessment of children's beliefs regarding parental

divorce will provide a foundation for intervention

strategies designed to assist them in revising faulty

beliefs (Bernard & Joyce, 1984; Ellis & Bernard, 1983,

Kurdek & Berg, 1987).

Because divorce has become so widespread, educators

must recognize that a significant number of their students

are children of divorced parents and that interventions and

strategies must be developed to help such children cope.

These children have special needs, distinct from children

of intact, two-parent families (Allers, 1982).

Divorce contributes additional tasks to children's

normal growth and development, and these appear to

interfere with expected learning (Wallerstein, 1983).

Because learning is the central developmental task of

school-age children, educators must consider the school's

role in assisting children with their adjustment to

parental divorce (Stolberg & Anker, 1983).

Purpose of the Study

Wallerstein (1983) reported that divorce carries the

potential for disrupting children's developmental

processes. However, she also stated that appropriate

interventions can reverse or modify this disruption. The

purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a small

group intervention on elementary school children in grades

4 and 5 whose parents have divorced. Using a control group








design, this researcher evaluated the effect of the

intervention in three areas: (a) children's problematic

beliefs regarding their parents' divorce, (b) children's

school behaviors, and (c) children's self-concepts.

Differences in the effectiveness of the treatment in

relationship to the sex of the child and the length of time

since the parents' divorce were also examined. The

treatment group was compared to a control group that was

given the opportunity to receive delayed treatment. The

counselor-led intervention included seven small-group

sessions designed to specifically address children's

problematic beliefs about divorce.

This study used the Children's Beliefs About Parental

Divorce Scale (Kurdek & Berg, 1987) as an objective scale

for assessing children's problematic beliefs regarding

parental divorce. The Teacher Report Form of the Achenbach

Child Behavior Checklist was used to assess student

behavior problems and adaptive functioning in a

standardized format. The Piers-Harris Children's Self-

Concept Scale was used to assess self-concept. All three

instruments were administered to all participants in both

treatment and control groups one week prior to beginning

the intervention and at the conclusion.

Elementary school children in grades 4 and 5 (a) whose

parents were divorced, (b) lived with their mother only,

(c) were not concurrently receiving additional counseling








while participating in this study, and (d) were not

presently enrolled in or eligible for enrollment in a

special education program were identified. Children

meeting these four criteria were invited by a letter from

the researcher to participate in this study. The children

who participated were randomly placed in either a control

group or an experimental group.

Rationale for the Study

Children are involved in school-related activities

approximately one-third of their waking hours each week

(Drake, 1981). The school has the potential to be a

consistent and positive support system for children of

divorced parents. Further, children in schools have access

to such mental health practitioners as counselors, school

psychologists, school social workers, and teachers; when

help is provided in the school setting, the child and

parents do not have to cope with the possible stigma

associated with outside mental health facilities, the

expense of such treatment, or child and parental resistance

to outside help (Drake, 1981). Additionally, children in

schools are grouped by approximate academic level, maturity

level, and age level, providing an optimum setting for

counseling and crisis intervention.

Small group counseling, assisting children with their

problematic beliefs about their parents' divorce, may prove

to be an appropriate and effective way for schools to








provide support for a large number of children of divorce.

Specifically, small group work can provide the opportunity

for students to explore and attempt to modify their

negative attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. The group

process may also provide children with the opportunity to

more fully meet certain psychological needs: to be

accepted, to belong, to release negative feelings, and to

participate in a supportive atmosphere where self-

exploration is encouraged (Hansen & Hill, 1984). Small

group intervention has the additional benefit of serving

more children than individual interventions, no small

consideration in times of rising divorce rates.

This researcher developed an intervention that

addressed children's problematic beliefs regarding their

parents' divorce for three major reasons. First, knowledge

of children's perceptions about parental divorce extends

social-cognitive developmental research into an applied

setting (Shantz, 1983). Second, several studies have

indicated that children's views of divorce differ from

those attributed to them by parents (Kurdek & Berg, 1983,

1987; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). Third, children's

appraisals of divorce-related events may affect their

adjustment to the divorce and their social development

(Kurdek & Berg, 1987).

The goals of this intervention included facilitating

children's adjustment to divorce and reducing the









problematic beliefs experienced by children whose parents

divorce. Additionally, objectives included helping the

child to accept the new family situation, increasing the

psychological distance between the parents' problems and

the child's problems, and providing the child with

additional coping strategies. Small group interventions

may significantly assist children of divorce in meeting

these goals (Drake, 1981).

The investigator of this study utilized six school

settings to provide elementary school children in grades 4

and 5 from families of divorce with an intervention

designed to assist them with their problematic beliefs


about their parents' divorce.


More specifically, this


study was done in an attempt to answer the following

questions:

1. What is the impact of a structured counsel:

preventive intervention on the problematic beliefs o:

children of divorced parents?

2. What is the impact of a structured counsel

preventive intervention on the school behavior of ch.

of divorced parents?

3. What is the impact of a structured counsel]

preventive intervention on the self-concepts of chil

divorced parents?


r-led

f


r-led

ildren


r-led

dren of


4. Does the length of time since the parents' divorce

have an effect on the impact of the intervention?









5. Does the sex of the child have an effect on the

impact of the intervention?

Definition of Terms

A binuclear family is a family in which the child

moves back and forth between the mother's residence and the

father's residence so that he or she holds membership in a

family that has two locations.

The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child

has his or her primary residence; the parent legally

responsible for the child.

Disengagement refers to withdrawing from the previous

involvement or position as a family member.

Family role refers to the part or function one plays

in a family, i.e., mother, father, son, daughter.

Fear of abandonment refers to children's belief that

contact with the custodial parent will also be lost.

Hope for reunification refers to children's belief

that the parents' separation is only temporary and that the

reunification can be hastened by their own activities.

Intact families are families in which the natural

parents and the child live together.

Maternal blame refers to children's belief that the

mother is entirely responsible for the divorce.

A noncustodial parent is the parent that does not have

primary residence with his or her child.









A nuclear family is a family in which the natural

mother, father, and child live together.

Paternal blame refers to children's belief that the

father is entirely responsible for the divorce.

Peer ridicule and avoidance refers to children's

belief that their parents' separation reflects negatively

on themselves.

Problematic beliefs refers to the thoughts children of

divorce construct about the nature of parental divorce and

their causal role in the divorce decision.

Self blame refers to children's belief that their

parents' separation is due to something they said or did.

Self-concept refers to a relatively stable set of

self-attitudes reflecting both a description and an

evaluation of one's own behavior and attributes.

Small-group refers to a group composed of 6-10

members.

Overview of the Remainder of the Study

The remainder of the study has been organized into

four additional chapters. Chapter II entails a review of

the current literature and the theoretical constructs

pertinent to this study. Chapter III includes a

description of the methodology, including the population

and design of the study; the hypotheses; the

instrumentation and data collection procedures; and the

analysis of the data. Chapter IV contains the data







13

analysis and research findings. A discussion of the

findings, implications, conclusions, and recommendations

for future research are provided in Chapter V.









CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE



The rapidly rising divorce rates in the United States

have produced a relatively recent but necessary concern

about the effects of divorce on children and their parents.

This chapter contains a literature review highlighting

theories important to this study, the effects of divorce on

children, children's problematic beliefs concerning their

parents' divorce, the need for interventions to assist them

in adjusting to these effects and beliefs, and types of

outcomes that seem important to the focus of this study.

The types of interventions found in the literature and the

status of outcomes are also covered and discussed in this

chapter.

Divorce is a phenomenon which effects, in varying

degrees, almost every individual in the United States.

Those who have not personally experienced divorce almost

certainly know a neighbor, friend, relative, or parent who

is divorced.

Nineteen-seventy-five was a sociologically significant

year; the number of American marriages ending in divorce

topped the million mark for the first time in history.

Between 1965 and 1975 the divorce rate more than doubled,

14








leading Americans to worry about a divorce epidemic

(Diamond, 1985).

Reports from the United States Bureau of the Census

(1987) indicated that in 1987 there were 130 currently

divorced persons for every 1,000 married persons living

with their spouses as compared with 100 per 1,000 in 1980.

In 1987, 23.9% of all children under 18 lived with one

parent, up from 19.7% in 1980.

Of the 15,071,000 children living in single parent

homes in 1987, 9,436,000 were as the result of divorce or

separation (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1987). Behind each

of these statistics is the dissolution of a family, with

all the emotions and adjustments attendant upon such a

transition. The child of divorce faces a special set of

challenges and carries an added burden. A few adjust

smoothly and quickly, but many undergo great frustration

and stress (Allers, 1982).

Divorce represents a special kind of stressful

experience for the child who has been reared within a two-

parent family. In several ways, a child's experience with

divorce is comparable to that of a child who loses a parent

through death. Each of these experiences strikes at and

disrupts close family relationships. Each weakens the

protection that the nuclear family provides, leaving in its

wake a diminished, more vulnerable family structure. Each

traces a pattern of time that begins with an acute, time-








limited crisis, and is followed by an extended period of

disequilibrium that may last several years. Each

introduces a chain of long-lasting changes that are not

predictable at the outset and that reach into multiple

domains of family life (Wallerstein, 1983).

Divorce is different from other life crises in that

anger more often erupts into physical and verbal violence

that can cause lasting and serious psychological harm for

many years. In most life crisis situations, parents

instinctively reach out and extend support to their

children bringing them to safety first. In the crisis of

divorce, however, mothers and fathers usually attend to

adult problems first and are often unable to extend

immediate support to their children. Divorce is also the

only major family crisis in which social supports often

diminish (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989).

The reorganization and readjustments that are required

of the child of the divorcing family represent a major

addition to the normal and customary tasks of childhood and

adolescence in our society. Children are able to

comprehend their parents' divorce only when they are given

the necessary information, without which it becomes

increasingly difficult for them to cope with their

immediate environment (Wallerstein, 1983).

The adaptation of children to divorce will vary with

their developmental status. Different responses and coping









strategies would be expected from young children with

limited cognitive and social competencies and their

dependency on parents than those of the more mature and

self-sufficient older child or adolescent (Wallerstein &

Kelly, 1980).

Theoretical Constructs

Children's ability to comprehend divorce depends upon

their age. Theorists have suggested that there are

specific periods in children's lives when they are able to

understand certain concepts and certain other periods when

they cannot.

Piaget's (1950) theory of cognitive development

identified four stages of development, the latter three of

which involve school-age children: the sensorimotor

period, from birth to 2 years of age; the preoperational

period, from 2 to 7 years of age; the concrete operational

stage, from 7 to 11 years of age; and the formal

operational period, from 11 years through adulthood.

Piaget stressed that these age ranges represent normative

ranges and that they are more clearly definable and

understandable when the content of what occurs during these

stages of development is examined rather than when they

began.

Piaget's notion of stages reflects and emphasizes the

structural transitions that take place during different

developmental periods, rather than a simple description of









different child behaviors at different times. Stages of

development are convenient organizers because they assist

in placing behavior at different ages in perspective.

However, Piaget emphasized that these stages are not bound

by anything other than very general time guidelines.

The sensorimotor stage of development begins at birth

with the simple reflexes of the neonate and terminates at

approximately 2 years of age with the onset of symbolic

thought, representing early childlike language.

During Piaget's preoperational period (from 2 to 7

years of age), children are limited in cognitive

development. They tend to focus on a single detail of a

problem rather than shift among many dimensions. They are

also egocentric and have trouble understanding that others'

view of the physical and social environment differs from

their own.

During the concrete operational period (from 7 to 11

years of age), children have internalized actions that

permit them to do "in their heads" what previously would

have been accomplished through overt actions. According to

Piaget, by the end of the concrete operational period,

children are remarkably adept at solving problems.

During the last stage of development (from 11 years

through adulthood), formal operational, children are able

to think about their thoughts, construct ideas, and reason

realistically about the future. They can draw hypotheses









from their observations and are able to deduce and induce

principles regarding the world around them.

Children can be expected to comprehend the meaning of

divorce within the context of their cognitive stage.

Children in the preoperational stage might handle some

basic facts about divorce but might not comprehend fully

the impact of divorce on themselves or their family.

During Piaget's concrete operational stage, children might

more fully grasp the concept of divorce and might, to some

extent, understand what the divorce means to their future.

The young adults in the formal operational stage would

understand and question more fully the impact of divorce on

themselves and their families.

Piaget stressed that the developing individual is

active rather than reactive. He defined development as a

spontaneous process and emphasized the individual's

inherent capability of being dynamic, not remaining static.

The essence of development is the interaction between the

individual's internal motivational system and the demands

of the environment. Piaget termed this striving for order

or balance equilibration, a self-regulatory process that

keeps the individual on the right track. This right track

is not a genetic predisposition toward a specific behavior

but a characteristic of the entire development of the

individual (Salkind, 1985).







20

Other cognitive developmental theorists have used some

of Piaget's work as a basis for their own theory regarding

how children learn to think. One such theorist was Jerome

Bruner, an Oxford University psychologist.

Bruner (1966) believed that at different stages along

the developmental process, from primarily inactive

processing of the world to primarily symbolic processing,

children are ready for different things at different times.

Bruner identified six characteristics of growth in the

developmental and learning process: (a) intellectual

growth is accompanied by an increased ability to represent

and understand the environment; (b) intellectual growth

depends on the use of a storage system to remember objects,

events, and experiences; (c) the key to increased

intellectual growth is the use of language; (d) the growth

of the child's intellect is a reflection of the interaction

between the child and the teacher; (e) the use of language

greatly enhances the effectiveness of teaching and

subsequent learning; and (f) the growing child learns to

deal with several alternative events at the same time

(Salkind, 1985).

Bruner clearly outlined the necessity for specific

tasks to be considered in instruction for children. To

begin with, he believed that readiness for learning is

crucial to the success of the developmental and learning








processes and that the environment must be suited to the

child's level of readiness.

The first task is to clearly identify what the

concepts are that must be taught. Next, the child's level

of readiness must be considered. The third task is the

presentation of information so that for every new step the

child takes toward learning new skills, the previous skills

are reviewed. The final step is for the child to go beyond

the information given by exploring on his or her own the

next logical step in the sequence.

In accordance with Bruner's theory, children can be

expected to process and comprehend the meaning of divorce

most effectively when their level of readiness is first

considered. This level of readiness will determine what

information the child is prepared to comprehend and will

also help determine what exploration the child will do in

determining his or her own next logical steps.

Wallerstein and Kelly (1980) have developed a theory

which identifies age as the best predictor of how children

initially react to their parents' divorces. They found

that preschoolers react differently from early elementary

school-aged children and that older elementary school-aged

children and adolescents react differently from both

younger groups. These theorists interpreted these findings

within a psychodynamic framework, but acknowledged that

children's levels of cognitive development also shape their









reactions; most of the preschoolers, for example,

egocentrically assumed that they were responsible for the

divorce (Nichols, 1984).

Children in the latency age group are often

preoccupied with feelings of loss, rejection, guilt, and

loyalty conflicts. They are profoundly worried that they

will forever lose the parent who has left home. They are

especially worried about being replaced (Wallerstein &

Blakeslee, 1989).

In the later latency years (9-12 years), children rely

tremendously on their parents for stability. With a

divorce occurring at this stage, children may become

intensely anxious about their stability. This anxiety is

often reflected in their behavior. Many children this age

become intensely angry with their parents for divorcing and

especially angry with the parent whom they blame for the

divorce. They often worry about their parents and

sometimes take on very adult roles, especially in relation

to a needy parent. This can drain the child emotionally.

If there is a common thread uniting many theoretical

perspectives, it is that the child's development is a

result of conflict and the manner in which it is resolved.

A simple example of this is the way people avoid or

approach a problem until some resolution is established.

If we understand the child's placement in the developmental

sequence, the demands of the environment can be adjusted to








assure that the optimal degree of growth can occur

(Salkind, 1985).

Divorce is not a specific entity or event. Instead,

it is a process within the family's history that works

parallel to the developmental phases in a child's life

(Pfeffer, 1981).

Effects of Divorce on Children

Hetherington (1979) has noted that almost all children

experience the transition of divorce as painful.

Children's individual responses to divorce vary due to

several factors such as temperament, developmental status,

sex of the child, number of and relationship to siblings,

emotional stability, general adjustment, length of time

since the divorce, and the manner in which the parents

handle the situation. Wallerstein (1989) found that the

psychological condition of children and adolescents was

related to the overall quality of life in the post-divorce

family.

The experience of divorce is entirely different
for parents and for children because the children
lose something that is fundamental to their
development--the family structure. The family
compromises the scaffolding upon which children
mount successful developmental stages, from
infancy into adolescence. It supports their
psychological, physical, and emotional ascent
into maturity. When that structure collapses,
the children's world is temporarily without
supports. And children, with a vastly compressed
sense of time, do not know that the chaos is
temporary. What they do know is that they are
dependent on the family. Whatever its
shortcomings, children perceive the family as the
entity that provides the support and protection








that they need. With divorce, that structure
breaks down, leaving children who feel alone and
very frightened about the present and future.
(Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989, p. 11-12)

A review of the research on the effects of divorce on

children indicates that the four most common emotional

responses of children in the immediate post divorce

situation are guilt, fear, anger, and depression (Freeman &

Couchman, 1985).

It is not uncommon for children to assume guilt for

being the cause of the divorce (Allers, 1982; Hetherington,

1979; Pedro-Carroll & Cowen, 1985; Walsh, 1980). Children

may also view divorce as a punishment for wrongdoing and

believe that if they correct inappropriate behavior or act

better, then their parents will reconcile. Many children

feel guilty and some feel that it is their duty to mend the

marriage (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989). Some children

may believe that their parents' divorce is due to something

they said or did. Such beliefs can lead to guilt (Berg &

Kurdek, 1987).

The fear that children often experience is the fear of

abandonment by their other parent or the loss of both of

their parents (Allers, 1982; Hetherington, 1979; Pedro-

Carroll & Cowen, 1985; Walsh, 1980). Children of all ages

feel intensely rejected when their parents divorce. When

one parent leaves the other, the children interpret the act

as including them (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989). Some

children may believe that they will eventually lose contact








with one or both of their parents. This may lead to

excessive dependency and obsessive thoughts and fears about

such loss (Kurdek & Berg, 1987). More generalized anxiety

may be caused by less parental attention and children's

concern over who will love and take care of them.

Children's feelings of abandonment may also stem from their

belief that they are not worthy of affection and are not

loved by their parents (Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980).

The feeling of intense anger is another emotional

response for many children experiencing divorce (Allers,

1982; Hetherington, 1979; Hodges & Bloom, 1984; Wallerstein

& Kelly, 1980).

Children get angry at their parents for violating
the unwritten rules of parenthood--parents are
supposed to make sacrifices for children, not the
other way around. Some keep their anger hidden
for years out of fear of upsetting parents or for
fear of retribution and punishment; others show
it. (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989, p. 12)

Researchers have found that children may become aggressive

(Allers, 1982; Hess & Camara, 1979), destroying things and

occasionally becoming self-destructive in their behavior.

Related to the anger is a sense of powerlessness. Children

feel that they have no say, no way to influence this major

event in their lives (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989).

Depression is an additional emotional response of many

children who face divorce (Hetherington, 1979; Kalter &

Plunkett, 1984; Peterson & Zill, 1986; Wallerstein & Kelly,

1980). When families break up, children's sense of sadness







26

and loss is often profound. Children grieve over the loss

of the family, the loss of the parent who has left home,

and the imagined loss of both parents (Wallerstein &

Blakeslee, 1989). This sadness and depression may exhibit

itself in moodiness, self-criticism, loss of appetite,

hopelessness, frequent daydreaming, and inattentiveness.

Children may display other behaviors in reaction to

their parents' divorce. Some children are unable to accept

the fact of their parents' divorce, and actually deny it

and even lie to friends about it. Other children may cling

to the hope that their parents will reconcile (Allers,

1982; Freeman & Coachman, 1985; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980),

becoming preoccupied with the reconciliation and inventing

plans to engineer it.

Divorce is often preceded by several separations,
each of which may seem decisive but turn out not
to be final. These can confuse children and lead
them to expect reconciliation, if not
immediately, then eventually. Moreover, divorce
is usually a partial loss and most children tend
to see the departed parent for many years
afterward. As a result, children who experience
divorce are more likely to feel a persistent,
gnawing sense that the loss of the intact family
is not final; maybe it can be repaired. People
who divorce can remarry. People who separate can
rejoin. Thus children's capacity to cope with
divorce is very much decreased by the uncertainty
of the event itself, by its elusive causes, and
by what children regard and keep alive as its
potential reversibility. Perhaps the most
important factor in keeping alive children's hope
for reconciliation is their intense need to think
of their parents as mutually affectionate and
together. This feeling can endure for decades.
(Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989, p. 14)








Many children develop psychosomatic symptoms and

complain of headaches and stomachaches (Allers, 1982,

Fulton, 1979). Some children may show evidence of

hypermaturity (Allers, 1982; Walsh, 1980; Weiss, 1979),

assuming adult mannerisms and additional responsibilities

and becoming super-efficient helpers.

Cognitive, affective behavioral, and

psychophysiological problems have been reported in many

children of divorce (Coddington & Troxell, 1980;

Hetherington, 1979; Kurdek & Siesky, 1981; Peterson & Zill,

1986). Cognitive reactions include self-blame, feeling

different from peers, and heightened sensitivity to

interpersonal incompatibility (Kelly & Berg, 1978; Kurdek &

Siesky, 1981; Wallerstein, 1983). Deficits in prosocial

behavior and high frequencies of acting out and aggressive

behaviors have also been found among children of divorce

(Stolberg, Camplair, Currier, & Wells, 1984). Their

academic performance is often hampered by classroom

behaviors that interfere with performance and require

special handling (Guidubaldi, Cleminshaw, Perry, &

McLoughlin, 1983). They are more often diagnosed as having

serious illnesses than peers from intact families

(Coddington & Troxell, 1980; Jacobs & Charles, 1980).

The environmental changes many times accompanied by

divorce, often place demands on children for new skills,

weaken their support systems, and result in feelings of








anger and rejection (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981; Stolberg &

Anker, 1983; Stolberg et al., 1984).

In a study begun in 1979 by the National Association

of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the Kettering

Foundation's Institute for the Development of Educational

Activities (I/D/E/A), researchers addressed the school

needs of children from one-parent families and concluded

that these children are at risk and that some may need

special assistance at school. Prior to this study, this

issue had never been systematically investigated.

To conduct the study, NAESP and I/D/E/A researchers

gathered information on students from 26 elementary and

secondary schools in 14 states. In addition to sampling

the major regions of the country (Arizona, California,

Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana,

Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio,

Washington, and Wisconsin), the schools represented a

cross-section of inner-city, suburb, small-town, and rural

areas (Lazarus, 1980).

Educators have for generations assumed that children

from one-parent households have more trouble in school than

do children whose families fit what we think of as the

traditional nuclear family mold. The findings of the

NAESP-I/D/E/A study help to confirm that assumption. The

results indicate that one-parent children, as a group, have

lower achievement and present more discipline problems than









do their two-parent peers in both elementary and high

school. They were also reported to be absent more often,

late to school more often, and to reveal more health

problems. It was also found that one-parent students are

more than twice as likely to drop out of school than are

students from two-parent households. A definite positive

correlation between school performance and family status

was also determined by the researchers (Lazarus, 1980).

One of the many things which adds to the child's

difficulties is the concept of divorce itself. Divorce

seems relatively simple to adults--two people no longer

wish to live together. Each feel that his or her needs are

no longer met by, nor can he or she meet the needs of his

or her spouse. To the child, however, divorce is confusion

consisting of unanswered questions, arguments, loneliness,

and anger (Allers, 1982). Many people have wanted to

believe that what is good for adults will be good for their

children. Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) stated, "It is

seductively simple to think a child's psychological

problems are mainly a reflection of family problems--as if

children were not people with reactions of their own,

separate from those of adults" (p. 10).

The research clearly and strongly supports the notion

that divorce results in psychological distress for children

(Blechman, 1982; Black, 1979; Guidubaldi et al., 1983;

Peterson & Zill, 1986; Wallerstein, 1983). Children of







30

divorce face an additional set of tasks specific to divorce

in addition to the normal developmental tasks of growing

up. Growing up is inevitably harder for children of

divorce because they must deal with psychological issues

that children from well-functioning, intact families do not

have to face (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989).

While literature on separation and divorce abounds,

research on how divorce affects children is sparse. It

seems important to report that, in spite of the potential

that divorce has for disrupting a child's development,

there is little in the literature suggesting how best to

help children to cope with the crisis of divorce. Despite

substantial concern about the consequences of marital

instability for children, little systematic theory has been

developed that adequately conceptualizes this area of

inquiry (Peterson & Zill, 1984).

There is clearly a lack of literature available that

addresses interventions for children of divorce. Most of

the literature has focused on the effects of divorce on the

family members and the resulting behaviors that occur.

Divorce threatens the psychological and physical well-being

of individuals and families and it is the way in which

people respond to the divorce that is critical in shaping

the outcomes.

In order to develop helpful interventions to assist

children in their adjustment to their parents' divorce, it









seems logical that we must first be aware of the special

tasks and effects these children must respond to.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) have conceptualized

the child's divorce adjustment process as a series of

several psychological tasks that are added to the customary

tasks of childhood and adolescence. Other researchers

(Gardner, 1976; Kurdek & Berg, 1987; Mendell, 1983;

Tessman, 1978) have further observed that children often

construct problematic beliefs about both the nature of

parental divorce and their causal role in the divorce

decision.

Psychological Issues

Our physical growth and development throughout life

has a predictable cycle. There is also a predictable

progression in our psychological and social growth and

development. Each stage in this progression presents us

with a sequence of tasks we must confront. As children

move upward along a common developmental ladder, each at

his or her own pace, a sense of self is consolidated. In

this process they develop coping skills, conscience, and

the capacity to give and receive love.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) propose that children

who experience divorce face an additional set of tasks

specific to divorce in addition to the normal developmental

tasks of growing up. They further propose that growing up

is inevitably harder for children of divorce because they








must deal with psychological issues that children from

well-functioning, intact families do not have to face.

The additional psychological tasks encountered by

children of divorce are (a) understanding the divorce, (b)

strategic withdrawal, (c) dealing with the loss, (d)

dealing with anger, (e) working out guilt, (f) accepting

the permanence of the divorce, and (g) taking a chance on

love.

Perhaps the first and most basic task for children at

the time of separation is to understand realistically what

the divorce means in their family and what its specific/

concrete consequences will be. This understanding occurs

in two stages. First is the stage of accurately perceiving

the immediate changes that divorce brings and being able to

differentiate fantasy fears and hopes from reality. The

second stage usually occurs later when children are able at

a greater distance and with more mature understanding to

evaluate their parents' actions and to draw useful lessons

for their own lives.

After the divorce, as soon as possible, children and

adolescents need to get on with their own lives, to resume

their normal activities at school and play and to get back

physically and emotionally to the normal tasks of growing

up. Their task is not to ignore the divorce but instead to

acknowledge their concern and to provide appropriate help

to their parents and siblings. Additionally, they should








strive to remove the divorce from the center of their own

thoughts and get back to their own pleasures, interests,

problems, and peer relationships. They need the

encouragement to remain children.

Children experience two profound losses following a

divorce. One is the loss of the intact family and the

second is the loss of the presence of one parent from their

daily lives. Children often mask their unhappiness

associated with these losses by fantasizing.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) have suggested that

the absorbing of these losses is perhaps the single most

difficult task imposed by divorce.

At its core, the task requires children to
overcome the profound sense of rejection,
humiliation, unlovability, and powerlessness they
feel with the departure of one parent. When the
parent leaves, children of all ages blame
themselves. They conclude that had they been
more lovable, worthy, or different, the parent
would have stayed. In this way, the loss of the
parent and lowered self-esteem become
intertwined. (p. 290)

In order to cope with the intensely painful feelings

of rejection, children may continue to undo the divorce

scenario. Perhaps if they could bring their parents back

together or win back the affection of the absent parent,

the pain of the loss would go away. Children are not only

pained at the outset of divorce, but remain vulnerable,

sometimes increasingly over the years.

Dealing with these losses appears to be a task

children respond to in a number of ways. Children who have









a good relationship with their parents, as well as a good

visitation and/or joint custody arrangement, find this task

easier to achieve.

Some children are able to use a good, close
relationship with the visiting parent to promote
their growth within the divorced family. Others
are able to acknowledge and accept that the
visiting parent could never become the kind of
parent they need, and they are able to turn away
from blaming themselves. Still others are able
to reject on their own, a rejecting parent or to
reject a role model that they see as flawed. In
so doing, these youngsters are able to
effectively master the loss and get on with their
lives. (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989, p. 29)

The true cause of divorce lies in the parents' failure

to maintain the marriage, and is always a voluntary

decision for at least one of the partners in a marriage.

Children of divorce therefore face a terrible dilemma.

Their unhappiness has been caused by the very people

charged with their protection and care. Their parents have

voluntarily become the agents of their distress.

The dilemma lies in the children's anger at their

parents for divorcing while also being aware of their

parents' weaknesses, neediness, and anxiety about life's

difficulties. Although children may lack understanding of

the divorce, they do recognize how unhappy and disorganized

their parents become, and this frightens them very much.

The children become caught in a combination of anger and

love--frightened and guilty about their anger because they

love their parents and see their unhappiness and personal








struggles. Acknowledging their anger can be very

difficult.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) identify this

struggle with anger as a major task for children. A task

that requires recognizing their parents as human beings

capable of making mistakes and learning to respect them for

their real efforts and their real courage.

Cooling of anger and the task of forgiveness go
hand in hand with children's growing emotional
maturity and capacity to appreciate the various
needs of the different family members. As anger
diminishes, young people are better able to put
the divorce behind them and experience relief.
As children forgive their parents, they forgive
themselves for feeling anger and guilt and for
failing to restore the marriage. In this way
children can free themselves from identification
with the angry or violent parent or with the
victim. (p. 92)

Often young children feel responsible for divorce and

believe that their misbehavior may have caused the divorce.

Guilt feelings are often numerous at the time of divorce

but naturally dissipate as children mature.

Some guilt feelings persist and are rooted in

children's realization that they were a cause of marital

difficulty. Children often know the stresses they place on

the marriage--financially, emotionally, mentally, and

psychologically. Their awareness that they have caused

this wedge between their parents reinforces their guilt

feelings.

Children of divorce need to separate from guilty ties

that bind them too closely to their troubled parent or









parents and to go on with their lives with compassion and

love (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989).

Initially, children feel a strong need to deny the

divorce. This early denial may be a first step in the

coping process. The denial allows a piece by piece

confrontation with the reality of the divorce.

Wallerstein (1989) found in her longitudinal study

that some children and adolescents refuse to accept the

permanence of the divorce 5 and even 10 years after it has

occurred. They continue to hope, consciously or

unconsciously, that the marriage will be restored.

In accepting permanence, the children of divorce
face a more difficult task than children of
bereavement. Death cannot be undone, but divorce
happens between living people who can change
their minds. A reconciliation fantasy taps deep
into children's psyches. Children need to feel
that their parents will still be happy together.
They may not overcome this fantasy of
reconciliation until they themselves finally
separate from their parents and leave home.
(Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989, p. 293)

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) suggested that the

most important psychological task for growing children and

for society is to "take a chance on love" (p. 3). They

must hold on to a realistic vision that they can both love

and be loved. It becomes a task for children of divorce

because they must do this despite what life has dealt them

and despite their lingering fears and anxieties. They must

grow and become open to the possibility of success or

failure and take a chance on love.









Taking a chance on love is a central task for all

children during adolescence and young adulthood. For

children who lose their intact family through divorce, they

must also take a chance on love, knowing realistically and

experientially that divorce is always possible. The task

for children also involves being able to turn away from the

model of parents who could not stay committed to each

other.

This last task, taking a chance on love, involves
being able to venture, not just thinking about
it, and not thinking one way and behaving
another. It involves accepting a morality that
truly guides behavior. This is the task that
occupies children of divorce throughout their
adolescence. It is what makes adolescence such a
critical and difficult time for them. The
resolution of life's tasks is a relative process
that never ends, but this last task, which is
built on successfully negotiating all the others,
leads to psychological freedom from the past.
(Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989, pp. 293-294)

Age and Sex Issues

Existing research findings of the effect of the age of

the child on the response to the divorce or parents can be

examined in three general age groups: preschool (birth to

5 years of age); latency (5 to 11 years of age); and

adolescence (12 to 18 years of age) (Hodges & Bloom, 1984).

Children in each of these age groups appear to respond

differently to the divorce of their parents.

Preschoolers are often viewed as the most vulnerable

group of children because their level of cognitive

development precludes their constructing an accurate








interpretation of events transpiring around them, because

their level of psychosexual development is thought by some

to place them in the midst of resolving Oedipal conflicts,

and because their young parents are likely to have limited

financial resources. These children are prone to form

faulty perceptions of the reasons for the parents'

separation and may experience nightmares, depressed play,

eating disturbances, bed-wetting, lowered self-esteem

problems with sexual identity, and guilt over having caused

the departure of the noncustodial parent (Hetherington,

1979; McDermott, 1970; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). In

general, Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) reported that

preschoolers are the most frightened and show the most

dramatic symptoms when marriages break up.

Preschool children have been found to respond to

marital separation with regression, anxiety, tantrums,

fantasies of reconciliation, anger, aggression, problems in

academic achievement, lowered self-esteem, problems in

basic trust, and, for the 1 to 3 year age group, loss of

recently acquired perceptual motor skills (Santrock, 1975;

Wallerstein & Kelly, 1976). Hetherington (1979) noted that

young preschool children were less able to appraise

accurately their own role in the separation and were likely

to experience the separation as abandonment.

Kalter and Rembar (1981) found that if separation

occurred before the age of 2, at latency, boys and girls








exhibited more nonaggressive disturbances in the parent-

child relationship than children who were older at the time

of their parents' separation. Wallerstein and Blakeslee

(1989) suggested that this may be the result of very young

children not being haunted by the memories of the intact

family. They may also feel less nostalgia for what was

lost and have fewer memories of turmoil and conflict

stemming from the divorce.

From a theoretical perspective, separation at the

preschool age should have strong adverse consequences.

Empirically, maladjustment would seem to be a common

outcome although the form differs from study to study. The

long-term effects are less clear (Hodges & Bloom,1984). On

the positive side, younger children may experience more

consistent and regular parenting in the post-divorce period

(Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980).

Felner, Stolberg, and Cowen (1975) noted that acting

out and aggression were more common in latency age children

of divorced families than other types of families. Fulton

(1979) reported an increase in nightmares for children when

divorce occurred from ages 6 to 12. Kelly and Wallerstein

(1977) noted that for 7- and 8-year-olds, sadness,

grieving, fear, feelings of deprivation, fantasies of

responsibility and reconciliation, lowered self-esteem,

anger, and conflicts of loyalty were characteristic

responses to the divorce of their parents. Wallerstein and







40

Blakeslee (1989) reported that in their longitudinal study,

half of the children in this age group suffered a year long

precipitous decline in school performance.

Largely because of their affective investment in both

parents, latency-age children often view the noncustodial

parent's leaving as a profound personal loss. Common

reactions include depression, withdrawal, marked

deterioration in school performance, and persistent

requests for an explanation as to why the parental

separation had to occur (Kelly & Wallerstein, 1977;

Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). As a result of their own

psychological needs, many children this age cast the

divorce as a fight in which they feel required to take

sides. They are often tormented by these loyalty

conflicts.

Adolescents have been perceived as having the

cognitive maturity to comprehend the dynamics underlying

the reasons for the separation. Opinion is divided,

however, on the nature of their affective responses. Some

view the adolescent's personality development as being

minimally affected by the divorce because the adolescent

can turn to sources outside of the home for comfort,

advice, and nurturance. Others, however, see the

adolescent's personality as being maximally affected

because of the likelihood of his or her having been exposed

to longer periods of parental conflict. Such exposure has








been linked to adolescents' problems with interpersonal

relations, self-identity, self-esteem, and independence

(Sorosky, 1977; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980).

Sorosky (1977), in a review of the literature,

identified aggression, sexual identity problems,

depression, and social conflicts in adolescents in response

to the divorce of parents. In contrast, Reinhard (1977)

found that, while adolescents were unhappy and disappointed

about the divorce, they were also sensible and realistic.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) reported that, in

their studies, adolescents are especially upset and

frightened by divorce. This appears to be the result of

their need for family structure to help them set limits on

their own sexual and aggressive impulses. Adolescents are

often fearful that they will repeat their parents failures

and that their own marriages might fail.

In summary, different researchers have indicated

different types of responses to the divorce of parents of

adolescents. Some studies have obtained differences in

aggression, depression, and social conflicts, while others

have found little impact.

Besides developmental status, children's sex has also

been related to their divorce adjustment. It has been

suggested by several investigators that gender may

influence the vulnerability of children of divorce or

parental separation because boys have been reported to cope








less effectively than girls (Biller, 1974; Hetherington,

Cox, & Cox, 1978; Lamb, 1977; McDermott, 1970). Boys

rather than girls in divorcing families are reported to

exhibit lower levels of socially competent behavior (e.g.,

more noncompliant and acting out responses) (Hetherington

et al., 1978; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). It may be that

boys experience greater trauma because their same sex role

models are usually the persons who disengage from family

roles (Hetherington, 1979). Hetherington et al. (1978)

also reported that male children seem to receive more

punitive and inconsistent responses to misbehavior from

custodial parents than do female children.

Sons of divorced parents appear to experience more

problems in the areas of both general cognitive, emotional,

and social development and more specific divorce adjustment

difficulty (Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980) than do daughters of

divorced parents. However, it appears that sex differences

may dissipate over the course of the post-divorce period

and that they are less pronounced in older children (Kurdek

& Siesky, 1980; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). Clear-cut

explanations for the findings have not been advanced. It

has been suggested that younger boys may be exposed to more

stress, frustration, and aggression as well as less support

and nurturance from mothers, teachers, and peers than

younger girls (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981). Since the mother is

generally the custodial parent, it is also possible that







43

the preponderance of boys' adjustment difficulty is due to

specific stresses arising from boys' living with an

opposite-sex custodial parent (Wallerstein, 1983). The

nature of these stresses is likely to involve a complex

reciprocal relation among children's developmental status,

children's expectancies of the custodial parent, parent's

disciplinary practices, and the quality of available

support systems.

These global and normative descriptions alert us to

the importance of developmental status in divorce

adjustment, but do not delineate specific age-related or

sex-related factors that may mediate divorce reaction and

adjustment. For example, Hetherington (1979), Longfellow

(1979), and Wallerstein and Kelly (1980) have speculated

that these global age changes are likely due to specific

developmental changes in children's ability to appraise the

divorce situation, to make sense out of the complex

sequence of disruptive events, to infer the motives and

feelings of parents, to assess accurately their own causal

role in the divorce decision, and to experience some degree

of control over their outcomes. A study by Kurdek and

Siesky (1981) on correlates of children's long-term

adjustment to their parents' divorce supports some of these

speculations. This study demonstrated moderately positive

relations between children's divorce adjustment and both

interpersonal reasoning (a composite variable including








perspective taking, intent assessment, and knowledge of

factors related to the initiation, maintenance, and

termination of friendships) and internal locus of control.

Thus, there is a support for a cognitive-developmental

perspective on children's divorce adjustment which may more

readily accommodate individual cognitive factors that

modulate children's perceptions of divorce as a life

stress.

A cognitive-developmental focus on children's divorce

adjustment also warns us against perceiving the child's

divorce experience from an adult perspective (Damon, 1979).

It is of note that the few studies assessing nonclinical

children's viewpoints of the divorce have revealed fairly

high levels of divorce adjustment (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981;

Reinhard, 1977) along with feelings that the divorce has

been a painful experience (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981;

Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980). Berg and Kelly (1979) have

noted that parents' perceptions of children's divorce

adjustment may be colored by their own psychological needs

and defenses making it unlikely that parents' and child's

view of the divorce adjustment will be congruent (Kurdek &

Siesky, 1981).

Kurdek and Siesky (1981) in their study to determine

how children themselves perceive various aspects of their

parents' divorce showed a consistent pattern of factors

contributing to children's adjustment to their parents'








divorce. Favorable adjustments were seen in children who

defined divorce in terms of psychological separation,

shared news of the divorce with friends, had relatively

positive evaluations of both parents, and saw themselves as

having acquired strengths and responsibilities as a result

of the divorce. This study further identified beneficial

effects (comfort in discussing divorce with friends,

emotional adjustment to the divorce, attitudes toward

interpersonal relationships) of children's sharing divorce-

related concerns with their friends. They have further

suggested that peers function as a support system for

children experiencing their parents' divorce.

At a time when the parents themselves are likely
to be caught up with their own thoughts and
feelings, children may more easily turn to their
friends for advice and comfort. Given the
increase in the number of children affected by
divorce, groups of children who themselves have
also experienced divorce may be the source of
greatest support in both clinical and non-
clinical settings. (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981, p.
98)

In summary, Kurdek and Siesky (1981), in their

findings that children acquired strengths and

responsibilities in the course of adjusting to the divorce,

concluded that divorce need not be a traumatic experience

for all children. Additionally, they view children's

perceptions of the divorce as greatly influencing the

nature of adjustment. A child who sees the divorce as an

opportunity for personal growth will encounter fewer

difficulties than the child who views the divorce in terms







46

of parental desertion or self-blame. Professionals working

with children whose parents are divorced may assist them in

generating both the positive and negative consequences of

their parents' divorce (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981).

Length of Time Since the Divorce

In the period during and immediately following divorce

the child may be responding to changes in his or her life

situation. In this period, therefore, stresses associated

with conflict, loss, change, and uncertainty may be the

critical factors (Hetherington, 1979).

Findings in the divorce literature to date point to

the first post-separation year as one in which a majority

of children are prone to show emotional or behavioral

difficulties of some kind, although there is less agreement

across studies as to the probability of longer term effects

(Hetherington et al., 1978; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980;

Young & Parish, 1979). Hetherington et al. (1978) found

the first two years after the separation to be a period of

maximum disequilibrium for children.

Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989), in the first and

only 10 year reports on the psychological effects of

divorce on men, women, and children, have reported that

life may be unstable and home may be unsettled for several

years after the divorce.

The effects of length of time since marital disruption

may also vary according to the child's age at the time of







47

disruption (Wallerstein & Kelly, 1976). Age at the time of

divorce is an important determinant of psychopathology with

children between 5 and 9 years experiencing the greatest

behavioral and cognitive/perceptual difficulties (Deredyn,

1977; Kurdek & Siesky, 1981; Stolberg, Mauger, Marks, &

Zinober, 1978; Tooley, 1976). Inasmuch as maximum

cognitive sensitivity to interpersonal stimuli occurs

between ages 7 and 11 (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969), one would

expect maximum cognitive/perceptual changes due to divorce

to occur in this age range.

Comprehensive Studies on the Effects of Divorce

Three large-scale comprehensive studies published on

the effects of divorce on children have produced a number

of significant findings.

Wallerstein and Kelly (1974, 1975, 1976) and Kelly and

Wallerstein (1976) studied the reactions of 131 preschool,

early latency, late latency, and adolescent children to

their parents' divorce both shortly after the parents'

separation and in a 12- to 18-month follow-up. Three major

findings were obtained: (a) Children's reactions to their

parents' divorce were largely negative and varied as a

function of their developmental level, (b) the functioning

of the custodial parent following the divorce played a

large part in the first year following the divorce, and (c)

adjustment among older children was related to the

custodial parent refraining from perceiving their children







48

as sources from which their own emotional and social needs

were to be met.

In the second major study of the effects of divorce on

children, Hetherington, Cox, and Cox (1978) described

alterations in the relationship between 48 custodial

mothers and noncustodial fathers and their nursery school

aged children in the two year period following the divorce.

The authors found that fathers became increasingly

unavailable to their children while mothers experienced

marked child behavioral problems, especially with their

sons. These behavioral problems were somewhat mitigated

when the mother and father maintained support and positive

attitudes toward one another.

Finally, Jacobson (1978) investigated the impact of

marital separation/divorce on 61 6- to 17-year-old children

during the 12 month period following parental separation.

They found that child maladjustment was related both to

time lost in the presence of the father and to the degree

of interparent hostility in the preseparation period.

Children who were seen as well adjusted had, on the other

hand, received parents' help in dealing with the separation

and were encouraged to discuss separation-related problems.

On the basis of the three studies described above, it

appears that divorce occasions crisis and disequilibrium

for the children as well as the parents. Children's own

perceptions of the events compressed within the divorce








were not systematically obtained in these three studies.

From a cognitive-developmental theoretical perspective, the

child experiencing his or her parents' divorce is actively

structuring and interpreting the complex events transpiring

before, during, and after the separation period. More

importantly, the nature of these resulting perceptions may

greatly influence the extent to which the child is either

positively or negatively affected by the divorce (Kurdek &

Siesky, 1981).

The importance of considering children's perceptions

of their parents' divorce is demonstrated by two studies

whose conclusions offset the crisis tone of the studies

reported above. Rosen (1977) interviewed 92 9- to 28-year-

olds who strongly maintained that their parents' separation

was more beneficial than remaining together in conflict.

Additionally, they indicated that (a) they did not feel

adversely affected by the divorce, (b) they would have

preferred free access to the noncustodial parent, and (c)

many perceived themselves as having benefitted from the

divorce by acquiring an understanding of human emotions and

developing a sense of maturity and responsibility (Kurdek &

Siesky, 1980).

Reinhard (1977) reviewed responses to a 99-item

questionnaire of 46 12- to 18-year-olds regarding their

parents' divorce. The results indicated that (a) they did

not possess negative reactions to the divorce, (b) they saw








the divorce as a reasonable decision on the part of their

parents, (c) they did not feel the divorce affected their

peer relations, and (d) they saw themselves as having

acquired maturity and responsibility as a result of

experiencing their parents' divorce.

Clearly children's perceptions tend to mollify the

crisis-flavored tone of the literature regarding the

effects of divorce on children (Kurdek & Siesky, 1980). In

response to the lack of such studies, Kurdek and Siesky

(1981) systematically investigated children's perceptions

of various aspects of their parents' divorce. An open-

ended interview and a structured questionnaire were used to

accomplish this. The information gathered consistently

indicated that the children were not adversely affected by

various aspects of the divorce. The children did report

that the divorce decision, adjusting to the changed family

circumstances, and the loss of the noncustodial parent were

distressing experiences, but they also saw their parents'

divorce as a more desirable alternative to their parents'

living in conflict (Kurdek & Siesky, 1981).

These studies did not suggest that divorce is not a

crisis situation for some children. Rather they indicate

that from the child's perspective the crisis need not be a

chronic one.

There is, as we have found from many years of

observation, no necessary progression toward resolution or








closure to the dissolution experience. Although many

divorcing families make their way through the acute phase

of the divorce experience and after several years of

disequilibrium reach stability and closure in the post-

divorce or remarried family, many of the family members may

remain fixated for many years at the acute phase of the

divorce (Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989).

Given both the short-term acute reactions to divorce

and the potential long-term damage that may occur, it seems

appropriate for those involved in working with children and

adolescents to undertake interventions which will support

children through this difficult time in their lives as well

as reduce the potential for long-term effects (Freeman &

Couchman, 1985).

Preventive Interventions for Children of Divorce

Despite rapid increases in the divorce rate and ample

evidence of its adverse effects, Bloom, Asher, and White

(1978) reported that there had been few controlled studies

of preventive interventions for the people it touches. In

an attempt to help fill that void, Bloom, Hodges, and

Caldwell (1982) developed a 6-month preventive program for

newly separated adults. The program was based on support

principles and building adaptive skills in divorce-related

problem areas. The results recorded at the end of the

program and at the 30- and 48-month follow-up points,

indicated that participants significantly exceeded controls








in overall adjustment and in life coping skills (Bloom,

Hodges, Kern, & McFadden, 1985).

Several pilot preventive interventions based primarily

on support principles for children have been witnessed.

Cantor (1977) found little evidence of positive behavior

change in program children, based on parent and teacher

judgments. Guerney and Jordon (1979) had very positive

feedback from program children. Each of these studies

involved nine children and were evaluated

impressionistically and lacked rigorous control.

A recent more carefully evaluated program, the Divorce

Adjustment Project (Stolberg & Cullen, 1983, Stolberg,

Cullen, & Garrison, 1982), had two main components: (a)

the Children's Support Group (CSG), a group intervention

for 82 children of divorce 7 to 13 years of age and their

mothers emphasizing support and the building of

communication, anger control, and relaxation skills; and

(b) the Single Parent Support Group, also based on support

and discussions oriented to participants as individuals and

as parents. Subjects in the study consisted of pairs of

divorced mothers and their children assigned either to the

previously mentioned conditions alone, a combined parent

and child intervention, or a no-program control group.

Outcome comparisons at the end of the 12-week intervention

and five months later indicated that children in the

support group alone improved most in self-concept and that








parents in the parent group alone condition improved most

in adjustment. The combined condition did not yield

parallel improvements (Stolberg & Garrison, 1985).

Pedro-Carroll and Cowen (1985) evaluated the efficacy

of a modified Children's Support Group for fourth through

sixth grade suburban children of divorce. Although this

more recent Children of Divorce Intervention Program

(CODIP) maintained the Children's Support Group (CSG)

emphasis on support and skill-building, it (a) added an

early affective component focusing on divorce-related

feelings and experiences; (b) supplemented Children's

Support Group cognitive skill building units by using

discussion, filmstrips, and role plays of emotionally laden

divorce-related experiences; and (c) reduced the number of

anger control sessions from five to three.

Program outcome was assessed from the perspectives of

teachers, parents, group leaders, and children to represent

key domains of the child's current adjustment. Program

children made significantly greater adjustment gains than

controls. Teachers judged them to have shown significantly

greater reductions in shyness, anxiety, and learning

problems and to have improved more on total competence and

specific competencies such as frustration tolerance, peer

sociability, compliance with rules, and adaptive

assertiveness. Parent and group leader reports indicated

significant decreases in problem areas such as feelings of







54

self-blame about the divorce and increases in competency in

the ability to solve personal problems. The program

children also reported significantly less anxiety than

controls at post and tended to have less negative self-

attitudes and perceptions about the divorce (Pedro-Carroll

& Cowen, 1985).

On the basis of these findings, Sterling (1986)

adapted CODIP for second and third grade suburban children

and conducted and evaluated the new program. This study

included 77 children of divorce randomly assigned to an

immediate 8-week, 16 session intervention and a delayed 5-

week, 11 session program that omitted the 5 session

problem-solving unit (Alpert-Gillis, Pedro-Carroll, &

Cowen, 1989). The program was assessed using child,

parent, teacher, and group leader measures of adjustment.

Significant gains in the participants' adjustment by

parents and group leaders were reported more so in the full

than the abbreviated intervention. Participants in the

full intervention also increased significantly in their

understanding of adjustment and divorce. These gains were

not confirmed by classroom teachers. Conceivably, time

constraints necessitating that the 16 session intervention

be conducted twice weekly in 30-35 minute sessions may not

have allowed enough time for children to consolidate key

program concepts and apply them in the classroom (Alpert-

Gillis et al., 1989).








Based on these findings, Alpert-Gillis et al. (1989)

developed and evaluated a new version of the CODIP. The

program had the same goals as the prior CODIP interventions

with a modified format and content to reflect developmental

and sociocultural realities of young children. More

emphasis was placed on teaching children (a) the use of

extended family members and other caring adults as sources

of support and (b) to cope with the problem of infrequent

contact with noncustodial parents.

The study included 185 second- and third-grade

children from eight urban schools in Rochester, New York:

52 program subjects, 52 divorce control subjects, and 81

intact comparison subjects. Groups were compared, pre and

post, on child, parent, and teacher adjustment scales

(Alpert-Gillis et al., 1989).

The main findings from this study indicate that the

program children's adjustment gains significantly exceeded

those of control and comparison children from all

perspectives and across most measures.

However important a supportive environment is in

helping children to identify, express, and deal with

salient feelings about their parents' divorce, it may not

by itself be enough to produce positive program outcomes

(Cantor, 1977). Acquiring specific competencies for

dealing with the concrete challenges that parental divorce

often creates is a co-equal need (Pedro-Carroll & Cowen,







56

1985). Clinicians need to regard divorce today as a "life

experience which has exposed children to certain challenges

and demands without predetermining the emotional valance of

the event" (Bernard & Nesbitt, 1981, p. 40).

Primary prevention programs for children of divorce

should focus on the important influences on adjustment and

on modifying constructively the child's response to them

(Stolberg & Garrison, 1985). Individual variables that

predict children's divorce adjustment include age, sex, and

emotional predisposition of the child (Hetherington, 1979;

Kurdek & Siesky, 1981).

Highlighting relationships between environmental and

familial changes and children's divorce adjustment helps to

identify activities that may be integral components of a

preventive intervention. Lost support systems must be

replaced. Altered living circumstances and reduced

parental availability and financial resources may result in

increased feelings of anger and frustration in children.

Helping children to understand these confusing events

should also serve to reduce their anger, frustration, and

self-blame (Stolberg & Garrison, 1985).










CHAPTER III
METHODOLOGY



This study was designed to investigate the

effectiveness of a structured small-group counseling model,

developed by the researcher, to assist children in grades 4

and 5 with adjustment to their parents' divorce.

Specifically, children's adjustment was assessed by

instruments which measured problematic beliefs about

divorce, school behaviors, and self-concept. The remainder

of this chapter includes a description of the population

and participants, randomization procedures,

instrumentation, data collection, and the data analyses.

Research Design

This experimental study utilized a randomized control

group, pretest-posttest design. Data were collected and

analyzed from the pretest and posttest mean total scores.

The dependent variables in this study were the

students' (a) problematic beliefs about parental divorce,

(b) behaviors in school, and (c) self-concepts. The

independent variables included (a) group (small group

counseling or no counseling), (b) gender, and (c) the

length of time since the parents' divorce.









Hypotheses

The hypotheses of this study were:

Ho 1: There is no significant difference between

experimental and control group students' mean

total scores on the Children's Beliefs About

Parental Divorce Scale.

Ho 2: There is no significant difference between

experimental and control group students' mean

total scores on the Teacher Report Form of the

Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist.

Ho 3: There is no significant difference between

experimental and control group students' mean

total scores on the Piers-Harris Children's

Self-Concept Scale.

Ho 4: The length of time since the parents' divorce

has no significant impact on the effectiveness

of the intervention by group.

Ho 5: The gender of the child has no significant

impact on the effectiveness of the intervention

by group.

Population

The population from which the participants for this

study were selected was students in grades 4 and 5 whose

parents' were divorced at (a) P. K. Yonge Laboratory

School, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; (b)

Idylwild Elementary School, Gainesville, Florida; (c)









Melrose Elementary School, Melrose, Florida; (d)

Interlachen Elementary School, Interlachen, Florida; (e)

Padgett Elementary School, Lakeland, Florida; and (f)

Lincoln Avenue Elementary School, Lakeland, Florida.

Ninety-six students agreed to participate in the study.

An invitation to participate in this study was first

extended to the Directors of Student Services in Alachua,

Putnam, and Polk Counties. The invitation was made by

submitting a brief, written summary of the study and the

specific involvement necessary by school personnel and

students. Once approved by the Directors of Student

Services, all schools in each county were extended

permission by the Directors of Student Services to

participate in the study via a memorandum sent to each

school principal. All schools that indicated an interest

in participating in the study were included.

Participants

Selection of students for participation in this study

was made from fourth and fifth grade students attending the

6 participating elementary schools who met the following

criteria:

1. Parents were divorced.

2. Child lived with the mother only.

3. Child was not concurrently receiving counseling

while participating in the study.








4. Child was not presently enrolled in or eligible

for enrollment in a special education program.

A letter from the researcher was sent to the parents of all

eligible students in grades 4 and 5 of the participating

schools requesting permission to have their child

participate in the study. The letters were distributed to

the students to take home in a sealed envelope. This was

done to prevent any embarrassment or discomfort to

potential participants and their families and to protect

the disclosure of information some families may consider

confidential. The parents were asked to return the

permission forms to their child's classroom teacher. A

total of 96 students met the criteria for participation in

the study and returned permission forms signed by their

parents. All 96 students participated in the initial 2

weeks of the study. Eight students withdrew from school

before the completion of the study leaving a final number

of participants at 88.

The subjects with permission to participate in the

study were randomly placed in one of two groups--

experimental or control, at their respective schools.

Prior to this random placement the subjects were further

identified by gender and length of time since their

parents' divorce. The name of each male whose parents were

divorced for 2 years or less (4/88 through 4/90) were

written on an index card and placed in a box marked








accordingly (males--parents divorced 2 years or less).

This process was also used with the following categories of

subjects: males whose parents were divorced for more than

2 years (before 3/88), females whose parents were divorced

for 2 years or less (4/88 through 4/90), and females whose

parents were divorced for more than 2 years (before 3/88).

This provided a more equal distribution of subjects by

gender and length of time since divorce in each of the

control and experimental groups. The final number of

participants in each cell was as follows:


EXPERIMENTAL


CONTROL


-2 years +2 y


MALES


-2 years


FEMALES


+2 y


12 1


'ears



7



'ears



.6


-2 years +2 years



11 8



-2 years +2 years



8 16


Total Experimental = 45 Total Control = 43

Total N = 88


Implementation of the Study

All of the participants were notified of their

eligibility for participation in the study by their









classroom teacher. They were told that they had been

selected to participate in a special program with the

school counselor and a counselor from Gainesville, Florida.

This type of group introduction to any activity outside of

the classroom is often used by teachers at these schools.

The classroom teachers were specifically instructed by the

guidance counselor to say:

"Our guidance counselor has been invited to
participate in a very important project with a
graduate student from the University of Florida by
the name of April Sameck. Several students from
our school in grades 4 and 5 will participate in
this project. If I call your name, you are one of
these students. You will meet with (Guidance
counselor's name) today (date) at (time).
(Guidance counselor's name) will explain how you
might participate in this project and answer any
questions you might have. Your participation in
the project will be voluntary but you are
requested to attend this meeting before making a
decision about whether you will or will not
participate."

The elementary school counselor at each school led the

structured small-group intervention used in this study.

The researcher developed and wrote the intervention titled

K.I.D.S. (Kids in Divorce Situations). The idea for the

intervention was initially conceived by this researcher as

a response to the need for a guide in assisting children

with their adjustment to their parents' divorce. At that

time, she was an elementary school guidance counselor. The

K.I.D.S. intervention for grades 4 and 5 was written

specifically for use in this study.








The purpose of the K.I.D.S. small-group counseling

intervention was to assist elementary school children in

grades 4 and 5 with adjustment to their parents' divorce.

Specifically, this intervention was designed to explore

problematic beliefs often associated with divorce. The

primary goals of the intervention were to provide an

opportunity for the children to explore these problematic

beliefs and to attempt to modify any negative beliefs.

K.I.D.S. was extensively reviewed prior to this study

by 12 professional school counselors and 6 licensed mental

health counselors and school psychologists for their

responses to questions regarding (a) the clarity of the

directions provided for the counselor to lead the

intervention, (b) the appropriateness of the information

and activities for the grade levels for which the

intervention is designed, (c) the appropriateness of the

coordination of the problematic beliefs and the

corresponding role play activities, (d) these

professionals' evaluations regarding the appropriateness of

the specific problematic beliefs addressed in this

intervention as common issues of children of divorce, (e)

whether they would themselves use this intervention in

their work with children whose parents are divorced, and

(f) whether they would like a copy of the intervention.

All 18 evaluators responded yes to all questions. Many

added expletives such as "great," "always," "excellent,"








64

etc. The only recommendations for changes were related to

typographical errors.

The intervention was structured and designed for seven

one-hour sessions over seven consecutive weeks. The

sessions for this study were scheduled by the school

counselor with the assistance of the appropriate classroom

teachers. The sessions were not held during primary

academic instruction time in the regular classroom nor

during resource class times.

The sequence of the K.I.D.S. small group sessions and

the objectives of each session are as follows:


WEEK I INTRODUCTION TO THE GROUP

Welcome participants.
Introduction of leader.
Explanation of the purpose of the group.
Definition of the criteria for eligibility
as a group member.
Explanation and guidelines of expectations
of group members and the leader.
Presentation of the topics to be discussed
and the types of activities that will
occur during the intervention.
To become acquainted with one another.

WEEK II SELF BLAME

To become further acquainted with one
another.
To explain the problematic belief of SELF
BLAME to the group members.
To brainstorm group lists of the advantages
and disadvantages of divorce for the
children of the family.
To role play situations related to SELF
BLAME.








WEEK III PEER RIDICULE AND AVOIDANCE

To become aware of each group member's
present family structure and the
differences in these structures.
To explain the problematic belief of PEER
RIDICULE AND AVOIDANCE to the group
members.
To role play situations related to PEER
RIDICULE AND AVOIDANCE.

WEEK IV PATERNAL/MATERNAL BLAME

To explain the problematic beliefs of
PATERNAL and MATERNAL BLAME to the
group members.
To identify possible reasons that children
have for blaming one parent for the
divorce.
To role play situations related to PATERNAL
and MATERNAL BLAME.

WEEK V FEAR OF ABANDONMENT

To participate in a "Trust Walk" with a
partner.
To explain the problematic belief of FEAR
OF ABANDONMENT to the group members.
To role play situations related to the FEAR
OF ABANDONMENT.

WEEK VI HOPE FOR REUNIFICATION

To participate in the "IF I Had A Magic
Wand" Activity.
To explain the problematic belief of the
HOPE FOR REUNIFICATION to the group
members.

To role play situations related to the HOPE
FOR REUNIFICATION.

WEEK VII GROUP EVALUATION AND CLOSURE

To review the problematic beliefs addressed
in the previous six sessions.
To discuss the advantages and disadvantages
of the group intervention in assisting
the members with adjusting to their
parents' divorce.
To participate in a Trust Walk with a
partner.










To write a letter of "thank you" to their
parents for permitting them to
participate in this group.


The researcher trained the school counselors

participating in this study in the use of the K.I.D.S.

intervention. This training required approximately six

hours of reading instruction and preparation of all

materials necessary for implementation of the K.I.D.S.

intervention. Each counselor was trained at the school

setting on a day and at a time convenient to the counselor.

The specific training process included the following

sequence:

1. Counselors were given the written intervention

several days prior to the training meeting and asked to

read it in its entirety before the meeting.

2. At the training meeting the researcher

a. reviewed the intervention with the counselor

and discussed the specifics to be covered

in each session and answered any questions.

b. discussed and demonstrated how each instrument

was to be administered.

c. assisted, when requested, with the preparation

of any materials necessary to implement the

intervention (i.e., balance beams, charts,

etc.).








Instrumentation

Each student in the control and experimental groups

was administered the following instruments: (a) the Piers-

Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale (1984 edition), (b)

the Teacher's Report Form of the Achenbach Child Behavior

Checklist (1983), and (c) the Children's Beliefs About

Parental Divorce Scale (Kurdek & Berg, 1987).

Self-Concept

The Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale,
subtitled The Way I Feel About Myself, is a brief,
self-report measure designed to aid in the
assessment of self-concept in children and
adolescents. Self-concept, as assessed by this
instrument, is defined as a relatively stable set
of self-attitudes reflecting both a description
and an evaluation of one's own behavior and
attributes. Items on the scale are scored in
either a positive or negative direction to reflect
this evaluative dimension. A high score on the
scale suggests a positive self-evaluation, whereas
a low score suggests a negative self-evaluation.
The Piers-Harris focuses on children's conscious
self-perceptions, rather than attempting to infer
how they feel about themselves from their
behaviors or the attributions of others. It was
developed as a research instrument to provide a
quantitative, self-report measure of children's
self concepts. It is intended for use with
children in grades 4 through 12 (ages 8 through 18
years). To insure that the respondents understand
the nature of the task and do not have any
unanswered questions about individual items, the
scale generally should not be administered to more
than 8 or 10 children at a time. (Piers & Harris,
1984, pp. 1)

The scale consists of 80 test items that measure

children's evaluations of their behavior, intellectual and

school status, physical appearance and attributes, anxiety,

popularity, and satisfaction. The test consists of a








series of declarative or unsuccessful functioning in each

of these areas.

Because this is a self-report measure, it is
particularly susceptible to conscious and
unconscious distortions. For this reason, it
should not be used as the sole method of
assessing self-concept where this is being used
to influence important decisions about a child.
To guard against overinterpretation only very low
scores (e.g., 16th percentile or below) should be
considered significant and even these should be
interpreted cautiously. Likewise, extremely high
scores may result because of defensiveness or
social desirability.

The test was normed on a sample of 1,183 Pennsylvania

school children in grades 4-12. Experimental variations of

the test have been suggested, such as rewriting items

tapping the affective domain (Michael, Smith, & Michael,

1975) and replacing the dichotomous response format with a

Likert scale (Lynch & Chaves, 1975). These suggestions

have not been empirically explored.

The Piers-Harris is a paper-and-pencil test designed

to be administered individually or in small groups with

verbal instructions from the examiner. The test is self-

paced. When reading the items aloud, the examiner must

wait for all examinees to respond before proceeding to the

next item. When subjects read the items to themselves they

are allowed as much time as needed to make their responses.

For this study the Piers-Harris was read to the examinees

by the school counselor in small groups of 8 or less.

Studies on the reliability of the Piers Harris Scale

have been conducted on a variety of child populations. The








internal consistency of the test as a whole is relatively

high. Alpha coefficients of .90-.91 have been reported for

male and female populations and reliabilities of .88-.93

have been cited for males and females using the Kuder-

Richardson formula 20 (Piers & Harris, 1984). Similarly

high internal consistency measures have been found with

special populations, including the learning disabled (Smith

& Rogers, 1978) and native Americans (Lefley, 1974).

Test-retest reliabilities range from .42 to .96 in the

literature with retest intervals of a few weeks to six

months. These reliabilities have been established in

normal populations (e.g., Shavelson & Bolus, 1982),

learning disabled students (Smith, 1978), and in children

from different ethnic backgrounds, including black and

Mexican American children (Platten & Williams, 1979, 1981),

Mexican-American migrant workers (Henggeler & Tavormina,

1979), and American Indian students (Lefley, 1974).

School Behaviors

The students' school behaviors were assessed using the

Teacher Report Form of the Achenbach Child Behavior

Checklist. This instrument is designed to obtain teachers'

reports of their pupils' problems and adaptive functioning

in a standardized format. It is modeled on the Child

Behavior Checklist, which was developed to obtain parents'

reports of their children's problems and competencies

(Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983).








The Child Behavior Checklist is designed to be used

with children 4 through 16 years of age. To reflect sex

and age differences, separate versions of the teacher

profile have been constructed for each sex at ages 6-11 and

12-16.

The percentiles and normalized T scores of the profile

were derived from data provided by 665 teachers in grades 1

through 10 regular classrooms who completed the Teacher

Report Form (TRF) on one randomly selected boy and girl in

their classes. These data were obtained in 1981-82 from

teachers in public and parochial schools in Omaha,

Nebraska, Nashville, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh,

Pennsylvania.

Teachers are asked to rate responses to 118 items

related to behavior problems, academic performance, and

adaptive functioning which includes how hard the child is

working, how appropriately he or she is working, how

appropriately he or she is behaving, how much he or she is

learning, and how happy he or she is.

The validity and reliability of the instrument are

described in the administration manual (Achenbach &

Edelbrock, 1983). Pearson correlations for test-retest

reliability are generally in the high .80s and .90s, with

minimal changes in mean scores over the test-retest

reliability periods. Sensitivity to longer-term change in

treated children has been evident in significant declines








in problem scores over periods of 3, 6, and 18 months.

Pearson correlations for agreement between mothers and

fathers and between teachers are in the .60s and .70s.

Discriminate validity has been demonstrated by significant

differences between item and scale scores for

demographically matched referred and nonreferred children.

Numerous studies of clinical, epidemiological, and research

applications of the assessment procedures are underway in

several countries.

The teachers of each of the students in this study

completed the Teacher Report Forms.

Children's Beliefs About Parental Divorce

The Children's Beliefs About Parental Separation Scale

(CBAPS) was used to assess children's problematic beliefs

regarding parental divorce.

The Children's Beliefs About Parental Separation
Scale (CBAPS) began as a 52-item projective test
(Kelly & Berg, 1978). It was then revised into a
70-item yes/no objective scale (Kurdek & Berg,
1983). The current (1987) 36-item version was
developed by item analysis of the 70-item version
and by rewriting several items to control for a
yes/no response set. The CBAPS contains six items
for each of six belief domains (subscales) that
were selected on the basis of the problematic
beliefs cited in clinical literature (Gardner,
1976; Kelly & Berg, 1978; Mendell, 1983;
Wallerstein, 1983). (Kurdek & Berg, 1987, p. 712)

The subscales and their clinical significance are

described as:

1. Self-Blame Subscale. Some children may believe

that their parents' separation is due to








something they themselves said or did. Such

beliefs can lead to guilt and depression.

2. Peer Ridicule and Avoidance Subscale. Children

may believe that their parents' separation

reflects negatively on themselves. Thus, they

may avoid peers and get upset when peers ask

questions about their parents. This belief may

preclude the child's using friends as a source of

emotional support.

3. Paternal Blame and Maternal Blame Subscales.

Children may believe that one parent is entirely

responsible for the separation. This belief may

contribute to negative interactions with that

parent in the postseparation period.

4. Fear of Abandonment Subscale. Because separation

involves one parent moving out of the house,

extensive contact with that parent may be lost.

Some children may believe that they will

eventually lose contact with the resident parent

as well, which may lead to excessive dependency

and obsessive thoughts and fears about such loss.

5. Hope of Reunification Subscale. Some children may

believe that the parents' reunification will be

hastened by their own activities, for instance by

wishing for it or by getting sick. Such beliefs

can result in children's repeated disappointment.








Items on the scale are keyed for problematic

responding. Scores for the six subscales are derived by

summing the number of problematic beliefs within each

subscale (total possible score per subscale = 6). A total

possible score is derived by summing the number of

problematic beliefs across all items (total possible score

= 36). A high score indicates the child has a number of

problematic beliefs which may need to be addressed by a

professional helper.

A study was conducted in 1987 to evaluate psychometric

properties of the CBAPS regarding internal consistency,

factor structure and test-retest reliability. The study

further presented descriptive data on the relationship

between the CBAPS and the child's age and gender, the

length of parental separation, and the family structure

(single parent with mother or father or reconstituted

family with stepmother or stepfather). To assess

concurrent validity, CBAPS scores were related to

multiscore, multivariable assessments of children's

adjustment that included self-report measures of self-

concept, control beliefs, social support, anxiety, and

interpersonal problem-solving as well as parent and teacher

ratings of internalizing and externalizing behavior

problems.

The subjects of this latter study were 170 children

(84 boys, 86 girls; mean age = 11.06 years, SD = 2.64








74

years) with divorced parents. The age range of the sample

was 6-17. Most of the children (56%) lived with single

mothers; 24% with remarried mothers; 12% with single

fathers; and 3% with other (e.g., grandmother, aunt).

Subjects were recruited from court records of

dissolutions of marriage in Montgomery County, Ohio (1984),

grades 3-6 of a public elementary school, and grades 7-9 of

a junior high school in the same school district

(Montgomery County). Despite the nonclinical nature of the

sample, an appreciable number of the children held

problematic beliefs regarding their parents' divorce. Most

of the item total correlations were moderately high (range

= .15-.65; M = .46) and the alphas were somewhat higher

(range = .54-.78, M = .70). Cronbach's alpha for the total

score (M = 8.20, SD = 4.98) was .80.

A principal components analysis with varimax rotation

was conducted to further examine internal consistency. Six

factors were requested to check for empirical support for

the priori construction of the six subscales. These

factors had eigenvalues ranging from 1.44 to 5.42 and

accounted for 50% of the total variance. The relative

independence of the subscales was further confirmed by

computing Pearson correlations among the six subscales.

These ranged from .06 to .46 with a mean correlation of

.18. Self-blame factors did not emerge as a separate










factor but the subscale was retained in further analysis

because the items in this subscale did cluster together.

Test-retest (9 week) data were collected from the 30

junior high school sample (mean age 12.69 years). For the

Peer Ridicule and Avoidance, Hope of Reunification, Fear of

Abandonment, Maternal Blame, Paternal Blame, and Self Blame

subscales, the respective Pearson correlations were (.41,

.51, .52, .51, .72, and .43 (p < .01). The correlation for

the total scale was .65 (p < .01).

Pearson correlations were computed between the seven

scores (total score and six subscales) and age, gender, and

length of parental separation. Given the number of

correlations computed the Type I error rate per test was

set at .002 (alpha of .05 divided by the number of

significance tests). Using this criterion, only one

coefficient was significant. The number of Hope for

Reunification beliefs was negatively related to age r = -

.48.

The CBAPS is a paper-and pencil test designed to be

administered individually or in small groups with verbal

instruction from the examiner. It is self-paced, therefore

the examiner must wait for all examinees to respond before

proceeding to the next item. For this study the CBAPS was

read to the examinees by the school counselor in small

groups of 8 or less.









Analysis of Data

Hypotheses one through five of this study were

analyzed by an analysis of variance using the statistical

package GLM procedure to assess significant differences in

the pretest and posttest mean total scores. A three-way

factoral ANOVA (group by gender by length of time since

divorce) with repeated measures was conducted to determine

if significant differences existed between the experimental

and control groups for gender and length of time since

divorce on the dependent variables of problematic beliefs,

school behaviors, and self-concept. The alpha levels were

set at .05.









CHAPTER IV
RESULTS



The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of

a small group intervention on elementary school children in

grades 4 and 5 whose parents were divorced. The

independent variables included student groups (small group

counseling or no counseling), student gender, and length of

time since their parents' divorce.

The dependent variables were measured using the

Children's Beliefs About Parental Divorce Scale (1987), the

Teacher's Report Form of the Achenbach Child Behavior

Checklist (1983), and the Piers-Harris Children's Self-

Concept Scale (1984).

The study included 88 fourth- and fifth-grade children

from six different Florida schools. There were 45

experimental program participants and 43 control

participants. Criteria for inclusion in the program

included student (a) participants' parents were divorced,

(b) participants lived with their mothers only, (c)

participants were not concurrently receiving counseling

while participating in the study, and (d) participants were

not currently enrolled in or eligible for enrollment in a

special education program.









78

Letters describing the study were sent to the parents

of fourth- and fifth-grade children in all 6 participating

schools whose parents were divorced. Ninety-six of the

returned letters were from students meeting the criteria

for participation in the study. All 96 students

participated in the first two weeks of the study. Eight of

the student participants withdrew from school during the

first two weeks of the study leaving a final number of

participants at 88 who completed the study.

The participants included 52 females and 36 males: 32

females' parents had been divorced more than 2 years, 20

females' parents had been divorced 2 years or less; 15

males' parents had been divorced more than 2 years, and 21

males' parents had been divorced less than 2 years.

Random within-school division of the total participant

pool yielded group intervention (experimental, E; n=45) and

no group intervention (Control, C; n=43) groups matched for

gender and length of time since their parents' divorce

(Table 1).

The experimental and control groups had six mixed

gender and mixed length of time since divorce subgroups.

The group's participants met in their home schools for

seven weekly, 60-minute sessions during the school day.

The group counseling intervention was led by the













Table 1

Participant Characteristics by Gender and Length of Time
Since Parents' Divorce



Experimental Control
-2 years +2 years -2 years +2 years


MALES 10 7 11 8


FEMALES 12 16 8 16


Total Experimental = 45 Total Control = 43

Total N = 88



Participating Elementary Schools



Name of School City County


Idylwild Elementary School Gainesville, FL Alachua
Interlachen Elementary School Interlachen, FL Putnam
Lincoln Elementary School Lakeland, FL Polk
Melrose Elementary School Melrose, FL Putnam
Padgett Elementary School Lakeland, FL Polk
P. K. Yonge Elementary School Gainesville, FL Alachua







80

previously, specially trained guidance counselor at each of

the six participating schools.

Pretesting on all measures for all participants was

completed approximately one week before the intervention

was initiated. Testing with children was done in small

groups of 6-8 with experimental and control participants

being tested separately. Posttesting on all measures for

all participants was completed using the same procedures

one week after the intervention ended.

The results of data analyses are presented in this

chapter including the patterns and trends found in the

data.

Research Hypotheses

Research Hypothesis One

Hypothesis one addressed whether there would be

significant differences between the experimental and

control group students' mean total scores on the Children's

Beliefs About Parental Divorce Scale (CBAPDS). Table 2

includes pretest and posttest group means, standard

deviations, and univariate group x time interactions for

the CBAPDS.

Tests of hypotheses for between subjects effects

yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 0.92 PR > 0.3397 indicating no

significant differences by group on the CBAPDS mean total

scores. Univariate tests of hypotheses for within subjects

effects revealed significance in the interaction of time by









group (Table 3). The experimental groups posttest total

mean score was lower than the pretest total mean score.

The control group's posttest total mean score was higher

than the pretest total mean score.

A three-way factoral ANOVA (group x sex x length of

time since divorce) with repeated measures was conducted

for Hypothesis One (Table 4).

Comparison of mean CBAPDS scores at pretest for

experimental (M=7.73, SD=4.65) and control (M=7.37,

SD=4.19) groups yielded an ANOVA F (1.80) of 0.56,

PR>0.4575. There were no significant group differences at

pretest on CBAPDS total scores.

Comparison of mean CBAPDS scores at posttest for

experimental (M=5.86, SD=4.02) and control (M=8.51,

SD=4.98) groups yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 6.00,

PR>0.0165. The experimental group scored significantly (at

the .05 level) lower than the control group. A lower score

on the scale indicates a decrease in problematic beliefs

regarding parental divorce.

The statistical data for total mean scores by group on

the CBAPDS yielded a significant difference and null

hypothesis one is thus rejected at the .05 level of

significance (Figure 1).














I--


I --


I --

I --


I --


I --


I --


I --


I --


I --


I --

I --


I --

I --


I--

I-


Pretest


Posttest


Figure 1. Total mean scores on the Children's Beliefs
About Parental Divorce Scale.


(C=8.51)


(E=7.73)



(C=7.37)



(E=5.86)









Table 2
Group Pretest (Pre) and Posttest (Post) Means, Standard
Deviations, and Univariate Group X Time Interactions for
the CBAPDS



Scores E(n=45) C(n=43) Group x Time
Pre Post Pre Post F PR>F


CBAPDS
(df=1,80)

Mean 7.73 5.86 7.37 8.51 12.70 0.0006*

S.D. (4.65) (4.02) (4.19) (4.98)


Note: E=experimental group; C=control group;
CBAPDS=Children's Beliefs About Parental Divorce
Scale



Table 3

Univariate Tests of Hypothesis for Within Subjects Effects
for the CBAPDS



Dependent
Variable Source DF SS F PR>F


CBAPDS Time 1 1.80 0.23 0.6334
Time*Group 1 100.24 12.70 0.0006*
Time*Gender 1 15 61 1.98 0.1635
Time*Group*Gender 1 2.36 0.30 0.5857
Time*Divorce 1 0.36 0.05 0.8294
Time*Group*Divorce 1 13.78 1.75 0.1901
Time*Gender*Divorce 1 0.76 0.10 0.7575
Time*Group*Gender
*Divorce 1 0.62 0.08 0.7796


Note. Time=pretest and posttest;
Group=experimental and control;
Gender=male and female;
Divorce=+2 years and -2 years












Table 4

Analysis of Variance With Repeated Measures for CBAPDS by
Group, Gender, and Divorce



Dependent
Variable Source DF SS F PR>F


CBAPDS
(Pretest)







CBAPDS
(Posttest)


Group
Gender
Group*Gender
Divorce
Group*Divorce
Gender*Divorce
Group*Gender*Divorce


Group
Gender
Group*Gender
Divorce
Group*Divorce
Gender*Divorce
Group*Gender*Divorce


10.80
9.29
0.50
47.99
12.02
0.96
44.77


118.20
74.60
2.13
36.83
3.18
0.06
31.08


0.56
0.48
0.03
2.48
0.62
0.05
2.31


6.00
3.79
0.11
1.87
0.16
0.00
1.58


0.4575
0.4907
0.8719
0.1196
0.4333
0.8240
0.1325


0.0165*
0.0551
0.7426
0.1753
0.6889
0.9550
0.2126


Research Hypothesis Two

Hypothesis two addressed whether there would be

significant differences between the experimental and

control group students' mean total scores on the Teachers'

Report Form of the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist

(TRFACBC). Table 5 includes pretest and posttest group

means, standard deviations and univariate group x time

interactions for the TRFACBC.









Tests of hypotheses for between subjects effects

yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 1.67 PR > 0.1060 indicating no

significant differences by group on the TRFACBC.

Univariate tests of hypotheses for within subjects effects

did not reveal significance in the interaction of time by

group (Table 6).

A three-way factoral ANOVA (group x gender x length of

time since divorce) with repeated measures was conducted

for Hypothesis 2 (Table 7).

Comparison of mean TRFACBC scores at pretest for

experimental (M=26.93, SD=28.32) and control (M=40.72,

SD=37.60) yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 3.21, PR>0.0769.

There were no significant group differences at pretest on

the TRFACBC total scores.

Comparison of mean TRFACBC scores at posttest for

experimental (M=28.28, SD=28.04) and control (M=37.90,

SD=31.25) groups yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 1.79,

PR>0.1847. There were no significant group differences at

posttest on TRFACBC total scores.

The statistical data for total mean scores by group on

the TRFACBC were not significant and null hypothesis two is

not rejected.








Table 5

Group Pretest (Pre) and Posttest (Post) Means, Standard
Deviations, and Univariate Group X Time Interactions for
the TRFACBC



Groups
Scores E(n=45) C(n=43) Group x Time
Pre Post Pre Post F PR>F


TRFACBC
(df=1,80)

Mean 26.93 28.28 40.72 37.90 1.06 0.3052

S.D. (28.32) (28.04) (37.60) (31.25)


Note: E=experimental group; C=control group;
TRFACBC= Teachers Report Form of the Achenbach Child
Behavior Checklist


Table 6

Univariate Tests of Hypothesis for Within Subjects Effects
for the TRFACBC



Dependent
Variable Source DF SS F PR>F


TRFACBC Time 1 144.35 1.07 0.3043
(df 1,80) Time*Group 1 143.80 1.06 0.3052
Time*Gender 1 1009.83 7.48 0.0077*
Time*Group*Gender 1 40.08 0.30 0.5874
Time*Divorce 1 32.55 0.24 0.6248
Time*Group*Divorce 1 323.75 2.40 0.1255
Time*Gender*Divorce 1 99.52 0.74 0.3932
Time*Group*Gender
*Divorce 1 80.20 0.59 0.4432


Note. Time=pretest and posttest;
Group=experimental and control;
Gender=male and female;
Divorce=+2 years and -2 years









Table 7


Analysis of Variance With Repeated Measures for TRFACBC by
Group, Gender, and Divorce



Dependent
Variable Source DF SS F PR>F


TRFACBC Group 1 3099.63 3.21 0.0769
(Pretest) Gender 1 16737.68 17.34 0.0001*
Group*Gender 1 118.17 0.12 0.7273
Divorce 1 504.97 0.52 0.4716
Group*Divorce 1 130.88 0.14 0.7137
Gender*Divorce 1 403.37 0.42 0.5198
Group*Gender*Divorce 1 18.29 0.02 0.8908


TRFACBC Group 1 1498.86 1.79 0.1847
(Posttest) Gender 1 7129.01 8.51 0.0046*
Group*Gender 1 3.67 0.00 0.9473
Divorce 1 207.44 0.25 0.6200
Group*Divorce 1 1360.63 1.62 0.2061
Gender*Divorce 1 35.71 0.04 0.8369
Group*Gender*Divorce 1 287.06 0.34 0.5599


Research Hypotheses Three

Hypothesis three addressed whether there were

significant differences between the experimental and control

group students' mean total scores on the Piers-Harris

Children's Self-Concept Scale (PHCSCS). Table 8 includes

pretest and posttest group means, standard deviations, and

univariate group x time interactions for the PHCSCS.

Tests of hypotheses for between subjects effects

yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 0.51 PR > F 0.4787 indicating









no significant differences by group on the PHCSCS.

Univariate tests of hypotheses for within subjects effects

revealed significance in the interaction of time by group

(Table 9). The experimental groups posttest total mean

score was higher than the pretest total mean score. The

control group posttest total mean score was higher than the

pretest total mean score.

A three-way factoral ANOVA (group x gender x divorce)

with repeated measures was conducted for Hypothesis Three

(Table 10).

Comparison of mean PHCSCS scores at pretest for

experimental (M=51.48, SD=16.16) and control (M=54.55,

SD=12.58) groups yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 1.87,

PR>0.1753. there were no significant differences at

pretest on the PHCSCS total scores.

Comparison of mean PHCSCS scores at posttest for

experimental (M=58.15, SD=14.89) and control (M=56.74,

SD=13.79) groups yielded an ANOVA F (1,80) of 0.00,

PR>0.9656. There were no significant differences at

posttest on the PHCSCS total scores.

The statistical data for total mean scores by group on

the PHCSCS were not significant and null hypothesis three

is not rejected.








Table 8

Group Pretest (Pre) and Posttest (Post) Means, Standard
Deviations, and Univariate Group X Time Interactions for
the PHCSCS



Scores E(n=45) C(n=43) Group x Time
Pre Post Pre Post F PR>F


PHCSCS
(df=1, 80)


51.48 58.15


54.55 56.74


4.32 0.0408*


(16.16) (14.89) (12.58) (13.79)


Note: E=experimental group; C=control group;
PHCSCS=Piers Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale




Table 9

Univariate Tests of Hypothesis for Within Subjects Effects
for the PHCSCS



Dependent
Variable Source DF SS F PR>F


PHCSCS Time 1 796.32 16.28 0.0001*
(df 1,80) Time*Group 1 211.44 4.32 0.0408*
Time*Gender 1 126.36 2.58 0.1120
Time*Group*Gender 1 25.73 0.53 0.4704
Time*Divorce 1 25.94 0.53 0.4686
Time*Group*Divorce 1 0.48 0.01 0.9210
Time*Gender*Divorce 1 116.36 2.38 0.1270
Time*Group*Gender
*Divorce 1 4.92 0.10 0.7519


Note. Time=pretest and posttest;
Group=experimental and control;
Gender=male and female;
Divorce=+2 years and -2 years


Mean

S.D.









Table 10

Analysis of Variance With Repeated Measures for PHCSCS by
Group, Gender, and Divorce



Dependent
Variable Source DF SS F PR>F


PHCSCS Group 1 397.77 1.87 0.1753
(Pretest) Gender 1 147.14 0.69 0.4081
Group*Gender 1 437.96 2.06 0.1552
Divorce 1 4.92 0.02 0.8795
Group*Divorce 1 50.17 0.24 0.6285
Gender*Divorce 1 235.24 1.11 0.2962
Group*Gender*Divorce 1 92.74 0.44 0.5110


PHCSCS Group 1 0.38 0.00 0.9656
(Posttest) Gender 1 785.54 3.84 0.0536
Group*Gender 1 189.13 0.92 0.3394
Divorce 1 99.76 0.43 0.5122
Group*Divorce 1 65.09 0.32 0.5745
Gender*Divorce 1 0.00 0.00 0.9954
Group*Gender*Divorce 1 42.14 0.21 0.6513


Research Hypothesis Four

Hypothesis four addressed whether the length of time

since the parent's divorce would have a significant impact

on the effectiveness of the intervention by group.

Tests of hypotheses for between subjects effects for

group by divorce interactions were not significant for any

of the dependent variables. Univariate tests of hypotheses

for within subjects effects for the interaction of time by

group by divorce were not significant (Tables 3, 6, and 9).









The ANOVAs for group by divorce interactions (Tables

4, 7, and 10) were not significant for any of the dependent

variables.

The statistical data for group by divorce total mean

scores were not significant and null hypothesis four is not

rejected.

Research Hypothesis Five

Hypothesis five addressed whether the gender of the

child would have a significant impact on the effectiveness

of the intervention by group.

Tests of hypotheses for between subjects effects for

group by gender interactions were not significant for any

of the dependent variables. Univariate tests of hypotheses

for within subjects effects for the interaction of time by

group by gender were not significant (Tables 3, 6, and 9)

for any of the dependent variables.

The ANOVAs for group by gender interactions (Tables 4,

7, and 10) were not significant for any of the dependent

variables.

The statistical data for group by gender total mean

scores were not significant and null hypothesis five is not

rejected.




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