Daughters of Divorce: How to Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup
It’s no longer up to others to help you bounce back from your parents’ divorce. It can no longer be about their attitudes or behavior. It’s time for you to create change in your life and move forward.
Today, more than 40 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 40 are children of divorce. For decades, researchers have identified the risk factors that parental divorce brings to their children. Recently, many studies have examined the impact of parental breakup on children into adulthood, and also the factors that promote resiliency. In my research, published in The Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, I discovered that young adult women have unique vulnerabilities after their parents’ divorce than can impact their self-esteem and trust in partners, and create both a fear of commitment and longing for security in intimate relationships. My interest in studying divorce began with my own experience. Divorce runs in my family and I believe that my parents’ breakup cast a shadow over my young adult romantic relationships. As a result, I was fearful of repeating the cycle of divorce and fearful to commit to partners, even ones who could have been a good fit for me. It was a weird mix. I was fearful of commitment yet stayed in toxic relationships too long due to fear of being abandoned.
Daughters of DivorceMy research results support the view that many daughters of divorce, as compared to sons, have a tendency to be pessimistic about intimate relationships lasting. This can cause them to have a fear of commitment. Further, daughters of divorce are more than twice as likely to divorce themselves, when compared to their counterparts raised in intact homes. During my interviews of 320 young adult women, for my book Daughters of Divorce, I asked respondents to describe their experiences growing up in a divided home, and to identify their most prominent memories – such as their belief about why their parents divorced and whose fault it was. They were also asked to answer questions such as: “What is the most difficult part of a romantic relationship for you?" During these interviews, I was able to identify some key emotional challenges faced by daughters of divorce in my sample and they are listed below.
- Trouble trusting romantic partners
- Damaged or lowered self-esteem
- Issues with intimacy and commitment
- Extreme self-reliance or independence
- Persistent doubts about the stability of present relationships
- A father-daughter wound