Children of divorce dating
As recently as 2004, Wallerstein asserted that divorce begets fewer marriages, poorer marriages, and more divorces—and that divorce is not an acute stress from which children recover, but a life-transforming experience.
While many scholars disagree with Wallerstein’s fatalistic assessment of young adults from divorced families, the fact remains that numerous empirical studies have found that those who experience a parental divorce are significantly more likely to divorce themselves.
So, if your parents are divorced, does that mean your marriage is doomed to fail?
On one hand, there is consistent evidence to indicate that it might be.
Parents are important, of course, but about three-quarters of the couples I interviewed discussed important and influential marriage models beyond their immediate families—including peers and peers’ parents—that they used to supplement their own learning about marriage, and develop the tools necessary to build what they saw as a successful marriage.
In cases of parental divorce, there may be other important factors to consider, including the child’s perceptions of the parents’ relationship (before and after the divorce), and how they are able to reconcile that experience (in other words, view it as a learning experience) before they enter into their own relationship.As a child of divorce growing up in the 1980s, I was acutely aware that my parents’ decision to end their marriage meant that I was doomed to suffer serious and lasting negative effects—including academic difficulties, behavioral problems, and psychological issues.This was the period following the rise in divorce rates in the U. (in the 1970s), and the “crisis perspective” of divorce was rapidly becoming part of our collective consciousness.For example, in a recent nationally representative on-line survey commissioned by the USA Network (embed link), most of the 18 to 49-year-olds surveyed reported that their relationship was not like their parents’—rating their relationship as a 3.5 out of 10 in similarity (on a scale where 1 is nothing like their parents’ relationship and 10 was exactly like it).
In many important ways, relationships and marriages are evolving and changing, which means that we might not be predetermined to the same outcomes as our parents.
Second, more specifically, those of us with divorced parents (or parents with poor quality marriages), are not likely to learn important relationship skills that we need to build successful marriages.