The impact of divorce or separation on child-rearing styles can be different, depending on various factors such as sex, age, education level, relationships with the child, and social background. For example, more highly educated fathers who are divorced are more likely to have an authoritative parenting style (Bastaits, Ponnet, Van Peer, & Mortelmans, 2014). The authors also point out that girls of divorced fathers are more likely to have a parent with an uninvolved rearing style because fathers identify more with their sons than daughters (Bastaits et al., 2014). Furthermore, divorced parents are more likely to have different rearing styles; if a mother has an authoritative parenting style, a father is more likely to have a permissive parenting style.
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Both authoritative and attached rearing styles have a direct impact on a child’s identity development (Tsuji, 2017). Alami, Khosravan, Moghadam, Pakravan, and Hosseni (2014) found that there was a positive correlation between an authoritative style and adolescents’ self-esteem both in two-parent and single-parent families.
It should be noted that widowed mothers had a particular parenting style that was characterized as sentimental and focused on self-ignorance, sacrifice, and extensive child care (Alami et al., 2014). Such parenting displayed a high level of support and a low level of control and aligned with the characteristics of a similar parenting style known as supportive parenting.
Parental stress related to a conflict with his or her spouse or divorce can also significantly influence the rearing style of a parent. Single parents who express signs of anxiety or depression are more likely to develop anxious rearing styles that will also evoke anxious behaviors in their child (Platt, Williams, & Ginsburg, 2016). It is important to remember that if a divorced parent is able to support friendly relationships with their former spouse, it is more likely that their parenting style will be more efficient, and the child will not be involved in the parental conflict (Amato, 2014).
Additional attention should be paid to the parenting style of nonresident fathers. Nonresident fathers can display an authoritative style of parenting that will be efficient for the child due to shorter lengths of meetings and the general greater distance of parenting of a nonresident father. However, divorce or separation can also lead to a more aggravated parenting style of mothers (Karre & Mounts, 2012).
Since separation or divorce can lead to serious stress or depressive symptoms in parents, it is also possible to assume that the rearing style might change from authoritative to uninvolved, from attached to low-support parenting. A low level of conflict with an ex-spouse can also encourage the parent to have a more sensitive parenting style than if a conflict between former spouses is present.
At the same time, both mothers and fathers can develop excessive authoritarian parenting style during or after the divorce proceedings due to high-stress levels or alienation from their child. An authoritative parenting style is not a negative factor per se because it can influence the child positively. However, if the child-parent relationships are complicated with issues triggered by a divorce (parental stress, depression, anxiety, possible substance abuse, or worsened mental health), an authoritative style can become too excessive, and, thus, ineffective or even harmful.
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It is less likely that a divorce or separation will influence the rearing styles positively; however, if divorced parents are able to maintain friendly relationships, their rearing styles might be more supportive and attentive to the needs and demands of their child.
Alami, A., Khosravan, S., Moghadam, L. S., Pakravan, F., & Hosseni, F. (2014). Adolescents’ self-esteem in single and two-parent families. International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery, 2(2), 69-76.
Amato, P. R. (2014). The consequences of divorce for adults and children: An update. Drustvena Istrazivanja, 23(1), 5-25.
Bastaits, K., Ponnet, K., Van Peer, C., & Mortelmans, D. (2014). The parenting styles of divorced fathers and their predictors. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(5), 557-579.
Karre, J. K., & Mounts, N. S. (2012). Nonresident fathers’ parenting style and the adjustment of late-adolescent boys. Journal of Family Issues, 33(12), 1642-1657.
Platt, R., Williams, S. R., & Ginsburg, G. S. (2016). Stressful life events and child anxiety: Examining parent and child mediators. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 47(1), 23-34.
Tsuji, B.H. (2017). Human development. Class notes in PSYC1002R, Carleton University.