Daughters Help Mothers End Multigenerational Patterns of Abuse
Everywhere you turn you are reminded by hot pink accents that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but what is less known is that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is a very serious problem that is prevalent across the nation and made even more dangerous by the fact that many instances of domestic violence go unreported by victims for several reasons including fear, denial or a lack of resources.
As we make ourselves aware of the problem, one research study shows that the mother-daughter relationship may actually help end multigenerational patterns of domestic violence. Researchers Anita Kelly and Susan Heitler re-evaluated a study done in 2003 that looked from a pro-male perspective at why couples with daughters were more likely to divorce.
The study showed that couples with first-born daughters were 5 percent more at risk for divorce, and where there were three or more daughters the risk percentage doubled. The original theory was that boys somehow made a relationship better or helped keep a father from leaving.
Kelly and Heitler criticized the study for failing to acknowledge that 73 percent of all divorces were initiated by the female spouse. They began their research into the daughter-divorce effect from a different perspective by evaluating the mother-daughter relationship and concluded that many mothers across the nation are empowered by their daughters to leave a negative or abusive relationship. Because they want to teach their daughter about love and healthy relationships, they are more likely to help themselves in order to set a good example.
The researchers theorize that the special relationship makes mothers feel more support and fear loneliness less when contemplating divorce. Based on the statistic that daughters help reduce a mother’s household burden while boys tend to increase it, they found that women may anticipate support from their daughters but fear raising a boy as a single parent.