The relationship between parental marital status, family rapport, and the self-reported psychopathology of adolescents

Andrea L Apuzzi, Pace University


Divorce and remarriage rates in this country are among the highest in the world, and both variations in the traditional parental marital status can place children at increased risk for developing social, psychological, behavioral, and academic problems. The existing body of research on the effects of divorce and remarriage on children is inconsistent and limited in focus, in that the climate of the family life generally was not considered in the early literature. Thus, the present study was designed to address the relationship between parental marital status and family rapport on the self-reported psychopathology in adolescents from a predominantly middle to upper middle class suburban town. A sample of 175 high school students (grades 9-12) were taken from a larger longitudinal study of adolescent development and depression. Three Parental Marital Status groups were used: Divorced/Not Remarried (N = 38), Divorced/Reconstituted (N = 50), and Married (N = 87). All subjects completed two self-report measures: the Family Rapport Scale of the Millon Adolescent Personality Inventory, and the problem scales of the Youth Self Report. Additionally, a demographic sheet was filled out, yielding pertinent information about the students and their parents' marital status. The relationship between the two quasi-independent variables (Parental Marital Status and Family Rapport) and the dependent variable (Self-Reported Externalizing and Internalizing Psychopathology) was examined. Additional variables such as Gender, Chronological Age, Age of the Child at the Time of Divorce, Time Elapsed Since the Divorce, and Remarriage were studied as potential predictors of clinical levels of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. Analyses of Variance and Stepwise Discriminant Analysis procedures were used in order to test the research questions for significance. Results of the present study suggest that Family Rapport, rather than Marital Status can account for differences in levels of self-reported psychopathology in the three groups of adolescents. Family functioning is the factor most contributory to adolescent behavior problems, not parental marital status; thus, divorce is not as crippling as it has been suggested to be. No gender differences were noted across the marital status groups, and remarriage did not add to the prediction of behavior problems. Implications for school psychology and suggestions for further research are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Apuzzi, Andrea L, "The relationship between parental marital status, family rapport, and the self-reported psychopathology of adolescents" (1996). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9701160.



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