Maternal acceptance and consistency of discipline as buffers of divorce stressors on children's psychological adjustment problems

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2000 Feb;28(1):87-102. doi: 10.1023/a:1005178203702.


This study examines whether two aspects of mothering--acceptance and consistency of discipline--buffer the effect of divorce stressors on adjustment problems in 678 children, ages 8 to 15, whose families had divorced within the past 2 years. Children reported on divorce stressors; both mothers and children reported on mothering and internalizing and externalizing problems. Multiple regressions indicate that for maternal report of mothering, acceptance interacted with divorce stressors in predicting both dimensions of adjustment problems, with the pattern of findings supporting a stress-buffering effect. For child report of mothering, acceptance, consistency of discipline, and divorce stressors interacted in predicting adjustment problems. The relation between divorce stressors and internalizing and externalizing problems is stronger for children who report low acceptance and low consistency of discipline than for children who report either low acceptance and high consistency of discipline or high acceptance and low consistency of discipline. Children reporting high acceptance and high consistency of discipline have the lowest levels of adjustment problems. Implications of these results for understanding variability in children's postdivorce adjustment and interventions for divorced families are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Divorce / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*