Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



The loss of a parent is a difficult and potentially very upsetting event for a child. Along with the loss of parental contact and the emotional toll, the death, divorce, abandonment, or imprisonment of a parent can also disrupt many on-going facets of a child’s life, including school, social relationships, athletics, and other interests. Despite the potentially devastating nature of parental loss, relatively little is known about the frequency of parental loss or the consequences of this loss. This study examined the prevalence of parental loss and the consequences experienced in both the short and long term. Two separate interview protocols were used in this study. The first, a brief screening interview to identify individuals who lost contact with a parent during the school years (ages 5-17). The second interview was developed as a more detailed follow-up interview for those individuals who reported having lost a parent between the ages of 5 and 17 years. The survey inquired about six domains including demographic information, consequences of the loss, time window necessary to return to normal functioning, common supports provided to the children leading up to the loss, and supports following the loss of a parent. The prevalence rate assessed by the initial survey showed 12.9% of the participants experienced parental loss between 5-18 years of age. The results show that parental loss is associated with emotional, academic, social and family dynamic consequences. Predictors were determined for the consequences of parental loss and are discussed further in the document. The duration of the consequences can last up to several years following the loss of parental contact.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

George H. Noell



Included in

Psychology Commons