The earlier the parents divorce in a child's life, the more significant is the impact on relationships as the child matures, reveals a new study.
Those who experience parental divorce early tend to have more insecure relationships with parents as adults than those who experience divorce later, researchers say.
"By studying the variation in parental divorce, we are hoping to learn more about how early experiences predict the quality of people's close relationships later in life," Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said.
Psychologists are especially interested in childhood experiences as their impact can extend into adulthood, but studying such early experiences is challenging as people's memories of particular events vary widely, reports Science Daily.
Parental divorce is a good event to study, he says, as people can accurately report if and when their parents divorced, even if they do not have perfect recollection of the details.
In two studies published Monday in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Fraley and graduate student Marie Heffernan examined the timing and effects of divorce on both parental and romantic relationships, as well as differences in how divorce affects relationships with mothers versus fathers.