Young adult offspring of divorced/separated parents: An investigation of their needs for *control, structure, and order
The purpose of the current study was to investigate the need for control, structure, and order demonstrated by young adults who experienced parental divorce and/or separation at age 16 or older as compared to young adults who did not experience parental divorce/separation. Participants between the ages of 18 and 25 completed a series of questionnaires assessing desire for control, structure, and order. Surveys included the Personal Need for Structure Scale (PNS), the Shapiro Control Inventory Desire for Control scale (SCI) and the Personality Research Form (PRF) Change, Cognitive Structure, Impulsivity, and Order scales. Participants also completed a version of the Life Events Survey - Revised (LES-R2), a questionnaire designed to assess experience of stressful life events. This survey was included to investigate the relationship between experience of negative, stressful life events and parental marital status and the experience of stressful life events and need for control, structure, and order. Results of a MANOVA indicated that young adults of divorced/separated parents did exhibit more of a need for control, structure, and order than did young adults of married families. A discriminant analysis suggested that differences between the 2 groups could be explained by the higher-order PNS variable. The groups did not differ in their experience of negative, stressful life events. The experience of negative, stressful life events was not related to need for structure, order, and control. Findings suggested that the disruption to routine, stability, and identity caused by parental divorce might have created a need for compensatory control in young adults that was manifested in a need to structure and control their environments. The current study also found that regardless of marital status, young adults between ages 22–24 reported the highest need for control, structure, and order. Future exploration of young adults' specific compensatory control efforts might help identify adaptive and non-adaptive coping responses to a stressful experience such as parental divorce. Future research might also focus on the changing need for control, structure, and order over the adolescent and young adult years. Further development of measures of need for control and attempts at obtaining control would be beneficial.
January, Erika Wilde, "Young adult offspring of divorced/separated parents: An investigation of their needs for *control, structure, and order" (2003). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3084889.