Are Children of Divorced Parents Doomed to End Their Marriage?


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It was found if one spouse has divorced parents a marriage is twice as likely to end in divorce and if both spouses have divorced parents than the marriage is three times as likely to end in divorce. This is what Wolfinger, an assistant professor at the University of Utah's Department of Consumer and Family Studies, commonly refers to as the divorce cycle. The divorce cycle states that children from divorced households are more likely to get divorced later in life (this information can be found here).

 

The question is why is this? Well according to Wolfinger's research (based on the Survey of Families and Households that includes general background information on families from over 13,000 households) there are several possible explanations (this study can be found here). The first being that children that who come from divorced families are more likely to marry at a younger age and those who marry at a younger age are more likely to get divorced. The other more complete answer is that children who live in divorced families experience more up and down cycles and less stability in their life. Their marriage is then likely to mirror the experiences they've had as a child. Relationships that experience constant up and downs typically occur when partners cannot agree to work on the issues in their relationship, when the problems are ignored in a relationship ending the relationship (or divorce) is often seen as the best solution.

 

However, scientist Ming Cui, University of Florida, proposed that whether or not children are more likely to get divorced depends on their perception of their parents' divorce. Both the cognitive-developmental model and social learning theory suggest that children's likehood of divorce is not necessarily due to do whether or not their parents are divorced, but their perception of their parents' divorce. It was found that commitment to relationships was directly related to whether or not the relationship was viewed as expendable and something that could be terminated at any time. So children of divorced families could be more likely to get divorced if they enter their relationship with the attitude that if there is a problem they should simply end the relationship rather than trying to work out the problem (for more information click here).

 

As the child of divorced parents I've realized two important things: the success of my relationships is directly correlated to the amount of effort I put into that relationship and my parents divorce. However, I like to believe that the study the done at the University of Florida is more accurate, because I think that relationships are what you make them. While it is definitely true that children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced, I think your attitude towards relationships can change this. So what I've learned from these studies is that the best way to a happy and successful relationship (if you come from divorced parents) is to remember that you have to address problems and work them out with your spouse, not just end the relationship after the first argument.

5 Comments

This blog post was really interesting and it hits home for me. My parents divorced when I was seven so this post was really relatable. Although, it is really hard to hear this research: "The divorce cycle states that children from divorced households are more likely to get divorced later in life." I feel that due to the divorce I am extremely cautious on who I date and I the divorce had made me never want to have to marry more than one time. I would do everything in my power to not repeat what my parents did, even if it means marrying much later in life. I hope this cycle starts to change because divorce sucks for everyone! Here's an article I found on some of the effects of divorce on children that you may be interested in.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201112/the-impact-divorce-young-children-and-adolescents

I enjoyed this article and applaud your voice for kids of divorced parents. People often throw around the statistic that 1 in ever 2 marriages are ended in a divorce, but they tend to leave out and abandon the kids that also experience the split. I do not come from a divorced-parent family, however 1.5 million children a year go through this exact experience. Since I don't know much about the topic, and I can't really argue with anything you have to say, I found an article listing the top 5 mistakes divorced parents make. Maybe instead of people talking about how much divorced parents effect their kids' getting divorces, we should help aid and educate divorced parents on how to deal with the situation for the betterment of their children.

I enjoyed reading this blog because it was something I always questioned, myself. I always wondered if coming from a divorced family could affect the child's relationship statuses in the future. Like you stated in your blog, every website I go to says that children who come from divorced families are more likely to get divorced when they get older. This one article states that people coming from divorced families have a more difficult time with having a stable relationship. They experience difficulty creating and maintaining serious relationships. They also tend to be not as satisfied resulting in this slightly higher divorce rate. This article states that if they do end up getting a divorce they are more likely to have a bad relationship with their Ex compared to other people. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-divorce-bad-for-children&page=2

Hi Cara, I enjoyed reading your article! I have definitely heard of these patterns before and I agree that relationships are what you make out of it. With that being said, I was doing some research and found out that cheating husbands are more likely to have heart attacks. The correlation is probably due to many factors - the guilt, stress or new environment play a key role in the husbands health! So there are definitely other risks that are associated with divorced (or soon to be divorced) couples. You can read about it in more detail here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/cheating-study_n_1540465.html

Hi Cara! As like many others, this post hits home for me as well. I find it interesting every time this topic is brought up because so many different conclusions have been drawn. The only similarity being that divorce really does effect a child's future relationships. Each child is effected differently with divorce and people can throw out statistics but it's a hard topic to evaluate.

Here is a great article about not letting ourselves fall into the stigma that our marriages will be "doomed" too:
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/09/is-my-marriage-doomed-if-my-parents-got-divorced-when-i-was-a-kid/

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