Post-Divorce Maternal Disclosure and the Father–Adolescent Relationship: Adolescent Emotional Autonomy and Inter-Reactivity as Moderators

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Utilizing longitudinal data from a project that examined the post-divorce lives of mothers and adolescents, we addressed two questions: (a) Does exposure to negative maternal disclosure about the ex-husband/father impact adolescents' perceptions of the father-adolescent relationship? and (b) Are adolescents with low emotional autonomy and high emotional inter-reactivity especially vulnerable? Participants were 154 adolescents, who ranged in age from 12 to 18 years at wave two. Although there was no significant bivariate association between maternal negative disclosure about the father and father-adolescent relationship quality, boys' level of emotional autonomy and emotional inter-reactivity moderated the association between maternal negative disclosure and the father–adolescent relationship. As hypothesized, boys with lower levels of emotional autonomy and higher levels of emotional inter-reactivity vis-à-vis their mothers perceived a lower quality of relationship with their father when their mother frequently disclosed negatively about the ex-husband/father. Research and applied implications are discussed.

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