Child-parent relationships affected by early divorce

Father and childA divorce in early childhood could have a permanent effect on parent-child relationships, a study has suggested.

Early divorce affects children’s relationships with their parents both during childhood and after they grow up, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign claimed.

Analysing the data from two online surveys, they concluded that people whose parents divorced during their childhoods were more likely to see their relationships with their parents as unreliable. And people whose parents had divorced by their 5th birthdays were also more likely than others to see their later relationships with their parents as insecure, Medical News Today reports, when compared to people whose parents divorced after their childhoods.

Researcher Chris Fraley said:

“A person who has a secure relationship with a parent is more likely than someone who is insecure to feel that they can trust the parent. Such a person is more comfortable depending on the parent and is confident that the parent will be psychologically available when needed.”

More than seventy per cent of respondents had lived with their mothers after divorce and were more likely to have a distant relationship with their fathers as a result. The researchers also found a link between childhood experiences of divorce and insecurity in adult romantic relationships.

Fraley said:

“People’s relationships with their parents and romantic partners play important roles in their lives. This research brings us one step closer to understanding why it is that some people have relatively secure relationships with close others whereas others have more difficulty opening up to and depending on important people in their lives.”

The study was published in the latest issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Photo by absolut xman via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

View more from this author

2 comments

Lukey - July 1, 2013 at 11:43pm

After reading this I do think I will seek a Government grant for the following research:

“Is there evidence to back the belief that bears s**t in the woods”.

Paul - July 2, 2013 at 8:37am

If this research is interpreted correctly, it further stresses the necessity of separating couple each having adequate time with their young children to establish and build their own relationships. The paternal relationship is particularly vulnerable which is why courts must act fast and early to break a pre-existing pattern of mother-dominant childcare so as to enable dad to bond properly with his children. Mothers sense this this vulnerability and seek to keep dad at arm’s length for as long as possible. Regrettably, people can’t see past their noses.

Leave a comment