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New study shows divorce affects younger children most

Colorado parents who've been through the process know that divorce is tough on kids. Now a new study shows that the effects, in terms of damage to the bond between parent and child, is most severe for young children. But the good news is that even if these kids carry lingering ill feelings towards their parents into adulthood, those feelings don't have an adverse effect on the kids' own romantic relationships.

The study was conducted by two psychologists at the University of Illinois who were exploring the way children formed attachments to their parents. Previous studies showed that children with a secure attachment to their parents did better later in life. Other research confirmed the conclusion that divorce has lasting consequences for children emotionally.

The new study concludes that children of divorced parents had more anxiety around their parents, although it is worth noting that the effect was determined to be slight. The most interesting findings were that the younger the child at the time of the divorce, the more serious the effect on parent-child attachment; and that children of divorce had a stronger attachment to the parent they lived with after the divorce.

Colorado parents struggling with child custody and visitation rights issues may want to keep these findings in mind. In determining what is in the best interests of the child, couples should consider the age of the child and the importance of parental attachment to the child's emotional health. If joint custody is not a realistic goal, couples should at least seek to encourage visitation - known in Colorado as parenting time - with the noncustodial parent.

Source: LiveScience.com, "Divorce Hits Youngest Kids the Hardest, Study Finds," Tia Ghose, July 2, 2013