Journal Article

A French study of Children's Self‐Esteem after Parental Separation

Gerard Poussin and Elisabeth Martin‐Lebrun

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 16, issue 3, pages 313-326
Published in print December 2002 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online December 2002 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/16.3.313
A French study of Children's Self‐Esteem after Parental Separation

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We present the results of a study carried out during the school year 1995–1996, in France, in which 3098 children, aged from 11 to 13, were included. Each child filled in a questionnaire describing his or her family situation and then completed a psychological test of self‐esteem (in the presence of a physician from the school health service). We have examined possible relationships between the performances in the test of self‐esteem and the age of the child at the time of parental separation (before three years or after) as well as the possible influence of the regularity of his or her relationships with the father. This study shows, similar to previous studies in other countries that, on average, parental divorce has a small but significant impact on French children. Nevertheless self‐esteem is lower for children who had experienced parental separation in our French sample. Self‐esteem is, however, a complex issue in the development of the adult personality and we do not know how children with low self‐esteem may be affected in the future. Reflection by all professionals on behalf of children and adolescents is necessary in order to produce a suitable response to a pervasive phenomenon which affects fundamental values of our society.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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