Divorce is more and more common these days. While once it was considered taboo, the divorce revolution that started in the 1960s and hotted up in the ’70s sexual revolution years soon saw that change.
Statistics say the rate is currently around 50 per cent, in many countries.
But does your relationship status have an affect on what will happen to your kids?
According to a study by Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden, it does. The study shows that children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced, when compared to those who grew up in two-parent families. It even suggests there are genetic factors at play, not learned behaviour.
The study, based in Sweden, found people who were adopted resembled their biological, but not adoptive, parents and siblings in their histories of divorce.
“We were trying to answer the basic question: Why does divorce run in families?” said Jessica Salvatore, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU and first author of the study. “Across a series of designs using Swedish national registry data, we found consistent evidence that genetic factors primarily explained the intergenerational transmission of divorce.”
It’s different to the previous line of thought that says children of divorced couples replicated the behaviour of their parents.
“At present, the bulk of evidence on why divorce runs in families points to the idea that growing up with divorced parents weakens your commitment to and the interpersonal skills needed for marriage,” she said. She said that if a couple are undergoing marriage guidance therapy, and one or both are children of divorced parents, the therapist might then focus on strengthening interpersonal skills.
“However, these previous studies haven’t adequately controlled for or examined something else in addition to the environment that divorcing parents transmit to their children: genes,” she said. “And our study is, at present, the largest to do this. And what we find is strong, consistent evidence that genetic factors account for the intergenerational transmission of divorce. For this reason, focusing on increasing commitment or strengthening interpersonal skills may not be a particularly good use of time for a therapist working with a distressed couple.”
Does that mean, if you’ve been divorced, could you have passed on the divorce gene to your kids?