A new study conducted at the University of Wisconsin has found that fathers who divorce and remarry have weaker relationships with their children than fathers who stay married to the children’s mother. While past divorce studies have determined that divorced dads have more difficulty keeping a bond with their children, this is the first study to focus on dads who remarry after divorce.
The study, which appears in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, examined 5,000 adult children participating in the ongoing Health and Retirement study. The Health and Retirement Study, which has followed several generations in America, contains a huge and detailed amount of information about families and relationships. The researchers focused on fathers who divorced and remarried and who had one or more children over the age of 18 from their previous marriage.
The researchers found that dads who remarried after a divorce had significantly less contact with their children, especially if they had children with their new wife or if their new wife had children from a previous marriage. The study focused on two aspects of the father-child relationship: social contact and financial assistance. Not only were remarried fathers less likely to speak with and write to their children after a divorce, they were also less likely to give them money than fathers who did not remarry.
What can we learn from this study? Fathers who are divorcing and fathers who are considering a new marriage may be able to keep stronger and better relationships with their children if they know that remarriage can harm relationships with children from a previous marriage.
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