Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Divorce in Early Childhood May Harm Adult Ties With Parents: Study

TUESDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- If parents divorce when their children are young, the split can affect how secure these children will feel about their relationship with their parents as adults, new research shows.

"The disruptive consequences of parental divorce on the security of parent-child relationships are more acute when parental divorce takes place early versus later in a child's life," said study author R. Chris Fraley, a professor of psychology at the university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Fraley analyzed data from 7,335 of men and women, average age 24, who participated in a survey about personality and close relationships online. More than one-third of the participants' parents had divorced.

On average, the children were aged 9 at the time of the divorce.

Men and women from divorced families were less likely to see their current relationship with their parents as secure. Those who parents divorced when they were under 5 were more insecure than those whose parents divorced when they were older.

When a person feels they have a secure relationship with a parent, Fraley said, they feel they can trust them and depend on them and that the parent will be available psychologically.

In the study, published online recently in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, feelings of insecurity were much greater for the adult children's relationships with their fathers.

The divorce did not have an substantial effect on the adult children's views of their romantic partners, Fraley found.

"This research suggests that the consequences of parental divorce are selective," he said, "Undermining the security that people have in their parental relationships more so than their romantic ones."

Fraley repeated the analysis with another group of 7,500 adults. These men and women, if their parents divorced, told which parent had primary custody. While 74 percent lived with mothers, 11 percent lived with their fathers. The rest lived with other caretakers.

Participants were most likely to have an insecure adult relationship with the parent they did not live with, Fraley found.

Fraley won't make recommendations based on the study. In the paper, however, he writes that ''something as basic as the amount of time that one spends with a parent or one's living arrangements can have the potential to shape the quality of the attachment relationship that one has with a parent."

The new results echo some found earlier by Jennifer Vendemia, an associate professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina. She was not involved with the latest study.

While the study new has strengths, she said one potential weakness is the questionnaire used, which is not yet well known in the field.

However, she said the take-home from the new study is that "Fathers need to make an effort to stay involved in a child's life."

Another expert said the new study shows divorce has long-term effects. "But at the same time, these effects are potentially limited -- that is, likely to be most influential on one's relationship with his or her parents," said Omri Gillath, an associate professor of social psychology at the University of Kansas.

While not minimizing the effect, he noted that the study found divorce does not seem to affect all relationships as an adult.

"It is also important to keep in mind that although divorce can have many negative consequences, sometimes staying together rather than getting a divorce is actually worse for the child."

His advice for divorcing parents? Be as civilized as possible, he said, acknowledging that can be difficult.

More information

To learn more about helping children whose parents are divorcing, visit the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

SOURCES: R. Chris Fraley, Ph.D., professor, psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jennifer Vendemia, Ph.D., associate professor, psychology, University of South Carolina, Columbia; Omri Gillath, Ph.D., associate professor, social psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence; June 28, 2013, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Reviewed Date: --

This content was reviewed by Mid-Atlantic Womens Care, PLC. Please visit their site to find an Mid-Atlantic Womens Care obstetrician.

Find a pediatrician
Helpful Information
Mid-Atlantic Womens's Care
Health Tips
Growing Up Short or Heavy Can Be Difficult
Helping Children Conquer Fear
Helping Kids Cope with a Divorce
How Old Is 'Old Enough' for Contacts?
How to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Kids' Health Concerns Ease with Age
Making the Most of Family Moments
What Kids Drink Is Important, Too
When Your Child Says, 'I'm Sick'
Diseases & Conditions
AIDS/HIV in Children
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma and Children
Asthma in Children Index
Bicycle, In-Line Skating, Skateboarding Safety--Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates
Bipolar Disorder in Children
Bone Marrow Transplantation in Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Diphtheria in Children
During an Asthma Attack
Ewing Sarcoma
Firearms
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Muscular Dystrophy
Myasthenia Gravis in Children
Osteosarcoma in Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Poliomyelitis (Polio) in Children
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries Overview
Television and Children
Thalassemia
The Growing Child: 1-Year-Olds
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Vision Overview
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.