Divorce adjustment in preadolescent children, and the Rainbows support group intervention

Gerald Matthew Roherty, Marquette University


While studies on the effects of divorce on children have been equivocal on the magnitude of children's post-divorce adjustment problems when compared with children from intact families, there is general agreement in clinical theory and empirical research that divorce can create unique problems for children. This study utilized a pretest-posttest, quasi-experimental design to investigate the effectiveness of a community-based support group intervention for children of divorce by comparing 7 to 13 year old children receiving the intervention to children in a waiting list control group on measures of self-esteem, behavior, anxiety, perceptions of divorce, and use of coping strategies. This study also attempted to investigate whether Rainbows support group participation mediated successful post-divorce adjustment. It was hypothesized that successful post-divorce adjustment would be influenced by positive changes in children's perceptions of divorce, and increased use of positive coping strategies. This study provided no statistical support for the hypothesis that participation in the Rainbows program would positively influence children's post-divorce adjustment. MANOVA results indicated positive changes in the hypothesized direction for both groups. Significant group x time interactions were not found on any of the adjustment measures administered; although times effects were found for both groups on the anxiety, behavior, and coping skills measures. No support was found for the hypothesis that improvements in children's use of positive coping strategies would mediate the relationship between participation in the Rainbows program and children's post-divorce adjustment. Correlational analyses provided some support, however, for a relationship between children's perceptions of divorce, and post-divorce adjustment. Positive perceptions of divorce were related to higher self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety for both groups at both measurement times. Study limitations were summarized, and recommendations were offered for future research on the measurement of children's post-divorce adjustment, and the training and implementation of the Rainbows curriculum.

Recommended Citation

Gerald Matthew Roherty, "Divorce adjustment in preadolescent children, and the Rainbows support group intervention" (January 1, 2000). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI9977720.