Department of Public Health Sciences

Effects of family structure on the adolescent separation-individuation process

McCurdy, S. J. and A. Scherman

Adolescence. 1996. 31(122):307-319.

This study examined the effects of college students' family structures on the separation-individuation process. Family structure groups investigated were (1) intact; (2) divorced, mother-custody, no remarriage; and (3) divorced, mother-custody, remarried. The components of the separation-individuation process examined were attachment to parents, conflictual independence, internal self-awareness, ego identity, and self-esteem. Results indicated that adolescents from intact families perceived themselves as having more conflictual independence from and more positive emotional relationships with their fathers than did those from divorced or remarried families. The groups did not differ in ego identity or self-awareness. Both attachment and conflictual independence from fathers were related to self-esteem. Conflictual independence from mothers was also related to self-esteem, while attachment to mothers was not. Ego identity was related to self- esteem, but self-awareness was not. The discussion addresses both clinical and future research implications.

Keywords: Adolescence, *Adolescent Psychology, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Child Custody, Conflict (Psychology), Divorce/psychology, Ego, *Family Characteristics, Female, Human, *Individuation, Male, Object Attachment, Parent-Child Relations, Paternal Deprivation, Personality Tests, Self Concept

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