Divorce affects father-child relationship: study

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Washington, Jan 12 (UNI) Adolescents whose parents are divorced become closer to their mothers, research says.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, 'parental divorce' creates an immense pressure on teens to decrease father-child closeness, supplemented by the many barriers created by a father's physical separation from the children.

''Historically, teens distance themselves from parents and increase involvement with peers,'' said co-author Dr Alan Booth, distinguished professor of sociology, human development and demography at Penn State.

''Coupled with divorce, this distancing may result in further declines in father-child closeness,'' Science Daily quoted him as saying.

Although research demonstrates that fathers' involvement with children has increased in recent decades, mothers continue to do the majority of childcare while fathers are the less involved parent.

Fathers, who often are the less involved parent before divorce, 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, the study explained.

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

The team comprising Mindy Scott of Child Trends and Booth, Valarie King and David Johnson, all faculty at Penn State, conducted the study.

''71 per cent of youth reported being very close to their mothers prior to divorce, while 57 per cent reported being very close to their fathers,'' the researchers said.

The teens' withdrawal from fathers was much more severe among those with divorced parents (56 per cent) than among those with non-divorced parents (28 per cent), they added.

The proportion of youth who reported a consistently close relationship with their father was much higher among those with still-married parents (48 per cent) than among those with divorced parents (25 per cent), the report informed, adding that 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 perceptions of their own qualities and abilities,'' Dr Booth noted.

''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,'' he added.


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