Does Divorce Run in Families?

Boy with ripped photo of parents

In a recent article, Rachel Keith, an education graduate student from the University of Kansas, concluded that divorce is not hereditary. In the article, published in the University Daily Kansan, Keith writes about how some children of divorced parents are gun-shy about getting married. Even though these adult children may not be consciously aware of how their parents’ split affects them, they may have unconscious reservations about walking down the aisle. Keith mentions that her boyfriend’s mother and her own, both divorcees, each recently got married for the second time. Keith writes that, like many people, her boyfriend did not have overt resentment about the divorce and was willing to give marriage a try. But she held on to tension and felt skeptical about marriage, as do many people whose parents divorced.

Psychologists Jeffrey Zimmerman and Elizabeth S. Thayer are co-authors of a book devoted to this topic. They explain that many children who experienced their parents’ divorce may have biased views of intimacy, commitment, and relationships in general. Because they were unable to control their parents’ marriage, they may feel an unrealistic need to control their own destiny, thus sabotaging their marriage before it takes place.

These childhood experiences can create permanent conceptions or temporary judgments. Regardless of the how they are perceived, Keith stresses that adult children of divorce should not be viewed as damaged or non-marriage material simply because their parents divorced. “Their parents’ relationship is broken,” Keith writes. “They aren’t.” In fact, many of these adults have learned what not to do and have benefited from the mistakes of their parents. The success of any intimate relationship between two partners is not based solely on events of the past, but also on how each partner responds to those events in the present.

Reference:
Keith, Rachel. Divorce is not hereditary. (n.d.): n. pag. University Daily Kansan. 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. http://kansan.com/opinion/2012/09/24/keith-divorce-is-not-hereditary/

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  • Larissa

    Larissa

    October 5th, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    It kind of is hereditary when this is the only pattern for marriage that you have been exposed to.

    Think about it like this: what if the only way you ever saw your parents resolve conflict was through some serious arguing. Then how do you think that this is ever going to be resolved in their relationships? But the only way they know how to solve anything is through arguing. And what if that doesn’t work? Then they will take the next step to divorce, just like the parents likely did. What other way to resolution have they ever known?

    So while it may not run in the blood so to speak, if this is the experience that they have been given, how are they ever going to know how to do anything differently?

  • jayden

    jayden

    October 5th, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    well theres no written rule to this..the divorce of parents could scare certain ppl off from marriage n some others cud take that up as a challenge and vow to never let their own relationship end in a divorce,to work on their marriage to erase even the possibility of divorce…its a sum of many many different things and parental divorce can push one either way,but only subtly.

  • seven

    seven

    October 6th, 2012 at 6:18 AM

    Everyone takes away something different when they have been a part of a divorced family. It foes not have to mean that they are screwed up forever.

  • Sandra

    Sandra

    October 6th, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Well, as a parent who is divorced, doesn’t this make me feel just great about how I have possibly set my own sons to fail at their future marriages because of the choices I have made about my own?

  • ambrose

    ambrose

    October 8th, 2012 at 4:10 AM

    run in the family?maybe.well not as in genetics or inherited but as in terms of observing and influence that a young mind can take.I think there are chances that divorce does run in family.

  • meredith

    meredith

    October 8th, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    I definitely think that if you have grown up in a divorced family then there is a greater likelihood that your own marriage could end in divorce. If this is what you have viewed as the norm then it will not be such a stretch to do this in your own life. I think that for people who have not lived through a divorce, then maybe it would be a little harder to go down that road. I could be totally wrong, but I just think that if you are from a family where this happens time and again then there could eb a larger chance that your own marriage could end like that.

  • Rosalyn g

    Rosalyn g

    October 8th, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Come on now, we know better than this. Have we no ability to over come the demons of the past? I know that I do, and I would hope that others could make better and more educated decisions than maybe their parents did. You don’t have to be destined to fail just because a parental relationship did. You just have to do a better job of maybe knowing what you are seraching for in a partner than mom and dad did.

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