Parents' partnership decision making after divorce or widowhood: the role of the (step)children

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Using data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Surveys, this study investigated divorced and widowed parents' (N = 350) decision making about living arrangements after repartnering: Twenty-eight percent lived apart together (LAT) and others lived together (remarried or cohabiting). The focus was on determinants of LAT: Women, older respondents, residents of larger cities, and parents of 2 or more children are more apt to LAT. On the basis of additional qualitative interviews with LAT respondents (n = 25), the reasons for LAT were investigated. Data showed that many children are involved in pure boundary work in an effort to guarantee the continuation of their family. Other (step)children use the sabotage or refusal types of boundary work, not accepting the new partner or excluding a parent from contact, especially with grandchildren. Many of these efforts are successful. To preserve the ties with their children, parents often adapt their decision making about the living arrangements with a new partner accordingly. Keywords: divorce; intergenerational relationships; living apart together; repartnering; (step)children; widowhood
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1113
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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