Consequences of Divorce as Reflected in Parent, Teacher, and Self-Reported Problems Among Urban Chinese Children

A previous study by Liu et al. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2000, 39, 896-903) revealed significantly higher CBCL and TRF problem scores for children in divorced than non-divorced families living in rural areas of China.

A new study by Dong, Wang, and Ollendick (2002) has reported similar findings for children living in large Chinese cities. Although others have hypothesized that problem scores on CBCLs completed by mothers may be inflated by maternal depression, Dong et al. found that “teachers indicated a greater negative impact of divorce on children’s adjustment (all eight ASEBA subscales, as well as internalizing, externalizing, and total problems scores) than did parents in divorced families” (p. 108).

In addition, self-reports on the Children’s Depression Inventory and the Revised Manifest Anxiety Scale also indicated significantly more problems among children in divorced than non-divorced families. Although parents’ distress may well increase both their children’s actual problems and the parents’ perceptions of the problems, the Dong et al. findings indicated that teachers and the children themselves, as well as the parents, reported more problems for children in divorced than non-divorced families.

A novel feature of the Dong et al. study was the inclusion of measures of parenting styles. In stepwise regression analyses, parenting styles characterized by rejection added significant variance to divorce in predicting CBCL and TRF problem scores. Thus, although divorce was a risk factor for children’s problems, parental rejection added to the risk posed by divorce.

Reference: Dong, Q., Wang, Y., & Ollendick, T.H. (2002). Consequences of divorce on the adjustment of children in China. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31, 101-110.