Young people whose parents went through a divorce used to be called “children of divorce,” as if they were raised by the divorce instead of by parents. In the 1970s, such children were twice as likely to get divorced themselves.

The phrase now seems to be disappearing as fast as higher divorce rates among people raised by divorced parents. From two times as likely, the rate has now fallen to 1.2 times and may be headed toward one-to-one oblivion. The obvious question for researchers, parents and their children is “Why?”

 

Kids with divorced parents still more likely to divorce

Like most parents contemplating divorce, you probably worry about the effects the split will have on your children. It’s a reasonable concern, since there’s no question divorce is usually a challenge for everyone in the family.

Indeed, there’s still an increased divorce risk for those with divorced parents. Researchers have never agreed about why, except that a combination of factors is likely responsible, as detailed a recent article in The Atlantic.

If your parents are divorced, you’re more likely to marry someone whose parents are also divorced, perhaps because shared experiences draw people together. And it may be that such children learn fewer lessons about staying together despite conflict, tragedy, disappointment and other challenges.

A dropping divorce risk for kids of divorced parents

The reasons for the increased risk are unclear and complex, so the reasons for the dropping risk are also murky and multiple.

Children used to face a stigma for having divorced parents, but not so much anymore. No longer outcasts, they’re freer to have healthier relationships.

Probably, children of divorced parents are less likely to see marriage as “given” for normal people. Whether or not they form life-long partnerships, children of divorce may marry less often and therefore can’t divorce as often.

Besides, it’s more acceptable today to marry later. So, when people do get married it may be less because of social expectations and more because they’ve taken plenty of time to focus on selecting the right partner.