New research has found parental separation has a considerable impact on children's routines and makes it difficult to sustain a relationship with the non-resident parent.

Lengthy interviews were conducted with 120 nine-year-olds for the national longitudinal study of children, Growing up in Ireland.

The 120 children were part of the larger group of 8,500 whose lives are being tracked.

The study found children with absent fathers reported sadness at not seeing them.

It also found children feel less close to parents who work long hours and are less available.

The study shows children's ambitions were to be healthy, to get a good job and to stay close to friends and family.

A majority of boys wanted to be professional sports players mainly in soccer, rugby or tennis, while most girls wanted to be professional performers, typically singers, dancers or actresses.

Children's legislation on 'a-list'

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald has said she hopes to publish the legislation to implement the Children First guidelines within weeks.

She said they were working on the heads of a Bill and it was on the 'a-list' for this Dáil term.

The Children First guidelines require mandatory reporting of any potential child abuse for organisations and professionals working with children.