Widowed families with children

Personal need and societal response


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Content type
Research report

May 1984

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In Australia in 1981, of the dependent children who spent at least part of their lives in one parent families, over 14 per cent were living in families made one-parent by death. This paper focuses on the impact of death of a parent on children and their response to growing up in a one parent family. Data are derived from a 1980 Melbourne survey of 374 widowed and remarried men and women with at least one child under the age of 18. Focuses on the surviving parent's reports on the children's reactions, problems or concerns that the parents have with the children, and the role of children in relationship to the widowed parent's future life. Summarises the implications of the data for social policy and social service provision for families made sole- parent by death.


  • Introduction
  • Prior research on bereaved children
  • Methodology
  • Children's adjustment within the bereaved family
  • Difficulties faced by widowed parents with children
  • Children of widowed and divorced families compared
  • Implications for policy and services
  • List of references

Rosenman, L., Shulman, A.D., & Leving, M., (1983). Widowed families with children: Personal need and societal response (Working Paper No. 7). Melbourne: Institute of Family Studies.