Postdivorce Father-Adolescent Closeness


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Research indicates that closeness of the father-child bond following parental divorce is associated with better outcomes for children and adolescents. Unlike other investigations, this study takes a long-term developmental approach to understanding stability and change in postdivorce father-adolescent relationship closeness. Drawing on Add Health data (n = 483), we examine factors that explain (a) why some high-quality father-adolescent relationships remain the same after divorce whereas others decline, and (b) why some low-quality relationships are stable following divorce whereas others improve. High mother-offspring relationship quality and offspring feelings of well-being prevented close father-offspring relationships from deteriorating. Offspring’s childbearing and cohabitation following parental divorce increase closeness in father-offspring relationships that were not close prior to divorce. Although a majority of offspring experienced a decline in closeness following divorce, results from this study show that some very close father-offspring relationships are maintained and some poor relationships become closer.