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A Connection Between Parental Divorce and Death?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

A study started by Dr Terman in 1923 followed 1500 children. Two of his

graduate students continued the study after his death and recently published

a book on their results, The book is "The Longevity Project" by Dr. Friedman

and Leslie Martin. The authors found that:

 

The long-term health effects of parental divorce were often devastating--it was a risky circumstance that changed the pathways of many of the young Terman participants. Children from divorced families died almost five years earlier on average than children from intact families. In fact, parental divorce during childhood was the single strongest social predictor of early death, many years into the future.

 

 

post #2 of 17
I could believe that. I have many friends who had divorced parents when they were just children.. its very stressful to grow up parted. Not to mention they then lack a good role model for making marriage work once they are grown and therefore are more likely to divorce as adults.
post #3 of 17

Has anyone done research on emotional health, adult relationship health and early death of adult children of parents who stay together but fight constantly?  As an adult child of divorced parents, studies like this really bother me.  Mostly b'c there is nothing that can be changed now.  Why add to the hurt of what has already happened?  I think most people who have had painful childhoods containing parental absence or loss are really just trying to move forward.  ANd parents who need to divorce are already usually feeling bad about how the kids will fare.  If this study is supposed to help convince couples to work hard on staying together even though they may be miserable with each other... I don't see how that benefits kids at all.  I'm confused why someone would dedicate so much time and effort on research like this.

 

* OP, I'm not slamming you for posting about it, I just don't understand the need for the research at all.

post #4 of 17

That's really interesting.  Going by just the paragraph in the OP, it's important to note that they said divorce was a predictor of earlier death, not that it was a cause.  It might be that there are other factors that would cause both divorce and earlier death. Alcohol, drugs, violent behavior, mental illness.

 

 

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

That's really interesting.  Going by just the paragraph in the OP, it's important to note that they said divorce was a predictor of earlier death, not that it was a cause.  It might be that there are other factors that would cause both divorce and earlier death. Alcohol, drugs, violent behavior, mental illness.

 

 



Socioeconomic status probably changes, and not for the better, after a divorce. So many things often come down to how affluent your family of origin is/was; it affects diet, educational levels, whether or not you live in a "safe" neighbourhood, etc. It may have nothing to do with emotional fallout.

post #6 of 17
post #7 of 17

Oh, ok, I understand... thx, journeymom.  It seems like the factor of divorce is a fairly small portion of everything involved within that particular research project.  I jumped to a conclusion when I read the OP and got defensive -  and I should have gone to check out the full study before dismissing the whole idea.  Haste makes waste!

post #8 of 17

I went to the link and that part about divorce seems like a very small piece of a big puzzle. I liked this quote:

 

<<The key traits are prudence and persistence. “The findings clearly revealed that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness,” they write, “the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor — somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree.”>>>

 

It sounds like an interesting book and that MOST of it is about things we can impact, not things we got stuck with.

 

There are many, many reasons why divorce could be linked to earlier death, as others have stated. The article talked about how WWII shorted the life expectancy of men during that time period, and I was thinking about how finances are linked to divorce, and how that could impact someone's likelyhood to enlist.

 

My childhood was all screwed up. Statistically, I should either be a child abuser or married to someone who abuses me. Instead, I've spent a lot of time in therapy, have a wonderful marriage to a sweet man, and am a pretty good mommy!

 

We make all the really big decisions in our lives once we are adults. No matter what the stats say, we each have tremendous power to create our lives the way we want them to be.

post #9 of 17

In 1923, divorce was pretty rare.  So socially speaking, that would have a much bigger impact than it would today, nearly 90 years later.  The societal timeframes are so different that I just don't think apt comparisons can be made. 

post #10 of 17

so the kids were from the 20s and 30s right?

 

divorce at that time was a nightmare. esp. all the social negativism. i dont expect stellar childhoods for those kids in general. 

 

you cant compare divorce then and now. social acceptance has changed quite a bit. 

post #11 of 17

I don't know what the studies are for non-African Americans, but being from Baltimore, where most of the African American males had been incarcerated at some point, I can say that divorce and/or not having a father in the home has been shown to increase the likelihood that a young man will end up in jail.

post #12 of 17

 

  The title, "A connection between parental divorce and death," I think

comes from psychology.com where a female psychologist reviewed the

book's chapter on divorce.

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/marry-divorce-reconcile/201105/connection-between-parental-divorce-and-death

 

She thought the study was very well done and was concerned about the

implications about the possible negative affects of divorce. To quote her:

 

"Aghast. I was aghast. As a science writer who has gone through a divorce, then

reconciled with and remarried my ex-husband, I've got sneaking, well-founded suspicions

about the impacts of divorce.

 

But this was almost unbelievable. Except it was true. Heart sinking, I was reminded of the

reasons for my misgivings about divorce. It was bedtime, and I was wide awake and riveted.

My review copy of the recently released The Longevity Project by Howard Friedman (a PT blogger)

and Leslie Martin had arrived that day, and I lay propped-up in bed, engrossed in Chapter 7: Parental Divorce."

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #13 of 17

 

I heard part of a radio interview recently about this book, but because I tuned in late and had to turn it off early, I didn't catch the title or the authors. The interview was fascinating. So thanks for posting, I'll be able to find the book now. 

 

OT, but after reading the NYT article, I wonder about strong social networks as a factor in longevity.  The obvious advantage is having people available to help, and even care, for you physically if you need it. With the advent of social networking technology, I'm sure someone will do a spin-off study on how much social networks that are confined to emotional support - no physical interaction at all - make a difference to life expectancy. That will be fascinating too. 

 

 

post #14 of 17

slightly OT

 

olly - this is for you. the Roseto study confirming social network advantages http://www.uic.edu/classes/osci/osci590/14_2%20The%20Roseto%20Effect.htm

 

yup i wonder too. the impacts of online social network. wonder if it would affect mental health. a personal favourite of mine since as an immigrant the high incidence of mental illness is still after all these years v. shocking to me. esp. since many immigrants have suffered depression for the first time since they moved. 

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

slightly OT

 

olly - this is for you. the Roseto study confirming social network advantages http://www.uic.edu/classes/osci/osci590/14_2%20The%20Roseto%20Effect.htm

 

yup i wonder too. the impacts of online social network. wonder if it would affect mental health. a personal favourite of mine since as an immigrant the high incidence of mental illness is still after all these years v. shocking to me. esp. since many immigrants have suffered depression for the first time since they moved. 


Thank you! Very interesting! 

 

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

  Hi:  Got a copy of the book and read the chapter on the

effects of divorce during young childhood. The authors checked

to see if the effect on length of the child's life could be due

to changes in the socioeconomics of the child's new environment.

They found socioeconomics were not a significant factor.

   They noted that children of divorce were more likely to be

divorced themselves when they grew up and that they seemed more

likely to be involved in risky behaviors, something that current

studies find in short term studies of children of divorce these

days which is part of the reason they argue that though divorce

is different these days the children back then and those of the

present are not that different and that divorce may be affecting the

longevity of today's children in similar fashion to the negative

association it had with a child's longevity if their parents

were divorced years ago. ..."leading us to beleive, from our reading

of the evidence, that family breakups today are not just an economic

threat but a threat to the short-term well-being of children and

teenagers, but they can also be a threat to long-term health and

well-being."

 

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

That's really interesting.  Going by just the paragraph in the OP, it's important to note that they said divorce was a predictor of earlier death, not that it was a cause.  It might be that there are other factors that would cause both divorce and earlier death. Alcohol, drugs, violent behavior, mental illness.

 

 



I agree.  Most parents don't just decide to divorce for no reason... there's usually a problem at home that causes the divorce.  Therefore, you'd assume those problems don't go away after the divorce.

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