Structural boundaries of single-parent families and children’s adjustment

Michal Rosenberg, Joseph Guttmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study investigates the structural boundaries of the divorced single-parent family system and subsystems and the relationships between these and children's emotional, social, and academic functioning. The subjects were 189 children (95 of intact and 94 of divorced families) and their mothers (60 married and 58 divorced). Three tests were used to assess family boundaries: Boundary Ambiguity Scale (BAS), Kvebaek Family Sculpture Technique (KFST); and Family Drawing Test (FDT). California Test of Personality (CTP) was used to assess the children's levels of emotional and social adjustment. Their academic achievements were evaluated by the children's grades in English, Hebrew, and mathematics. The results show that the majority of children of divorced families and about half of their mothers still include their fathers in their family systems. The results also reveal that both these children and their mothers perceive their family subsystems as less hierarchically distinguished than do the corresponding groups from intact families. In addition, the findings show that neither the mothers' characteristics nor the subjects' perceptions of their family boundaries predict the emotional, social, and academic functioning of the children. These and the other results are discussed in relation to their implications for family system theory and the cybernetic model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-98
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Divorce and Remarriage
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • Children of divorce
  • Divorced family structure
  • Single-parent families

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Law


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