Expecting to Be Rejected or Accepted: Children's Optimistic and Pessimistic Relationship Expectations, Divorce, Interparental Conflict and Parenting

Leanne McGregor, Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck, University, My
2018
Based on recent estimates within Australia, approximately 32% of marriages end in divorce, and almost 50% of these families include children. Divorce can be distressing for children, as revealed by investigations comparing children from intact and divorced families on conduct, psychological adjustment, self-concept, and social adjustment (Amato, 2000). These early comparisons, however, were usually accomplished without consideration of other aspects of the family system (i.e., family
more » ... , family processes). More recently, researchers have investigated family structure and family processes as correlates of children's adjustment. One important aspect of children's adjustment is the development of their expectations of social relationships with others. Founded in attachment theory and social cognitive theories of the need to belong and concerns about rejection, family problems and divorce have been proposed as correlates of children's ways of thinking about their current and future relationships (children's relationship expectations), but this has received little research attention. In the final of the three studies reported here, family structure and processes were expected to be correlates of children's relationship expectations. Prior to testing these hypotheses, however, available measures of children's relationship expectations were identified. This revealed that there was no existing measure that assessed optimistic and pessimistic relationship expectations, which could be quickly completed by both children and early adolescents. Hence, a new measure was developed in the first two studies by drawing on the literature on relationship models and cognitions (e.g., rejection and interpersonal sensitivity, and working models of self and others in relationships), and the optimism/pessimism literature. The exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses results reported in Study 1 (N = 226; ages 9 to 12 years) and Study 2 (N = 200; ages 9 to 12 years) resulted in a 16-item measure of children's optimistic and pessimistic relationsh [...]
doi:10.25904/1912/471 fatcat:nwx3jkzt4fc3devjfy6dc2nrhe