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Influence of Divorcing Parents' Post-Separation Dating Relationships on Children's Behavior

Jones, Ethan Ryan
Divorce for many families is a common life trajectory, with divorce rates being about half of first marriages (Amato, 2010; Frisby, Booth-Butterfield, Dillow, Martin, and Weber, 2012). On average, children from divorced families have significantly lower scores in academic achievement, behavioral conduct, self-concept, and social competence than their counterparts from intact families (Amato & Keith, 1991) and are at an increased risk for emotional and social problems (Amato, 2000). Using Family Development Theory the present study will examine three primary research questions examining the relationship among child behaviors (externalizing or internalizing), parenting practices (positive parenting, inconsistent discipline, poor supervision), dating status, and parental stress in order to investigate some significant variables that may be affecting children during the divorce process. Parents dating status did moderate the relationship between divorcing parents parenting practices and their child's externalizing behavior but it did not for their child's internalizing behaviors. The findings of this study both confirm previous research as well as expand knowledge into a very important stage of development within an ecosystemic framework (Bronfebrenner 1996; Laszloffy 2002; Minuchin, 1976). It demonstrates how subsystems influence communication, available resources, meaning-making and the experience of family stress.