Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Shelley L. K. Lindauer


Shelley L. K. Lindauer


Tom Lee


Sarah Rule


Young children's perceptions of their parents have been shown to affect responses to parents, and to be relevant in personality development and self-esteem. Typically, research examining children's perceptions of their parents focused on children from intact families. Yet, with the frequent occurrence of divorce in our society, and the trauma and lifestyle changes often associated with marital dissolution, it is possible that children's perceptions of their parents may also change.

This study compared two groups of preschool children's perceptions of their parents. Forty - two children (23 males, 19 females) came from two parent, first marriage families. Thirty-two children (16 males, 16 females) were from divorced single parent households.

Children were visited in their homes and asked to respond to nine questions in the areas of parental relationships, mother role, and father role. Children's responses were coded, using a 17-category coding scheme.

Factor analyses reflected children's perceptions of both traditional and nontraditional parental roles. The developmental level of the children and marital status of parents had the most influence on the children's perceptions of parental relationships. Children from the married sample viewed father's role in a more contemporary and diverse way in comparison to the single sample. Both samples (married and divorced) viewed mother in similar traditional roles. Results can be interpreted in the context of family lifestyles and symbolic interaction theory.