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The impact of teen daughters on their parents' marriage

Some of our readers may have heard about a recently-published study that indicates that parents who have a daughter before a son are more likely to divorce during their daughter's teen years than those whose first-born is a boy when he hits that stage of life.

This isn't a new theory, and it's been contested in some circles. However, researchers in this study had access to more comprehensive information than others have. Let's take a look at that study and some possible reasons for that phenomenon.

The study looked at two million couples in the Netherlands over a decade. Because of the detailed records kept by the Dutch government, researchers were able to compile marriage, birth and divorce records for these couples and their children.

Key findings

  • Divorce risk for parents of girls and boys remained the same until the teen years.
  • Parents of girls between 13 and 18 were 5 percent more likely to divorce than those with teen boys. The age of greatest risk for parental divorce was 15.
  • The risk was diminished if the father had sisters in his own home growing up.
  • The change in risk level disappeared once the kids were adults.

Possible reasons for the risk differences

  • Fathers with teen boys are more committed to the marriage because they want their sons to have a male role model present.
  • Parents are more likely to disagree about how to raise a daughter than a son and, in particular, about gender roles.
  • Men who haven't been around teen sisters have more anxiety about their daughters than their sons.
  • Couples, and fathers in particular, are more likely to have a strained relationship with a teen daughter than son.

The teen years are challenging for all parents. However, understanding the impact that your children has on your marriage can help you work through those child-rearing problems that may be adding strain to your relationship.

Disputes regarding how to raise a teen daughter may simply be amplifying problems that couples already have, causing them to reach a breaking point. If you believe that divorce is a possibility, a family law attorney can help you learn more about your legal options.

Source: WRAL, "You're more likely to divorce if your first child is a girl, study shows," Oct. 29, 2017

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