According to the General Social Surveys (GSS), 18 percent of adults who were raised in an intact family have ever been divorced or separated, compared to 28 percent of those who lived in a non-intact family. Finally, parental divorce when their offspring are in their twenties may even inoculate them against divorce.See Paul Amato, “Explaining the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce,” This chart draws on data collected by the General Social Surveys, 1972-2006.
While parental divorce affects the child’s view of marriage, girls may be less influenced in their attitudes towards divorce “because they have more role models of intimacy and marriage as the ideal in their environment than boys do, especially in the media.” By contrast, boys have fewer role models of intimacy outside of their families.
Hence a father’s modeling of interpersonal skills is more important for boys.
Thus the more common divorce and rejection is among adults, the more the attitudes and expectations of rejection are mainstreamed among children, even those raised in intact married families.
Adult male children of divorced parents show more ambivalence than men from intact families about becoming involved in a relationship, though they invest more money and tangible goods in casual dating relationships.
Women share this ambivalence and demonstrate even more conflict, doubt, and lack of faith in their partner’s benevolence and tend to place less value on consistent commitment.
Unwed teen mothers, who have expectations of rejection and divorce in relationships, seem to retain negative attitudes towards men instilled by their parents’ divorce.
In particular, “boys who feel close to their fathers, regardless of biological status, have better attitudes about intimacy and the prospect of their own married lives than boys who do not feel close to their fathers.” Daughters of divorced parents anticipated cohabiting before marriage, regardless of the amount of affection between them and their fathers. According to Amato and Booth’s research, the risk is highest when the divorce takes place before the child reaches age 13.
Among daughters of intact marriages, it was mainly those with poor relationships with their fathers who anticipated they would cohabit. The risk that the child will divorce decreases significantly when their parents’ divorce takes place during the teen years.
Persons raised in divorced families tend to have less positive attitudes towards marriage, and more positive attitudes towards divorce.