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Attitudes toward Parental Disclosures to Children and Adolescents by Divorced and Married Parents
Family Relations (2017)
  • Youngjin Kang, University of Illinois
  • Lawrence Ganong, University of Missouri
  • Ashton Chapman, Iowa State University
  • Marilyn Coleman, University of Missouri
  • Kwangman Ko, University of Missouri
Objective To examine individuals' attitudes about parental disclosures to children. Background Parents' disclosures can either help or hinder children's coping with family‐related stressors. Knowing what is appropriate to disclose, however, is not always clear. Method We examined judgments about parental disclosures using a mixed‐methods approach. In 18 factorial vignettes, information about a parent's marital status and gender and a child's age and gender were randomly varied; a convenience sample of 561 individuals evaluated the appropriateness of parental disclosures. An open‐ended question asked respondents to explain their answers. Results Quantitative data indicated that children's ages and parents' gender affected attitudes about disclosures, but parents' marital status and children's gender did not. Qualitative responses indicated that participants were concerned about parental disclosures putting children in the middle of parents' problems. Disclosures about sexual issues were considered inappropriate for school‐aged children but appropriate for adolescents. Conclusion There is consensus on evaluations of the appropriateness of specific parental disclosures. Negative disclosures are perceived as potentially harmful to offspring regardless of parents' marital status. Some topics are seen as more acceptable to disclose to adolescents than to younger children, and evaluations of specific disclosures differ for fathers and mothers. Implications A better understanding of how people evaluate parental disclosures may be useful to family therapists, parent educators, and others who work with families.
  • divorced parents,
  • married parents
Publication Date
November, 2017
Citation Information
Youngjin Kang, Lawrence Ganong, Ashton Chapman, Marilyn Coleman, et al.. "Attitudes toward Parental Disclosures to Children and Adolescents by Divorced and Married Parents" Family Relations Vol. 66 (2017) p. 839 - 853 ISSN: 1741-3729
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