Differences in depression in children in stepfather families and nondivorced families




Milford, Sarah Anne

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This study investigated the relationship between family type, gender, life stress, social support, depression in the mother and contact with the nonresidential parent to depression and self-esteem in children of intact and stepfather families. Sixty four children (32 from intact families and 32 from stepfather families) between the ages of 8 and 11 participated in the study. The data were gathered through a combination of mother's report on the child and child's self-report techniques. Depression was measured using several mother's report and child's self-report measures. There was no significant difference between children in stepfamilies and children in intact families in depression or self-esteem. There were significant differences between boys and girls on measures of depression, although the differences were not in the predicted direction. Boys were found to be significantly more depressed than girls. In the combined analysis of mother's report of child's depression, children who were reported by mothers as more depressed tended to be boys whose mothers were also depressed. In stepfamilies, depression in the mother was the significant predictor. There was no individual predictor variables in nondivorced families for mother's report of child's depression. The combined analysis on life satisfaction indicated that girls with less life stress are more satisfied with life and self. Life satisfaction in nondivorced families was predicted by life stress and size of social support network. There were no significant predictors for life satisfaction in stepfamilies. Children who reported more depression also reported more life stress on the self-report. In stepfamilies, life stress and social support emerged as significant predictors. There were no significant predictor variables in nondivorced families. Girls reported higher self-esteem than boys. Limitations of the study and directions for future research are discussed.



Depression in children, Divorce, Education, Social sciences, Children of divorced parents, Mental health, Psychology, Family relationships