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Post divorce: Patterns and perceptions within sibling relationships and future intimate relationships

Cottam, Samantha (2012) Post divorce: Patterns and perceptions within sibling relationships and future intimate relationships. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)


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The harmful effects of divorce, regarding children’s formations of relationships have always been a concern amongst psychologists. The consequences of both sibling and future relationships have been examined in this investigation. John Bowlby’s (1969) Attachment theory was focused on in this study; this proposed that once an attachment bond becomes broken, the development of future attachments in relationships may be problematic. Eight participants from the North West of England were administered an interview similar to Mary Main’s (1985) Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), in order to determine the effects of a broken parental attachment. Findings showed siblings became increasingly dependent on each other, buffering the negative effects of a divorce through forming closer sibling bonds. Children of divorce appeared to replace the absent parents role in the household by exhibiting ‘protective’ maternal behaviour toward siblings. Regarding children of divorces hypothetical future intimate relationships, individuals felt a strong need to avoid repeating their parent’s patterns of mistakes. This left individuals to be cautious and avoid proximity in their own relationships, a pessimistic attitude was developed as individuals were found to be reluctant to commit. Possible positive and negative effects on relationships following a parental divorce are discussed.

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