Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Erin Sahlstein Parcell

Committee Members

Sarah Riforgiate, Lynn H. Turner, Leslie J. Harris


CTR, divorce, emerging adults, single parent households, the communication theory of resilience


This study explored the communicative resilience (CR) processes of emerging adults from divorced single parent households (DSPHs). Twenty-two emerging adults who experienced the divorce of their parents and subsequently grew up in DSPHs participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews. Using the communication theory of resilience (CTR) as a framework and through a reflexive thematic analysis of participants’ narratives, several of the CTR processes were identified, in retrospective and current accounts. Past CR processes include foregrounding (un)productive action while acknowledging unmet needs through adultification and embracing new freedoms, crafting normalcy around previous and new rituals and traditions, using and maintaining communication networks of siblings and extended family, and critiquing and resisting parental (mis)behavior and DSPH stigma. Current CR processes include foregrounding productive action while legitimizing (past) negative feelings (primarily with their single parent), crafting normalcy around holidays and unique new rituals, exercising the alternative logic of gratitude for the divorce, critiquing and resisting past parental behavior perceived as damaging, and using new and established networks of friends and romantic partners. Theoretical contributions include how emerging adults and their families used adultification as CR in the past, which has become the reason for the CR they are enacting currently with their friends, families, and romantic partners. Practical applications related to college student services and emerging adults’ relationships with their single parent are also discussed.

Available for download on Thursday, August 28, 2025

Included in

Communication Commons