Long-Term Effects of a Parenting Preventive Intervention on Young Adults’ Painful Feelings About Divorce

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Abstract

This study examined whether the New Beginnings Program (NBP), a parenting preventive intervention for divorced mothers that was designed to reduce children’s postdivorce mental health problems, reduced painful feelings about divorce in young adults whose families had participated 15 years earlier. This study also explored whether NBP participation reduced the relations between young adults’ painful feelings about divorce and their concurrent internalizing, externalizing, and substance use problems. Participants (M = 25.6 years; 50% female; 88% Caucasian) were from 240 families that had been recruited into a randomized experimental trial (NBP vs. literature control). Data from the pretest and 15-year follow-up were used. NBP participants reported less feelings of seeing life through a filter of divorce (e.g., thinking about how the divorce causes continued struggles for them) than those in the control condition. Program effects on maternal blame and acceptance of the divorce were moderated by pretest risk, a composite of divorce-related stressors and externalizing problems. NBP participants with elevated risk at program entry had lower levels of maternal blame. Program participation was associated with higher acceptance for those with elevated risk at program entry but lower acceptance for those with low risk at program entry. Program participation decreased the relations between maternal blame, acceptance of the divorce and filter of divorce and some, but not all, of the adjustment outcomes. These findings suggest that programs designed to help families after divorce have benefits in terms of long-term feelings about parental divorce as well as their relations with adjustment problems.

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