Parent-Child Bond Affected by Age of Child at Time of Divorce

A recent study of parent-child relationships may interest Texas parents who are in the process of deciding child custody arrangements. In a survey of 7,335 adults, one-third of whom reported having parents who were divorced, researchers found that the age of the child during the divorce had an effect on the long-term parent-child bond.

The average age of the respondents was 24, and those who were under age 5 when their parents divorced tended to have shakier relationships with their parents. This group was contrasted with the participants who were older than 5 years when their parents split. The parent-child bond for those respondents tended to be closer.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers defined the sense of security for the adult child as being able to trust and depend on the parent, who in turn would have to be psychologically available to the adult child.

The bond between children and fathers tended to be less secure than the mother-child bond, according to the study. To explain this, one of the researchers said that children usually developed a closer relationship with the parent who had primary custody. This suggests, he said, that the sheer fact of spending more time with a child may have led to the closer bond between adult children and their mothers, since mothers are more often given primary custody.

Of course, every family has its own dynamics, and it is not a foregone conclusion that divorce will lead to a less secure parent-child relationship in the long run. Texas parents who want protect their parental rights and the well-being of their kids should look into every option for establishing a workable and balanced parenting plan.

Source:, “Divorce in Early Childhood May Harm Adult Ties,” Kathleen Doherty, July 16, 2013

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