Feelings of Guilt in the Family: The Case of Divorced Parents

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


Guilt is believed to be a common emotion in personal relationships. Few studies, however, have examined if guilt plays a role in the divorce process. The present chapter uses unique nationally representative survey data which included questions on the extent to which parents have feelings of guilt toward their (young or adult) children (N = 3,203). By comparing married and divorced parents while controlling for an elaborate set of control variables, we describe the effect of divorce on guilt. By testing a series of variables that may moderate the divorce effect, we subsequently try to explain why divorce affects guilt. Our findings show that there are significant effects of divorce on the feelings of guilt that parents have toward their children. These effects are stronger when parents have more traditional atti-tudes toward family issues, in line with moral explanations of guilt. The effects are also stronger when the relationship between the child and parent is stronger, in line with explanations of guilt in terms of altruism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDivorce in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationNew Insights in Trends, Causes and Consequences of Relation Break-ups
EditorsD. Mortelmans
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-25837-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameEuropean Studies of Population


  • divorce
  • well-being
  • children
  • intergenerational relations
  • guilt


Dive into the research topics of 'Feelings of Guilt in the Family: The Case of Divorced Parents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this