Parental authority in divorced families

Lazar Amnon, Joseph Guttmann, Liat Abas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work examines the possible differences between divorced mothers and mothers of intact families in their inclinations to exert parental authority, and the possible relationship between the degree of parental authority and children's personal and social adjustment. For the purposes of the study, we developed the Haifa Parental Authority Questionnaire, which is a situation-depicted test based on a conceptual analysis of the construct of authority. The participants were 88 mother-child dyads, 56 from single (divorced) families and 32 from two-parent families. The results show that married mothers are more disposed than are divorced mothers to use their authority. Although adding family status and parental authority scores to the regression analysis yielded insignificant models for the two children's adjustment variables, the interaction between the variables was found to be significant. In the divorced family the more authoritarian the mother is, the worse is the child's personal adjustment, whereas in the intact family the more authoritarian the mother is, the better is the child's social adjustment. The results are discussed in the wider context of the mother-child relationship, the breakdown of the family's hier-archical structure following divorce, and the relationship of these factors with the exertion of parental authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-368
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Divorce and Remarriage
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009


  • Divorced families
  • Parental authority

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Law


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