Protecting Children From the Consequences of Divorce: A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Parenting on Children’s Coping Processes


  • Support for this research was provided by grants for the Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University (2 P30MH439246-18 and 5 P30MH068685-3, ASU Prevention Research Center for Families in Stress; 5T32MH01837-15, Research Training in Child Mental Health/Primary Prevention), and a grant for a 6-year follow-up of the preventive intervention under study (1 R01MH057013-01A). The authors are grateful to the families for their participation.

concerning this article should be addressed to Sharlene A. Wolchik, Prevention Research Center, Arizona State University, Psychology North, P.O. Box 876005, Tempe, AZ 85287-6005. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examines whether intervention-induced changes in mother–child relationship quality and discipline led to short-term (6 months) and long-term (6 years) changes in children’s coping processes in a sample of 240 youth aged 9–12 years when assessed initially. Data were from a randomized, experimental trial of a parenting-focused preventive intervention designed to improve children’s postdivorce adjustment. Three-wave prospective mediational analyses revealed that intervention-induced improvements in relationship quality led to increases in coping efficacy at 6 months and to increases in coping efficacy and active coping at 6 years. Tests of the mediated effects were significant for all 3 indirect paths. Results are discussed in terms of pathways to adaptive coping and implications for the implementation of preventive interventions targeting coping.