Divorce, passed on from parents to kids

Research has shown that children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce themselves. A new study in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology investigated some possible explanations for the transmission of divorce from one generation to the next. Sarah Whitton of the Boston University and her colleagues from the University of Denver surmised that children of divorced families would have less commitment to their relationships and less confidence that they can maintain a long-term relationship. To investigate this, the researchers surveyed 265 engaged couples who were about to be married for the first time.

The study indicated that for women, but not for men, parental divorce was associated with lower relationship commitment and lower confidence in the relationship. Although these differences were small, previous research has suggested that they may be predictive of later marital problems. Whitton and her colleagues supposed that women are socialized to be more attuned to relationships than men, and may therefore react more strongly to parental divorce. Also, because divorce generally has more negative consequences for women, especially in the financial realm, daughters of divorced parents may be more "conscious of the fragility of marriage."

The bottom line? If these findings are replicated in other studies, they suggest that women with divorced parents might want to examine their commitment to and confidence in their relationship, and might consider couples therapy to strengthen these factors.

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