Divorce or Conflict?: The Effect of Parental Marital Status and Discord on Adult Children’s Relationship Outcomes

Constance T. Gager, Montclair State University
Miriam R. Linver, Montclair State University

This research aims to understand how changes in parental marital quality and marital status influence adult child relational outcomes. Specifically, we examine the effect of parents’ conflict, marital quality, and alcohol abuse on adult children’s conflict within current cohabiting or marital partners. Using waves 1 and 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) to construct a history of parent relationship transitions and family structure. We use NSFH3 to capture our main outcome variables, adult child reports of their level of disagreement with their current partner. We find that children with high conflict or alcoholic parents have a greater propensity for partner conflict themselves. Our key finding is that children who had high conflict parents report lower conflict in their own adult relationship if their parents separated or divorced compared to children from high conflict families whose parents remained together through wave 2.

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Presented in Poster Session 4