Children of Divorce Feel Distant from Parents as Adults

According to a new study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, young children with divorced parents grow into adults who are feel insecure about their relationship with those parents.


The study was authored by Chris Fraley, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  and analyzed data from 7,335 of men and women whose average current age is 24. The subjects participated in a survey about personality and close relationships online. More than one-third of the participants' parents had divorced when the subjects were T an average age of  9 years old.

The study concluded that those who parents divorced when they were underthe age of 5 were more insecure than those whose parents divorced when they were older.

"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 Dr. Fraley.

Fraley repeated the analysis with another group of 7,500 adults. This segment of the study examined the participants’ living arrangements as children after divorce and found that 74% of the subjects had lived with their mothers. When asked about their current relationship with their parents, subjects concluded that their relationships as adults with their fathers remained insecure. It seems that the parent who is not the primary caretaker suffers a distance relationship with his children even after they grow into adults.

The good news? The divorce did not have a substantial effect on the adult children's views of their romantic partners, meaning that children of divorce can grow into adults capable of healthy romantic relationships.

One researcher concluded that the take-home from this information is that, "Fathers need to make an effort to stay involved in a child's life."