Di­vorce could be in your DNA – study

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS -

DI­VORCE could be in the genes, with chil­dren of sep­a­rated par­ents “pro­grammed” to split up as well, a study has shown.

It has been thought that chil­dren of di­vorce are twice as likely to get di­vorced them­selves be­cause they do not have hap­pily mar­ried par­ents as role mod­els.

But though this may have an in­flu­ence, a study has found there are strong bi­o­log­i­cal rea­sons too.

While there is no “di­vorce gene”, the per­son­al­ity traits that of­ten cause mar­riages to break up, such as ex­treme neg­a­tiv­ity or lack of self-re­straint, may be writ­ten in our DNA and passed on from par­ents to their chil­dren.

Re­searchers at Vir­ginia State Univer­sity in the US and Swe­den’s Lund Univer­sity, tested the ge­netic the­ory by look­ing at the mar­i­tal his­to­ries of more than 20 000 adopted chil­dren.

They found that these chil­dren were more likely to re­sem­ble their bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents and sib­lings than their adop­tive fam­i­lies when it came to whether they ended up be­ing di­vorced, sug­gest­ing na­ture is more im­por­tant than nur­ture.

Dr Ken­neth Kendler, of Vir­ginia State Univer­sity, said: “I see this as a quite sig­nif­i­cant find­ing. Nearly all the prior lit­er­a­ture em­pha­sised that di­vorce was trans­mit­ted across gen­er­a­tions psy­cho­log­i­cally. Our re­sults con­tra­dict that, sug­gest­ing that ge­netic fac­tors are more im­por­tant.”

Dr Jes­sica Sal­va­tore said “pre­vi­ous stud­ies haven’t ad­e­quately con­trolled for or ex­am­ined some­thing else in ad­di­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment that di­vorc­ing par­ents trans­mit to their chil­dren – genes”.

To fur­ther test their ge­netic hy­poth­e­sis, the re­searchers looked at 82 698 peo­ple who grew up with their bi­o­log­i­cal mother but had an ab­sent fa­ther. They found that such chil­dren were still in­flu­enced by their fa­ther’s di­vorce his­tory.

How­ever, their own di­vorce his­tory was more sim­i­lar to their mother’s, sug­gest­ing the per­son they grew up with still mat­tered.

The re­searchers said that di­vorce is linked to those who ex­pe­ri­ence roller-coaster emo­tions, with high lev­els of neg­a­tiv­ity and pos­i­tiv­ity, and low lev­els of self-re­straint.

These traits can lead to mar­i­tal prob­lems and could be passed on to chil­dren through their par­ents’ genes, they wrote in the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence. – Daily Mail

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