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21-12-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 3/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 3/2016

Non-Residential Father–Child Involvement, Interparental Conflict and Mental Health of Children Following Divorce: A Person-Focused Approach

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 3/2016
Auteurs:
Kit K. Elam, Irwin Sandler, Sharlene Wolchik, Jenn-Yun Tein

Abstract

Variable-centered research has found complex relationships between child well-being and two critical aspects of the post-divorce family environment: the level of non-residential father involvement (i.e., contact and supportive relationship) with their children and the level of conflict between the father and mother. However, these analyses fail to capture individual differences based on distinct patterns of interparental conflict, father support and father contact. Using a person-centered latent profile analysis, the present study examined (1) profiles of non-residential father contact, support, and interparental conflict in the 2 years following divorce (N = 240), when children (49 % female) were between 9 and 12 years of age and (2) differences across profiles in concurrent child adjustment outcomes as well as outcomes 6 years later. Four profiles of father involvement were identified: High Contact–Moderate Conflict–Moderate Support, Low Contact–Moderate Conflict–Low Support, High Conflict–Moderate Contact–Moderate Support, and Low Conflict–Moderate Contact–Moderate Support. Concurrently, children with fathers in the group with high conflict were found to have significantly greater internalizing and externalizing problems compared to all other groups. Six years later, children with fathers in the group with low contact and low support were found to have greater internalizing and externalizing problems compared to children with fathers in the high conflict group, and also greater internalizing problems compared to children with fathers in the low conflict group. These results provide insight into the complex relationship among non-residential fathers’ conflict, contact, and support in child adjustment within divorcing families.

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