Studies show you’re more likely to divorce if your first child is a girl

Raising teenagers is taxing (and tends to test your wedding vows) but does the gender of your first child help contribute to the divorce rate?

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  • A new study by Dr. Jan Kabatek and Dr. David Ribar, research fellows at the University of Melbourne, revealed that parents with daughters are a tad more likely to separate than the ones with sons - but only during the teenage period. Results suggest that a strained relationship between the couples and their teen daughters might bring marriages to a tragic end.

  • Over 10 years, Kabatek and Ribar studied over two million marriages in the Netherlands. Their working paper displays the results: divorce risks increase with kids' ages until they are adults - with parents of teenaged daughters at greater risk. However, this risk withers in cases where fathers grew up with a sister, outlines Business Insider.

  • What's the link between daughters and divorce?

  • Separate studies in the United States have demonstrated that parents with a girl as their oldest child are more likely to divorce when compared to parents of first-born boys ... but the impact of gender on a couple's relationship has always been a contested area. However, Huffington Post points out that Kabatek and Ribar's study used data from the Netherlands, studying comprehensive records that allowed the doctors to look at accurate weddings, divorces, and birth dates.

  • The detailed data helped them delve deeper than previous researches, which usually rely on recollection and self-reports, rather than hard facts. Additionally, the data allowed the two researchers to study the gender of couples, and how long after the birth of the child the couples split.

  • According to the Business Insider report of the study, Kabatek and Ribar discovered that up until the age of 12, there was no difference between the separation risks faced by parents of girls and boys. But, between the ages of 13 and 18, parents of teenaged girls face five percent higher risks of separation than parents of teenaged boys.

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  • The study also heavily suggested that the most tumultuous time for parents was when their teenage girl turned 15 - but that divorce risk does lesson considerably when the child turns 19.

  • How daughters raise divorce risks

  • There are most likely several causes, one being the cultural preference for males over females. Another theory suggests that men strive to uphold a strong male role model and are more committed to the marriage.

  • However, Kabatek and Ribar didn't find any solid evidence in support of these theories. Their results suggested that strain stems from a difference in attitudes regarding gender roles - During the survey, families were asked about their opinions and relationships on marriage, parenting, and gender.

  • When asked, "parents of teenage daughters disagreed more about the way they should raise their children, and expressed more positive attitudes towards divorce. They were also less satisfied with the quality of their family relationships.

  • "Teenage daughters, in turn, reported worse relationships with their fathers, though not with their mothers.",according to Business Insider.

  • Examining fathers who grew up with sisters

  • Kabatek and Ribar compared fathers who had grown up with sisters and those who hadn't - results suggest that men who grew up with a teenage sisters faced less relationship anxiety with their own teen daughters. The fathers who did not grow up sisters demonstrated higher divorce risk.

  • The immigration background (and ages) of the couple were also factored in. Research fellows at the University of Melbourne learned the parents who have more traditional attitudes toward gender roles have a higher probability of separation from teenage girls, as outlined by the Huffington Post.

  • What the study really suggests

  • While this study is certainly suggestive, the results are still modest when compared to the child's overall lifetime. According to Kabatek and Ribar's study, by the time the first-born kids reaches the age of 25, 311 of 1,000 Dutch parents with daughters had divorced (compared to 307 of 1,000 with sons). There's only a difference of four divorces for every 1,000 couples.

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  • While there does seem to be a tendency for marriage complications if you have teen daughter, other factors like the family's opinion towards gender roles seemed to be equally impactful. Though struggles with adolescents will still happen, if parents are prepared and able to help the family discuss potential problems and expectations, it seems that the strain on the relationship signficantly lessens.

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Cornelia is an avid writer that has an eye for tech trends. She is passionate about what goes on within the industry and creating the story behind it.

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