A new study shows that the relationship between parents and teens – no matter how loving or difficult – can greatly impact on whether those children will have successful love lives.
Dr Matt Johnson from the University of Alberta, Canada, conducted the study in order to explore the complexities of the romantic ties that bind partners – and how someone’s upbringing can contribute to their present-day relationship problems, as well as issues surrounding depression and self-esteem.
By reviewing old data collected over 15 years, Johnson found that there is a “small but important link” between the quality and depth of intimacy in later relationships and the nature of the parent-child relationship – the effects of which can last for years.
Unsurprisingly, the data – which is published in the Journal of Marriage and Family – shows that good parent-teen relationships lead to better quality romantic relationships for those grown children later on in life.
Those children who had a tumultuous relationship with one or both of his or her parents showed a reduced likelihood of success in their future romantic relationships, yet interestingly this was only by a very slight chance. It may just take longer and require extra effort for a child with a difficult upbringing to forge successful, stable romantic relationships as an adult.
While Johnson believes “being aware of that connection may save a lot of heartache down the road,” he emphasises “that [it] doesn’t mean parents should be blamed for what might be wrong in a grown child’s relationship.”
Instead he says we should take care to understand and recognise that it takes the present actions of the two people involved in an intimate relationship to make it work or fail:
“It is important to recognise everyone has a role to play in creating a healthy relationship, and each person needs to take responsibility for their contribution to that dynamic.”
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