Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Kristen Beyer

Abstract

Parental divorce does not have the same effect on all children, and the cultural background of families may have an impact on children's experience of divorce. The purpose of this research was to investigate the lived experiences of Hispanic parents of school-aged children who are divorced or are going through the divorce process in order to examine how their children adjust to this family change. Crisis theory and critical race theory were used as theoretical frameworks, and a phenomenological approach was used to collect data from 13 parents through semi-structured interviews. Twenty-seven themes (six minor, five major, 14 subthemes, and two thematic categories) were generated that relate to the impact of divorce on Hispanic children and how cultural factors influence that impact. Protective themes included guidance from extended family and friends and a prolonged process of separation/divorce due to Hispanic values regarding marriage and family. Negative themes included undesirable changes in children's actions and behaviors such as wanting to be isolated or left alone and engagement of the children in problematic behaviors. The findings were similar to studies with non-Hispanic children in regard to the changes in behavior that were observed by parents. A recurring and primary theme was the support Hispanic children obtain from and the crucial role played by extended family after divorce. The findings of this study can be used to instigate positive social change by adding to the understanding of the experience of divorce for Hispanic children and encouraging care providers to emphasize the role of extended family as a support for these children.

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