More lately, research on divorce has approached the issue of the absent father from a diverse perspective, stressing the reorganization process that is an expected result of the family's structural change. In this framework, the departure of the father is seen as just one of a number of events to which the child should adjust.
Throughout the separation and divorce process and ongoing for at least a year after divorce, single mothers are often worried with their own depression, anger, or emotional needs and are incapable to respond perceptively to their children. Such dysfunctions in maternal regulation result in a lowered tolerance of the child's behavior, which openly impacts maternal perceptions of her child's adjustment.
Ross (1972) argued that parental discernments are a product of both the child's behavior and the parent's acceptance level. It appears credible that depression influences individual differences between parents in their acceptance for a variety of child behaviors. Clinical symptoms that co-vary with depression, such as distractibility and restlessness, may increase the possibility that single mothers will selectively attend to moderately low frequency inapt behavior, forming impressions of her children's alteration that are not acceptable by objective counts of behavior. Alternately, parental depression and distress may raise attention to moderately high frequency rebellious behaviors that were not interpreted as worrisome prior to the inception of personal distress. On a behavioral level, changes in perceptions might result in the inconsistent use of ineffective child-management strategies and dictatorial control (e.g., betacommands) at a time when parents seek to bound interactions with their children. The net consequence of such dynamics might be the expansion of what Patterson (1982) has termed coercive styles of family interactions.
One of the issues linking to emotional pattern of this kind of family breakdown is that of the divorce process, which shows the way to families living in single-parent households and eventually to remarriage of one, if not both, parents and the formation of stepfamilies. This process, now believed likely to occur to one marriage in every three, also consequences in one in five children experiencing the divorce of their parents and the succeeding remarriage of at least one of them (conceivably more than once) during childhood. The following emergence of binuclear families, it will be argued, could properly be described as rehabilitated extended families. These post-nuclear families, whose members are not all biologically linked to one another, and which form more or less a third of families in the United Kingdom, now take their place in society alongside the more conventional nuclear families.
The reasons for the rise in divorce are numerous. When legal aid permitted reasonable divorces and divorce laws were basic, desertion was no longer as necessary. Subsequent to World War II, Americans had a greater sense of impermanence. The security that marriage presented was no longer as attractive. Religion, a unified force in numerous families, began playing a less significant part in American life as attendance at services declined between 1958 and 1980 by almost twenty percent. The number of people who allied with any religion also declined