The Effect of Later Life Parental Divorce on Adult-Child/Older-Parent Solidarity: A Test of the Buffering Hypothesis1


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    This article is based on the first author's dissertation research completed at the University of Oklahoma-Norman. The authors thank William R. Lovallo for his comments on an earlier draft of this article. The first author is indebted to Anny Su for her encouragement and unconditional support during this project.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Paul A. Nakonezny, Department of Health Promotion, University of North Texas, P.O. Box 311337, Denton, TX 76203-1337. E-mail:


The present study examined the effect of later life parental divorce on solidarity in the relationship between the adult child and older parent. This examination was achieved by testing the buffering hypothesis. A cross-sectional quasiexperimental pre-post treatment design was used (Cook & Campbell, 1979), with retrospective pretests and data from 100 adult-child/older-parent dyads. The ANOVA results show that the mother/adult-child relationship with a higher degree of predivorce solidarity responded to later life parental divorce with less disruption of affectional solidarity and associational solidarity than those with a lower degree of predivorce solidarity. Thus, the current research provides modest evidence (for the mother/adult-child relationship) to support the buffering hypothesis. We found no evidence of a buffering effect for the father-child relationship.