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A Parental Perspective: The Role of Companion Animals for Children During Separation and Divorce

By Jessica Michel

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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.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2008
Pages 64
Publisher Edith Cowan University
Location of Publication Joondalup, Western Australia
Department Computing, Health and Science
Degree Psychology
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal roles
  4. Children
  5. Divorce
  6. Health
  7. parental separation
  8. Pet ownership
  9. Pets and companion animals
  10. risk factors
  11. separation
  12. Social Environments
  13. social support
  14. Stress