Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Elizabeth Kaczmarek

Second Advisor

Dr Dierdre Drake

Abstract

Children grow up in interdependent family systems, where transitions affect all members. A prevalent transition in Australian families is divorce. When divorce occurs children are exposed to significant risk factors that have the potential of affecting many developmental outcomes. However, certain protective factors may reduce the impact of life stressors and a pivotal protective factor is social support. Companion animals have been recognised as beneficial to adults and children alike for many years, however, recent research has highlighted the fact that pets may also serve as sources of social support. The current paper will review relevant literature to determine the benefit pets may have on children during parental separation and divorce. The review will end with a brief mention of current limitations and future areas of research. Divorce and separation are often painful transitions for all, especially for children who tend to be particularly affected. However, protective factors can lessen the negative impacts of divorce and separation on children. Pets have been found to be pivotal parts of children's lives, providing them with numerous benefits. Among the benefits, it has been suggested pets may aid during transitions such as divorce. Through a qualitative design, the role of pets in children's adjustment to divorce and separation as perceived by parents was researched. Eight mothers were interviewed and thematic analysis yielded results suggesting pets are beneficial to children and parents as they experience divorce and separation. It was concluded further research is required to fully comprehend the role of companion animals during divorce or separation.

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