Parental marital discord affects quality of offspring marriages

November 26, 2001

University Park, Pa. -- Parents who are jealous, moody, inclined to fly off the handle, critical and prone to dominate their spouse have a far worse effect on their children's marriage than does parental divorce or poor parent-child relations, according to a Penn State study.

"The dark side of their parents' marriages, not their marital harmony, impacts all aspects of offspring's marriages, including the degree of matrimonial happiness or conflict, thinking about divorce or shared activities such as eating main meals and working on projects around the house," says Dr. Alan Booth, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Human Development.

"In short, the transmission of marital conflict from one generation to the next results when children learn poor interpersonal behaviors from observing how their parents treat each other," says co-researcher Dr. Paul R. Amato, professor of sociology.

Parental divorce by itself does not substantially mar the matrimonial happiness of children. Neither is the children's marital quality necessarily lessened by poor relationships with their parents during adolescence; psychological distress resulting from parental discord; or deficits in their parents' socio-economic status and their levels of education.

Booth and Amato published their conclusions in the paper, "The Legacy of Parents' Marital Discord: Consequences for Children's Marital Quality," in the October issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Their data were based on a longitudinal study of marital quality begun 21 years ago. Booth and Amato analyzed a sample of 297 parents, comparing the quality of their marriages in 1980 with that of their children in 1997.
-end-


Penn State

Related Marriage Articles from Brightsurf:

Survey reveals popular misconceptions about child marriage
Misconceptions about child marriage (marriage under 18) appear widespread among the American public, potentially hampering efforts to address the practice globally.

Do unmarried women face shortages of partners in the US marriage market?
One explanation for declines in marriage is a shortage of economically-attractive men for unmarried women to marry.

Could marriage stave off dementia?
Dementia and marital status could be linked, according to a new Michigan State University study that found married people are less likely to experience dementia as they age.

Happy in marriage? Genetics may play a role
People fall in love for many reasons -- similar interests, physical attraction, and shared values among them.

Your genes could impact the quality of your marriage
The quality of your marriage could be affected by your genes, according to new research conducted at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Ideal marriage partners drive Waorani warriors to war
In a new study, a team of researchers examined the social composition of raiding parties and their relationship to marriage alliances in an Amazonian tribal society, the Waorani of Ecuador.

Is student debt keeping Americans away from marriage?
Having a student loan could influence whether America's young adults first union after college is marriage or cohabitation.

Recent trends of marriage in Iran
Data about marriages in Iran points to the declining number of formal (arranged) marriages in recent decades despite strong cultural and religious traditions favoring such marriages.

Marriage name game: What kind of guy would take his wife's last name?
The study looked at whether a man's level of education -- both his own and relative to his wife's -- influences the likelihood that he chooses a nontraditional surname in marriage.

Get a grip: What your hand strength says about your marriage prospects and mortality
Researchers found men with a stronger grip were more likely to be married than men with weaker grips.

Read More: Marriage News and Marriage Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.