Date of Conferral
Divorce rates have consistently risen over the past several decades along with the subsequent increase in parental alienation occurring after the breakup of the family. Parental alienation has long-term negative effects on children who have experienced it, including mental health issues, increased risk of substance abuse, lower levels of self-sufficiency, and decreased physical health. The purpose of this quantitative, nonexperimental study was to determine whether alienation from a parent during childhood impacts the quality of adult romantic and marital relationships of the children when they become adults. The Bowen family systems theory and theory of attachment were used as the framework for the study. A convenience sample included 170 adult participants over the age of 18 who were either married or involved in a dating relationship who had parents that divorced during their childhood between the individual's birth and the age of 14. The results from multiple regression analyses indicated that alienation from father was a significant predictor of marital or dating relationship quality, and alienation from mother was a significant predictor of relationship happiness, satisfaction, and quality. As alienation from father or mother scores increased, the criterion variable scores decreased. Anxious attachment was also a significant predictor of relationship satisfaction as higher scores on anxious attachment resulted in lower relationship satisfaction scores. These findings have positive social change implications as practitioners may use the results to help individuals better understand their relationships and identify the negative lasting effects of parental alienation in adult relationships.