The effects of father absence on child and family adjustment.
The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of father absence on child and family adjustment in relation to age, sex, maternal employment and education, family system and the degree of turbulence (i.e. the amount of conflict and physical abuse in the family). The sample consisted of 447 low SES Indian children (ranging in age from six to eighteen years) and 204 of their mothers from to intact, widowed and divorced families. The instruments used were: Child Behaviour Rating Scale (Cassel, 1962); Semantic Differential; Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1967); Personal, Home, Social and Formal Relations Questionnaire (HSRC, 1968); Family Environment Scale (Moos, 1986); Mother-Child Relationship Evaluation (Roth, 1961) and Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). The following significant results were obtained. Teachers' perceptions of adjustment were more positive for children from intact than father-absent families, for females than males, for children from secondary than primary schools, for children from nuclear than to extended family systems, for children whose mothers had secondary, compared to primary school education and for children who experienced low compared to high turbulence. Children from the divorced, compared to the intact and widowed groups, perceived their fathers more negatively, and their teachers more positively. Females from intact and divorced families perceived their families and schools more positively than males, while the reverse applied to the widowed group. Fathers from low, compared to high, turbulence families were perceived more positively. Adolescents from intact families indicated greater personal freedom than the divorced group. Those who experienced high, compared to low, turbulence had lower self-control, moral sense and personal freedom. Females from intact families were better adjusted on general sociability. This applied to males in both father-absent groups. Married, compared to single mothers had more positive perceptions of self, family and mother-child relationships. These differences also applied to working mothers, compared to housewives, for mothers with secondary, compared to primary, school education and for mothers who experienced low, compared to high, turbulence. The results were discussed with respect to their theoretical and practical implications for policy makers, mental health workers and educationists.