If you’re hoping that your children will provide support and care for you when you get old, be forewarned: it might depend on how your marriage went. A study from Temple University in Philadelphia says that marital transitions such as divorce and remarriage can predict how involved the children will be in their parents’ care as the latter reach old age — even 30 years after the event.
Gerontologist Adam Davey, Ph.D., who researches trends of the baby-boomer generation, claims that adult children of divorce tend to involve themselves less in daily aid for their parents, including helping parents maintain home chores. Dr. Davey’s report, published in the September 2007 issue of Advances in Life Course Research, also states that a divorce that occurs early in a child’s life is less likely to harm the relationship between divorced parents and child than one during the latter’s adulthood. In addition, a child will be more likely to assist their aging father if he remarries early on, and more likely to help their divorced mother if they spend more time with her.
“It’s not the divorce itself that affects the quality of the parent-child relationship,” Dr. Davey says, “but it’s what happens afterwards, such as geographical separation.” He adds that the time in the child’s life when the divorce occurs is a significant factor. “Given how common marital transitions have become… it’s surprising that the effects aren’t even more pronounced.”
Dr. Davey worked from National Survey of Family and Households reports by 2,087 parents, all at least fifty years old, who provided data on their 7,019 grown-up children.
For a child psychologist’s view on when is best to divorce to minimize the damage to your children, click here.
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