October 10, 2017

Study: Divorce can be passed down genetically

As many Michigan parents know, studies have shown that children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves. A new study found that this is not due to modeling the behavior of parents as many previously believed, and is instead genetic.

As Science Daily reports, an analysis of the Swedish national registry found that adoptive children’s marriages were more likely to resemble the marriages of their biological parents, rather than the adoptive parents who raised them. This surprised researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Sweden’s Lund University, as prior studies have suggested that children are mimicking their parents’ behavior in their own relationships, which can include issues with commitment or difficulty handling conflict. Their findings flip the traditional script, and researchers believe that their study could help marriage counselors to focus not only on conflict and commitment but also look at other personality factors that may be passed down, and which have been shown to lead to divorce, such as neuroticism.

According to Health, the researchers warn against using the study as an absolute and note that considering it a risk-factor in a marriage is a more productive choice. In fact, the study did find evidence that the environmental factors a person was brought up in do still make a difference. Of 80,000 people who were raised by a biological mother and a step-father, while there was an association between the biological father’s divorce rate and those of his offspring, the mother’s marriage to the step-father was a bigger predictor of the marriage outcomes of the children.