Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family and Child Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Brad van Eeden-Moorefield

Committee Member

Lyndal Khaw

Committee Member

Sara Goldstein


Grounded in the intergenerational transmission of divorce theory, this qualitative phenomenological study explored how lived experiences of relational communication among female Adult Children of Divorce (ACOD) might reflect those of their parents who divorced during the adult child’s adolescence years. Ten in-depth Skype interviews were conducted with female ACOD at a large northeastern university. All participants shared negative communication behaviors that they perceived their parents used before the divorce. They described their experiences as “ugly and uncomfortable.” The findings suggested that ACOD’s exposure to conflict influenced the communication behaviors of their romantic relationships. Specifically, ACOD have had limited positive communication behaviors that could serve as models for their own romantic relationships. These findings support the need for research education programs aimed at adolescents to teach healthy communication skills at the start of their romantic relationship experiences.