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Parental separation from an adolescent perspective: what do they say?

15 Jun 2012
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This paper highlights findings from interviews with adolescents from separated families.

At a general level, the study emphasised the importance of listening to the perspectives of young people on their experiences of parental separation, including what is important to them in adjusting to their changing families. Adolescents make considerable adjustments when parents separate, and the findings illustrate adolescents' differing developmental capacities to understand and accept family changes.

The findings indicate the need for varied forms of service provision that can meet a range of needs within the family, including adolescents' developmental needs. Promoting open and ongoing communication within families about the organisation and re-organisation of family life is important, particularly as the needs of adolescents change. Giving adolescents a role in decisions about practical aspects of family life was especially empowering for some adolescents - but importantly, not for all. The findings of the study also highlight the adolescents' sensitivity to the conflicts and distress of their parents. Finally, the study points to implications for services in supporting parents and their adolescent children to maintain strength and closeness of relationships over time, as a strong relationship with at least one parent is associated with more positive adjustment after parental separation.

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2012
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