Predictors of forgiveness among divorced parents

Journal of Family Psychology

Kluwer, E. S.,van der Wal, R. C., Visser, M., & Finkenauer, C.


Forgiveness is crucial for establishing coparenting relationships following divorce, yet little is known about the predictors of forgiveness after divorce. In 2 studies, we explore dispositional and divorce-specific factors that correlate with ex-partner forgiveness. In Study 1, we used data from a convenience sample of 136 divorced parents. In Study 2, we used a clinical sample of 165 parents involved in a complex (high-conflict) divorce, who were referred to treatment because of the threat their conflicts posed to their children’s well-being. Across samples, forgiveness was negatively associated with conflict severity, narcissistic entitlement, hostile attributions, and traumatic impact of the divorce, and positively with trust and acceptance of the divorce. The main predictors of forgiveness in both samples were more acceptance of the divorce and less narcissistic entitlement. Forgiveness was unrelated to dispositional self-control and trait anger in either sample. We found no evidence of cross-partner effects in Study 2, except for women’s hostile attributions on men’s forgiveness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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