A new study shows that people whose mothers had more couples, married or in coexistence, often follow the same path. The results suggest that mothers can transmit personality traits and relationship skills that make their children more or less likely to form stable relationships.
"Our results suggest that mothers may have certain characteristics that make them more or less desirable in the marriage market and better or worse in relationships," says the lead author of the paper, Claire Kamp Dush, associate professor of Human Sciences at the Ohio State University, United States.
"Children inherit and learn these skills and behaviors and can take them to their own relationships," adds this specialist, whose work is detailed in an article published on Tuesday in the magazine 'Plos One'. Although many investigations have found thatChildren from divorced couples are also more likely to divorce, this study expands the panorama, according to Kamp Dush.
"It's not just divorce now, many children see their parents divorce, they start new cohabitation relationships and they also have that ending," she says. "All these relationships can influence the results of children, as we see in this study," he adds.
The data came from the '1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Young People' (NLSY79) and from the 'National Longitudinal Survey of Young People, Children and Young Adults' (NLSY79 CYA, for its acronym in English). Both surveys have followed the same participants for at least 24 years.
All the people in the NSL79 CYA survey were biological children of women in the NLSY79, so the researchers were able to obtain a long-term view of the number of couples of people of both generations. The surveys included information not only about marriage and divorce, but also about relationships of cohabitation and ruptures.
The surveys are conducted by the Human Resources Research Center of the State of Ohio, United States. This work included 7,152 people in the NLSY79 CYA survey. According to the study, both the number of marriages and the number of couples cohabiting with mothers had similar effects on the number of couples their children had.
However, the results showed that the brothers exposed to the coexistence of their mothers during longer periods had more couples than their brothers exposed to a lesser cohabitation.to. "You can see cohabitation as an attractive and less engaging type of relationship if your mother has been in that relationship for longer," says Kamp Dush, "that can lead to more couples, as it is more likely that the relations of cohabitation are broken ".
Money problems do not influence when following the maternal trend
The study discussed three theories about why children tend to follow their mothers in terms of the number of relationships. One theory has been that many people break relationships due to the economic instability associated with the dissolution of divorce and coexistence; since the income of one of the couple is usually lost. The economic difficulty can lead to poorer outcomes for children and a more difficult transition to adulthood, leading to more unstable associations in adulthood, according to the theory.
Although economic instability was related to the number of couples a person had, the control of economic factors in the study did not significantly reduce the mother-child bond in the number of couples. This means that money problems probably were not the main reason why many people follow their mothers' path when it comes to relationships.
A second theory suggests that the real experience of observing his mother going through a divorce or breaking a cohabitation, or multiple breakups, leads the children to have more couples. According to this theory, an older half-brother who saw his mother pass through multiple couples should be at greater risk than a younger half-brother who was not exposed to so many couples.
But this was not the case, according to Kamp Dush. A brother who experienced that his mother went from one relationship to another did not have a statistically greater number of partners compared to a brother who did not experience instability. So, What explains why mothers and their children share trends in their relationships?
"What our results suggest is that mothers can pass on their marriage characteristics and relationship skills to their children, for better or for worse," Kamp Dush says. "It could be that mothers who have more couples do not have great abilities. To interact, do not deal well with conflicts or suffer from mental health problems, each of which can undermine relationships and lead to instability, regardless of the exact mechanisms, they can transmit these characteristics to their children, making their children's relationships less stable"