Children of Massachusetts divorced parents are more likely to get divorced when compared to those who grew up in two-parent families and genetic factors are the primary explanation, according to a new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden.
Why does divorce run in families?
The study’s findings are notable because they diverge from the predominant narrative in divorce literature, which suggests that the offspring of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced themselves because they see their parents struggling to manage conflict or lacking the necessary commitment, and they grow up to internalize that behavior and replicate it in their own relationships.
Nearly all the prior literature emphasized that divorce was transmitted across generations psychologically. However these results contradict that, suggesting that genetic factors are more important.
By recognizing the role that genetics plays in the intergenerational transmission of divorce, therapists may be able to better identify more appropriate targets when helping distressed couples.
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, so, if a distressed couple shows up in a therapist’s office and finds, as part of learning about the partners’ family histories, that one partner comes from a divorced family, then the therapist may make boosting commitment or strengthening interpersonal skills a focus of their clinical efforts.
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