Mother-to-Daughter Disclosure after Divorce: Are There Costs and Benefits?

Susan Silverberg Koerner, Sara Wallace, Stephanie Jacobs Lehman, Meghan Raymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To investigate the association between post-divorce mother-to-daughter disclosure regarding sensitive topics and adolescent daughters' adjustment and closeness to mother, we collected data from 62 adolescent girls within the first two years after their mother's divorce. Analyses revealed that most mothers in the current sample have disclosed to their daughters to some degree about the five sensitive topic areas studied. In accordance with structural family systems theory, we found that detailed mother-to-daughter disclosures regarding financial concerns, negativity toward ex-husband, job up s-and-downs, and personal concerns were clearly associated with greater daughter psychological distress, but not with greater feelings of mother-daughter closeness, as existing retrospective research would have predicted. Daughters' worrying about their mothers explained (mediated) the link between maternal disclosure and daughter's distress to some extent. We discuss methodological issues as well as the valuable contributions that future, more contextualized research could make to understanding the conditions under which detailed mother-to-adolescent disclosure may be more or less risky.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-483
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Boundaries
  • Disclosure
  • Divorce
  • Family systems theory
  • Mother-adolescent relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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