Parental divorce may widen distance between teens, dads

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Washington, Jan 10 : If you aren't close to your father, your relationship with him will be further affected if your parents divorce, says a new study.

However, your ties with your mother won't be affected.

The study, conducted by Dr. Alan Booth, distinguished professor of sociology, human development and demography at Penn State and team, based its finding on a sub-sample of youth, drawn from a nationally representative sample.

The volunteers were interviewed at the beginning and the end of a five-year period. Reports from youth whose parents remained married were compared with reports from youth whose parents were divorced by end of the period.

Prior to divorce, 71 percent of youth reported being very close to their mothers, while 57 percent reported being very close to their fathers.

The teens' withdrawal from fathers was much more severe among those youths with divorced parents than among those with non-divorced parents, the study stated.

The proportion of youths who reported a consistently close relationship with their father was much higher among those with still-married parents than among those with divorced parents.

There was no significant difference in the change in closeness to mothers reported by youths in either group.

"Those teens who maintained a close relationship with their father had a stronger mother-child bond and a greater sense of well-being, defined as feelings about relationship qualities and perception's of their own qualities and abilities," Booth said.

"Historically, teens distance themselves from parents and increase involvement with peers. Coupled with divorce, this distancing may result in further declines in father-child closeness," he added.

Parental divorce creates an immense pressure to decrease father-child closeness, supplemented by the many barriers created by a father's physical separation from the children.

According to the study, dads often are the less involved parent before divorce, therefore would have to increase their investment in the relationship just to maintain pre-divorce levels of closeness, which the vast majority of fathers do not do.

"Therefore, fathers are at a disadvantage in closeness to start, and then divorce makes it even more challenging to be close," the researchers said.

Booth added: "Future research may look at information directly from the fathers about their evaluation of father-child closeness and his views of opportunities and constraints affecting before and after-divorce closeness with their children."

The study is published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

ANI

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