Struggling to Find Love in the Shadow of a Failed Parental Union

A mountain of empirical evidence compels social scientists to acknowledge that children pay a high price when their parents fail in marriage—or when their parents never marry in the first place.  A study newly completed at the University of Denver now indicates that part of that price is the singular difficulty that children of divorced and never-married parents face as young adults trying to develop satisfactory relationships with their own romantic partners. In investigating young adults’ success in developing satisfactory romantic relationships, the Denver scholars scrutinize data collected from 1,153 young men and women ages 18 to 35.  In these data, parental marital status emerges as a strong predictor of success or failure in developing such relationships. When the researchers launched their study, they “predicted that those with married parents would report the highest relationship quality” in their own romantic couplings.  “This hypothesis,” they report, “was supported in that those with married parents reported higher relationship adjustment and less negative communication than those with divorced or never married parents.  In addition, those with married parents reported stronger commitment to their relationships and less physical aggression than those with never married parents.” In contrast, the researchers conclude that study participants with divorced parents experienced “lower relationship adjustment and more negative communication [in their own romantic pairings] than those with married parents.” Further analysis establishes that “those whose parents never married one another tended to report the lowest relationship quality (in terms of relationship adjustment, negative communication, commitment, and physical aggression) compared to those with divorced or married biological parents” (p values signal statistical significance at least at the .05 level for all indicated comparisons). The starkes
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