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Participation of divorced single parents and their children in outdoor activities to improve attitudes and relationships

Cindy Kriel
Cornelia M. Schreck
Francois Watson


Divorce is one of the most stressful events a child or adult might ever experience. Enhancing family functioning is a key intended outcome in designing family leisure programmes aimed at developing life-enhancing attitudes and relationships.  Nonetheless, the actual effects on families participating in such programmes, specifically single-parent families, have not yet been reported. Two divorced single-parent families headed by the mother with adolescent children participated in this small scale four-day adventure intervention programme including a high-ropes course, equine-assisted therapy, mountain-biking treasure hunt, hiking, abseiling and rock-climbing. Qualitative data collected from semi-structured one-on-one interviews, field notes and participant observation were analysed rendering two main themes, namely attitudes and relationships, each with its own set of subthemes: attitudes, comprising self-esteem and motivation; and relationships, comprising communication, problem solving, respect and trust. The leisure intervention  programme played a positive role in improving attitudes and the relationships between the divorced single-parent mothers and their children.

Key words: Leisure; Outdoor activities; Relationships; Attitude; Divorce; Single parenting; Adolescent children.