PSY3123B Psychology of the Family Final Notes
Textbook Chapters 10-15
Lectures + Guest Lectures LS10-15
A2004 study published outlined that it was healthier to be married.
Divorce: is the legal dissolution of a marriage.
Separation: a couple whose relationship breaks down and they decide to live apart.
Divorce is not uniform and should not be oversimplified as there is different experiences in every family.
The History of Divorce
In each Canada, laws were strict and divorce was infrequent. The church denied divorce all together and adultery by the wife was the only grounds for legal divorce because of
After confederation in 1867 if there was no divorce court in the province you could submit the bill to parliament.
- men had to prove their wife had cheated
- women had to prove that they were deserted
- because divorce was so time consuming desertion was the “poor mans” divorce
After WWII the Canadian government implemented no fault principles for divorce.
Why? WWII made women gain more independence, men came back with PTSD, hasty marriages prior to the war, etc, so divorce rates shot up.
- neither anglican or roman catholic churches recognized divorce or re-marriage until the mid 1960s
- in 1960 a legal divorce costs $2500 which is the equivalent to $20 000 today
1968 The DivorceAct (Canada) No fault principle of marriage breakdown was introduced.
- rates of divorce spiked dramatically and continued to rise until 1985
1985: The DivorceAmendment
- reduced waiting period for marriage breakdown (divorce) to 1 year
- divorce rates spiked again then steadily decreased
Present Day Divorce: Divorces in midlife are increasingly common.
-Silver Separations” are an increasing amount of people who choose to get divorced after 65 years old.
many initiated by women
- most feel relief in leaving an unfulfilling relationship
- hard on the homemaker wife who does not have an income of pension to rely on
- some see divorce as a personal failure
The Divorce Act recognizes three legal grounds for divorce:
3. being separated for more than one year
Researchers have identified three different kinds of issues which leads to divorce:
1. Fundamental Issues: most agreed upon reasons for divorce among gen-x, baby boomers, and older people
i. Abusive behaviour from the partner (most agreed upon reason for divorce → 95%)
ii. Unfaithful behaviour from the partner
iii. Lack of love and respect from the partner
2. Experiential Issues (second most agreed upon reason for divorce → 40-17%)
i. constant disagreement about how family finances should be handeled
ii. unsatisfactory sexual relationship
iii. unsatisfactory division of household tasks
iv. conflict about how the children are raised
3. Fertility Issues (very few people believe this is grounds for divorce
i. inability to have children with the partner
ii. disagreement about the number of children to have
iii. % of individuals who would stay for the children
Signs that predict divorce (John Gottman’s 1994 Theory: the four horsemen of the apocalypse)
4. stonewalling: to stop trying, turning out of the relationship
Social factors which predict divorce:
2. Socioeconomic Status: lower SES predictors higher rates of divorce probably because of the stress of financial hardship
3. Cohabitation before marriage: the more cohabitation partners before your marriage the more likely you are to get a divorce
4. If parents have divorced, you are more likely to (ie. cultural factors)
Timing of divorce is often carefully planned especially if there is children involved.
- it is not a single phase of ones life
usually there is a plan in place for the breakup of the family system - women might wait until they get a job
- might wait until children are older
- required cooperation between parents
It typically takes 1-3 years for the individuals to regain normality after a divorce.
The 3 Crises:
The Emotional Crisis
- loss of important relationship
- usually centre of their lives
- redefine themselves as single people
- relationship with extended family members changes
Different Patterns ofAdjustment
- wives often encourage healthy behaviour, in the divorce these bad behaviours could come back and spiral out of control
men are sometimes more emotionally dependent on their wives
- wives often have more outside social networks to rely on
- 71% of men will confide in their wives
- 39% of women will confide in their husbands
Enhancers Predominantly female, the group ﬁnds a higher quality of life through work or by
continuing their education.
Goodenoughs The largest group, manage well and six years after the divorce their lives are generally
the same pre-divorce. (Remarried, pretty happy, etc.)
Seekers Are anxious for a new mate and may not be careful in their choice.
Swingers Tend to be male; dress young, lots of drugs, casual sex, etc.
Competent Loners Similar to enhancers but not seeking a new partner.
Defeated Are still mired in despair long after the divorce.
The three aspects of the emotional crisis:
1. Ex-spouse must accept loss of their marriage and mourn.
2. Must deal with identity issues.
3. Must build new social networks as singles.
The Economic Crisis
- divorce can be very standard
- there is often a drop in standard of living for the parent who gets the children
- no longer dual income
How funds and custody are determined (Figure)
The Parenting Crisis
- new boundaries
- old rituals are abandoned
- relationships with each parent rather than as a parental unit
Divorce changes children’s lives forever: where they will live, who they interact with, relationships with friends.
The Children of Divorce
They are at greater risk of developing developmental problems than children of two parent families.
Important factors in divorce (for the children):
2. Boys and girls may be affected differently → gender socialization may be different depending on which parent you loose.
3. Level of parental conflict before and after separation.
4. Number of life changes after the divorce.
5. Nature of new parenting arrangements.
Children’s stressors in divorce: separation, conflict, poor parenting, loss of relationship, financial hardship.
Children’s protective factors in divorce: effective parenting, reduced conflict, strong relationships, social support, ties with both parents before and after divorce.
i. Sole Custody: one parent alone
ii. Joint Custody: both parents have equal custody
iii. Share Custody: both parents have joint custody and spend at least 40% of the time with their children iv. Split Custody: one parent has custody over some of the kids, the other parent has other kids
- failure to pay child support
- preventing visitation
- child kidnapping by noncustodial parent
- pressure on mothers to have custody
LS11 Lone Parent Families
What is a lone parent family? Amother or father who has no spouse or common law partner present, living in
a dwelling with one or more children. In 2001 this was 15.7% of all census families, in 2011 it was 16.3% of all
Close to 20% of children under the age of 12 live in a lone-parent household across Canada.
- 12% in 1931, dropped until the 1960s then increased again, probably due to the DivorceAct of 1968
- common law wasn’t a category until 1961
- 8/10 lone parent families are headed by a woman → used to be a larger gap but now not as much
- lone parent families are more frequent among visible minorities
- aboriginal families are more likely → 34% of their population vs. 17% of the general Canadian population
Increases in lone parenthood
- in the 30s and prior lone parenthood was most like to be attributed to divorce
- however today there is an increase of unmarried mothers
- with women’s increased independence it makes it ok and easier to raise kids by yourself
- being a lone parent isn’t forever, the kids may grow up or you may get remarried
- single adolescent mothers have not found their identity and are not emotionally as regulated as
an older parent → thus, making them less emotionally engaged with their children
- children and marriage are regarded separately, where in the past they were regarded almost as
the same thing
- increased divorce rate
Becoming a lone parent may be the result of: not marrying, divorce, or death.
Lone parenthood and assisted reproductive technologies: allow some older women to have children
without a partner.
- usually among successful women who can support themselves
- likely to have higher education and well established careers
- you need money forART in the first place so higher SES among these mothers is more likely
- less common among men
Economic Quality of Life: as a group, lone parent families have the lowest average of total incomes
(obviously because there is no dual income).
2008Average: female led 42 000, male led 60 400/
Female lone parents are at risk of living in poverty, especially among visible minorities.
Working lone mothers experience increased tension in juggling work, family, and daycare.
→ 2010 regulated childcare spaces could only accomodate 19% of children
→ Canada is one of the last among developed countries in terms of acces to childcare
Figure: overall poverty risk vs. risk of being in poverty as a single mother. In Scandinavian
countries being a single mother is not a risk factor because of protective childcare benefits.
Housing Quality of Life: single largest expense for most single mothers (30% of all income). Most
cannot buy a house so tend to rent apartments, row housing, or co-operative housing. Single
mothers are more likely than others to live in low-income areas. Living in low income
neighbourhoods poses risk factors for the children.
Social Quality of Life: most adults report adequate social contact.
Social support: (1) how supportive is society as a whole. (2) immediate sources of emotional
and practical help within your own personal social circles.
Social support is very important for mental health and can mediate mild to moderate
Are children of lone parents at risk?
Confounding factors could involve parents arguing leading up to divorce, negative household
environment, children had similar behaviours before parents separated, some kids improve
after divorce because a decrease in household conflict.
- stereotyped as being more aggressive, delinquent, and emotionally disturbed
1. On average, children from single-parent families do not do as well in school as children
in two-parent families.
2. Children growing up in divorced homes start work earlier.
3. More likely to enter partnerships at an early age and divorce if they marry.
4. If parents separated before the child is five → more likely than others to have long-term
emotional difficulties, committed a serious crime, or have had a child outside of marriage.
Are these the results of confounding effects? Probably. For example, children who were born out ofART to single moms are probably not at risk of these factors.
Two aspects of the family life are affected:
1. Relationships within the single-parent family.
2. Relationships within families formed by adult children of single parents.
Single parents are less likely to be emotionally supportive of their children.
Several explanations account for differences between children from one-parent and stable two-parent families.
1. Economic hardship
2. The quality of parenting
4. Witnessing conflict in the family
5. There may be a genetic factor
proportion of lone-parent fathers is growing
- in 2011 21.1% of all lone parent families were father led
- typically expected to be the sole economic support for their families
- tend to spend less time caring for young children than single mothers do
Teen Mothers: a woman who has her first birth under the age of 20. What has changes is that most teen mothers are now single mothers. Concern over teen births focused on fewer
young ones (under 15) rather than the older majority (18-20).
- occurs if they feel life projects are not promising and the only thing they have going for them is having a kid
- must live at home with parents for help
relationship with parents/grandparents is crucial
LS12a Cross CulturalAttachment (Guest Lecture)
Attachment Theory: an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for normal social and economic development.
John Bowlby: observed that children left alone, abandoned, or in orphanages don’t develop optimally. Children deprived of their mothers might have long-lasting cognitive and
- in 1951 Bowbly was highly controversial because children at the time were regarded as little adults and should be left alone
1. Between 6 and 30 months, children form emotional attachments to familiar caregivers, especially if the adults are sensitive and responsive to child’s communication attempts.
2. Young children show emotional attachment by preferring and wanting to be close to familiar people, especially in times of distress, and by using familiar adults as a secure
based from which to explore the environment.
3. The formation of emotional attachments contributes to the foundation of later emotional and personality development.
4. Events that interfere with attachment have short-term and long-term negative impacts of a
child’s emotional and cognitive life.
Sroufe (2005): said nothing can be assessed in infancy that is more important.
did attachment experiments on Rehsus monkeys
- had babies in a cage with a wire food dispensing monkey and a soft monkey
- when they had to pick a fake monkey to go to they chose the soft one in times of distress
- they would eat but then go cuddle with the fake mom
MaryAinsworth’s Strange Situation
1. Parent and infant alone
2. Stranger joins parent and infant
3. Parent leaves infant and stranger alone
4. Parent returns and stranger leaves
5. Parent leaves; infant left completely alone
6. Stranger returns
7. Parent returns and stranger leaves
The Development ofAttachment
Is the attachment figure sufficiently near, attentive, and responsive?
1. If yes, then the child feels security, love, self confidence, etc. and their play is sociable,
exploration orientated, and less inhibited.
2. If no:
a. Inconsistently: ResistantAttachment → the child becomes preoccupied with the attachment and is clinging to the figure, anxious about seperation and exploration.
b. Consistently:AvoidantAttachment → the child becomes defensive and avoidant of contact, appears indifferent about seperation and reunion with primary caregiver.
Disorganized (Type D)Attachment → occurs 13% of the time.
AttachmentAround the World
1. First studies: Ganda children who clap to show affection, whileAmerican children hug and kiss.
2. Nigerian Hausa: polymathic, multiple mother figures which children form attachments with, but often preferred just one who interacted with them most.
3. Dogon: 67% formed secure attachment, 0% avoidant, 8% resustant, and 25% disorganized. Why? Mother infant eye contact is discouraged as it is disrespectful to look at an
older person in the eye. But, moms wear infants on their chest so there is constant physical contact and breastfeeding upon stress 4. Northern Germany: 2/3 of children are insecurity attached, and half of the remaining population are avoidant. This is because independence is highly valued and there is early
self-reliance.Avoidant attachment results in poor peer relationships and greater dependence at age ten. Securely attached individuals were more confident, self-reliant, and
5. Japan: mixed findings, more resistant, clingy, whiny. But these finding could be applicable to the culture. The concept of amae refers to “the behaviour of a person attempting
to induce an authority figure, such as a parent, spouse, teacher, or supervisor, to take care of him”
6. Korea: almost no avoidant children. Less proximity seeking and contact maintaining. More emphasis on interdependence and mothers are very likely to pick up their infants.
7. China: similar to Korea in that there is value placed in interdependence and emotional harmony. 68% were securely attached, perceived the ideal child to be one that is
securely attached → coincidence in coinciding withAinsworth’s theory.
8. Israel: Kibbutz babies slept collectively away from their parents were shown as less secure. There was much more resistant and less avoidantly attached individuals.
9. Adoptions: The study examined dutch mothers who adopted babies from Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Columbia. 74% of these children were securely attached. The adoptive
mother’s sensitivity is comparable to non-adoptive birth mothers.Another study of Canadian mothers adopting babies from Romania showed that the children were well
adjusted if adopted before six months. However, secure attachment was less frequent.An argument for faster adoption processes is the fact that an infant has a significantly
more difficult time adjusting.
Secure attachment style is observed similarly across the world. USA67%, Western Europe 66%,Africa 57-69%, China, 68% Japan 61-68%.
The types of insecure attachment (avoidant, ambilvalent, disorganized) are less similar.
A(avoidant) → higher in western europe
C (resistant) → higher in Japan/Israel
Cultural values (dependency or independence) and perceived stress by the strange situation methods can influence how attachment is measured.
Attachment in the West
1. The Universality Hypothesis: all infants become attached to one or more specific caregivers.
2. The Normativity Hypothesis: majority of infants are securely attached (but up to 40% are insecure) → in stress, secure infants settle more easily.
3. The Sensitivity Hypothesis: attachment security depends on sensitive/prompt responses to the infants’signals (causal relation).
4. The Competence Hypothesis: attachment security → children’s regulation of negative emotions, relationships, and cognitive abilities.
Sensitive Parenting: maternal views of the ideal sensitive mother are highly similar between Dutch, Turkish, and Moroccan cultures. It shows that she is aware of her child’s
distress but does not respond - higher agreement between turkish and moroccan than dutch.
Higher attachment the longer you breastfeed your child.
Quality of the parent-child relationship is dependent on
1. Parent factors: mental health, relationships, history
2. Context: social support, family, job conditions, finances
3. Characteristics of the child: temperament and behaviour
Asecure parent means there is a 75% chance that the child is going to be secure.
Disorganized/Can’t Classify Unresolved/Fearful
Child to adult attachment translation
LS12b Infant-Parent Bedsharing
All mammals sleep in proximity to their young.
Humans traditionally did too, crib sleeping was rare until the 20th century.
This shift occurred because western cultures began to favour individualism, autonomy, romantic love,
sexual privacy, adoption of bottle feeding.
Now, solidary sleeping is now the norm. The place of infant sleep is a controversial topic, there are
recommendations against bed-sharing but some parents argue for bedsharing.
Figure: Meta-analysis of bed-starring frequencies. Red being more incidents of bedsharing and green
In the Netherlands: at two months the highest cases of bed sharing occur among Caribbean, the Dutch
and the lowest among the Turkish.At 24 months, Caribbeans are still the highest, then moderate for
Turkish and lowest for Dutch. Showing that Turkish maintains their low levels until two years, and
Dutch drops of dramatically.
Predictors of bed-sharing differ between ethnicities. Dutch mothers are more likely to bed share if they are depressed, the child has a bad temperament, or their is household
crowding (reactive bed-sharing).
International bed sharing would be choosing to bed share based on the benefits to your child, not as a reaction to circumstances. Breastfeeding and bed-sharing is bidirectional: bed sharing mothers are more likely to breastfeed, breastfeeding
mothers are more likely to bed-share.
Behaviours of bed-sharing parents:
- mothers adopt a stereotypical posture but only if they also breastfeed
- mothers uncover their babies
- awaken twice as often to feed compared with solitary sleeping mothers
Physiology of bed-sharing parents
- mom brief (transient) arousal precede babies arousal → evidence for some physiological synchrony
- some studies show bed-sharing babies have more sleep problems
- some show no association
- greater vigilance in bed-sharers
Less cortisol (stress) reactivity in bed-sharers.
Asthma and Bed-Sharing
1. Hygiene Hypothesis
2. Crowding and Viral Load
Babies who bed-share at 24 months had more wheezing symptoms, but it could be
because parents brought them into bed to monitor wheezing symptoms.
Bed sharing is not related to cognitive outcomes.
There is lower use of security and transitional objects.
Solitary sleepers have a lower secure attachment score.
- public message increasingly discourages bed-sharing
some states in the USAhave considered making it illegal
- tenuous link between bed-sharing and SIDS
- links to suffocation, SIDS, and babies overheating
- many parents continue to bed share
- see it as protective and normal
- some proven benefits (cognitive, lack of transitional objects, higher security
-revention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
sleeping on the tummy
- marital smoking
- 1-6 months of age
- sharing a bed with others
Amarriage that takes place after a previous marriage has ended. Current divorce rate is increasing as are remarriages.
Stepfamily: a family where the children are related to one parent but not the other.
Simple vs. Complex Step Family
Asimple stepfamily is when only one of the members has a prior child.Acomplex or blended family is when both parents have children from previous marriages.
Remarriage Trends: until the end of WWII remarriage only occurred following the death of the spouse. Now it follows divorce. This is due to
1. increased life expectancy
2. changes in divorce law (1968 and 1985)
3. improved pensions
4. greater acceptance of common law unions and single living
How common is remarriage?
Fewer people who are divorced intend to remarry. More than 6 in 10 divorced Canadians don’t want to remarry.
2006: 26% of women and 37% of men entered into a conjugal relationship within three years of divorce. Within 20 years 69% of women and 82% of men have entered a conjugal
- parries and Ontario have the highest rates of wanting to be remarried
- Quebec has the lowest
- more likely to be older
- 3x more likely to be living in a common law union
- almost twice as many said they had financial concerns
Three stages of forming a new family
1. Entering the new relationship
2. Planning the new marriage and family 3. Forming the union
Boundaries in a second marriage → difficult to establish because:
1. Parents and children do not all live together.
2. Partners keep separate finances.
3. Authority over children is divided among two households.
Role Changes: Who can parent the child? What is the role of the step-mother or step-father in parenting? The oldest or youngest child sometimes do not still hold those roles.
Being a couple → the second time around.
- commitment is just as important
- couples are less romantic, and more realistic and honest
- parent child body exists before marriage which can cause loyalty issues
Residential Parent-Child Relationship
- relationship often suffers in the early post-divorce period
- children can become parentified
- child must give up some responsibility and closeness to the new adult in the family
loyalty is questioned in the parent-child relationship
Important for the following reasons:
1. Problems in this relationship can eventually destroy the marriage.
2. Adolescents in step families are at high risk of developing behavioural problems.
Depends on the age and sex of the child: more successful with younger children, more report postive relationships with boys than girls.
Step-siblings do not often live together. Children expect their birth parents to consider them special and side with them in conflicts → interpreted by children as favouritism.
1. Develop an appropriately affectionate relationship with the child.
2. Establish themselves as legitimate parental authorities.
Have a baby is related to stepfamily stability and longitudinal outcomes.
Effects of stepfamily on children:
- very similar to children raised by single mothers
- slightly more education, emotional, and behavioural difficulties (could be because of step family and single parent stress)
- more stress because of transitions
- ambiguity of family roles
However, we can’t generalize this finding because everyone is different.
FamilyAdaptation: Successful stepfamilies have realistic expectations and ability to cooperate. How family members view remarriage effects their adaptation.
James Bray’s Stepfamily Types
1. Romantic: The couples romanticize the new family and expects that feels of love, closeness, and harmony will arise immediately. Probably as a result of unrealistic
expectations, this type is least likely to succeed.
2. Matriarchal:As the name suggests, the female parent has a dominant function. She often has a powerful personality and is comfortable taking the leadership role. This type
can succeed if the male parent has compatible values.
3. Neotraditional: This type comes closest to the idealized image of the loving and functional stepfamily. The couple has a realistic understanding of the issues and challenges of
forming a stepfamily and develops effective strategies for dealing with them. This type of stepfamily is the most successful.
Societal Influences: society has trouble accepting non-traditional caregivers such as stepparents. Given the number of children involved, important to develop a model of
stepfamily health rather than stepfamily disturbance.
LS14 The Family and Work
Since 1987 the average amount of hours worked per week in Canada has dropped from 37.5 to 36 in 2011.
France and Germany (presumably other countries in western Europe) have dropped dramatically from 2200 to 1500 hours per year since the 1950s while the USAhas dropped
from 1900 to 1700 (less significant decrease).
Dual Income Families
- the majority of families are dual income, meaning both parents are working
- this creates an interplay between work and family responsibilities puts pressure on family
women have increased as a part of the workforce from 37.1% to 47.9% between 1976 and 2009
Women with children who work:
Trends: women with children of all ages have become increasingly part of the workforce since 1976. Typically 30% among all women.
Trends: single earner families make less money than lone parent families. Dual parent incomes obviously mak