Growing up faster? Post-divorce catalysts in the mother-adolescent relationship

Susan Silverberg Koerner, Den Yelle Baete Kenyon, Lela A. Rankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adding to the literature on post-divorce parent-adolescent relationships and applying the symbolic interactionist notion of reflective appraisal, we hypothesized that being called on by one's mother for emotional assistance and being exposed to maternal concerns/worries (sensitive maternal disclosures) would be related to adolescents' feeling older than their same-aged peers (high subjective age) and engaging in greater socializing/dating. We also examined whether those associations would be moderated by age. Questionnaire data were collected from 81 adolescents whose parents were divorced. Findings offer some support for our hypothesis. Mother-to-adolescent disclosures about financial and job concerns were associated with adolescents' high subjective age; and disclosure regarding personal concerns (e.g., things that make the mother sad) was associated with adolescents' greater social involvement/ dating. For younger adolescents,maternal negative disclosure about the ex-husband was associated with greater social involvement/dating. Further research is needed to determine why exposure to sensitive maternal disclosures seems to act as a catalyst for adolescents feeling older and being more socially active. Possible reasons are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-41
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Divorce and Remarriage
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 13 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Dating
  • Divorce
  • Maternal disclosure
  • Mothers
  • Social involvement
  • Subjective age
  • Symbolic interactionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Law


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