In Germany, an increasing number of children live with one parent alone and have to cope with the separation or divorce of their parents. Emotional drawbacks have frequently been hypothesized for these children. Thus, we studied if such experiences are reflected in speech behavior. Twenty-eight 10- to 13-year-old boys from separated parents (physical separation of the parents was 2 years before the investigation) were compared with 26 boys from parents living together in an interview focusing on attachment-related themes and everyday situations. The interviews were analyzed with regard to coherence of speech, coping with emotional problems, reflectivity, child representation of both parents, and verbal and nonverbal expression of feelings. Boys from separated parents had incoherent speech, difficulties in coping with emotional problems, a poorer reflectivity (thinking about their own mental states and those of others), they represented neither parent supportively and did not show their feelings openly. These results can be traced back to an insecure attachment representation of the boys with separated parents.

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