Parents in Utah may be interested in a recent study regarding parent-child relationships after divorce. Researchers looked at the responses from 7,335 survey participants — their average age was 24 — and determined that if parents divorce before their children are 5 years old, the kids when they grow up, are more likely to feel their relationship with their parents is insecure. People who were older than 5 years old at the time of the divorce reported having a more secure relationship with their parents.
Of the survey participants, about a third had parents who were divorced, and the average age of the kids when the parents split was 9 years old.
Security, in this case, was defined as being able to feel that the parent was psychologically available to the adult child and that the adult child could trust and depend on the parent.
Interestingly, the participants with divorced parents reported having greater feelings of insecurity with their fathers than with their mothers. This may be attributable in large part to the fact that, more often than not, mothers are given primary custody of the children after a divorce. This aspect of the study suggests a couple of things:
- The parent who spends the most time with a child is, in most cases, the parent whose relationship with the child will be the most secure down the road.
- And it is important for fathers to make concerted efforts to remain involved in their children’s lives, even if the mother has primary custody.
An author of the study also stressed that “the consequences of parental divorce are selective.“ For instance, adults whose parents had divorced did not appear to have experienced negative divorce-related effects in their own romantic relationships. And, of course, each family is different. In many cases, divorce is most certainly a better choice than staying together, especially if the parents’ marital relationship is a detriment to their children.
In these situations, the key to protecting the kids’ best interests is to create a workable child custody plan. To learn more about family law in Utah, please visit our child custody and visitation site. Divorce in Early Childhood May Harm Adult Ties.