People in Maryland may have seen a recent article about a psychological study of children whose parents were divorced at an early age. The results are a mixed bag, but nonetheless show that the child custody arrangement after the divorce can have long-lasting implications for the bond between parent and child. The study underscores the importance of taking the child custody aspect of the divorce seriously.
The study showed that children whose parents were divorced at an early age had a higher likelihood of developing self-reliant coping mechanisms, which may translate to a more avoidant or anxious relationship with a parent. This could strain the parent-child relationship long after the divorce is over, even if the child doesn’t necessarily remember the divorce itself.
The research showed that the child may have a stronger bond with the primary custodial parent in most cases, which seems intuitive given that the child will end up spending more time with that parent on a daily basis. However, the research showed this impact to be relatively small, so parents who are considering a divorce shouldn’t panic. The most important thing a parent can do is remain a central part of their children’s lives, as the bond that is forged, especially early in the child’s life, is critical to how the child will later view and interact with the parent.
The non-residential parent shouldn’t worry too much if they have a joint custody arrangement that provides them with ample visitation and parenting time. Barring a compelling reason to the contrary, the court will generally find that time with each parent is in the best interests of the child, but parents should be aggressive in pursuit of a fair and balanced child custody arrangement that suits their needs as well as the needs of the children.
Source: Live Science, “Divorce Hits Youngest Kids the Hardest, Study Finds,” Tia Ghose, July 2, 2013