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The association between the structure of the family and the adjustment of the child has been well-researched and the results have served the basis for divorce literature for the past five decades. In 1957, Nye suggested that child adjustment is a crucial factor affecting the “sociopsychological success or failure of the family” rather than the mere structure of the family. He noted that adolescents growing in “broken” homes (i.e., those who did not reside with their biological parents) “less likely present symptoms of psychosomatic illness, manifestations of delinquency and are better adjusted to parents than the adolescents in unhappy unbroken homes, and concluded that society should re-assess and re-consider the traditional view of a broken home.

The idea that level of family unhappiness as perceived by children as a significant determinant of adjustment was investigated by Landis (1960, 1962), whose findings suggested that an unhappy marriage had more disturbing effects to children than divorce. In a research project involving college students belonging to divorced families, Landis (1960) found that of the number of students who remembered how their family looked like before the divorce, what their home life was like prior to divorce, those who perceived to be living in a happy household experienced a considerable degree of trauma than those those who saw their homes to have constant parental conflict. Utilizing the study of Nye and Landis, Raschke and Raschke (1979) did an investigation on the possible interactive effects of family structure and perceived family conflict on the self-concept of children. Their study concluded that no association exists between family structure and self-concept; rather, self-concept was apparently correlated with family conflict as perceived by the child.

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