Children follow their mother’s example when it comes to the number of romantic relationships they have, according to research.

A new study, the largest ever of its kind, found children of women who change partners regularly are likely to follow suit, while those who favour long-term relationships tend to have mothers who behaved similarly.

However, scientists are at a loss to explain why, shares The Telegraph.

While it is already known that children of parents who divorce are more likely to divorce themselves compared to those whose mother and father stay married, this is the first study to show how closely the number of relationships a person has correlates across the generations.

Previous research has also suggested that economics explains the link, the idea being that the financial insecurity that often comes with a mother who frequently changes partners damages the child emotionally, making it harder for him or her to settle down themselves.

However, the new study, published in the journal PLOS One, adjusted for this, indicating there is a more fundamental reason why children follow their mothers’ example.

The findings by the University of Ohio come from analysis of more than 7,000 people over 24 years.

“It’s not just divorce now – many children are seeing their parents divorce, start new cohabiting relationships, and having those end as well,” said Professor Claire Kamp Dush, who led the research.

“All of these relationships can influence children’s outcomes, as we see in this study.”

Both the number of marriages and the number of cohabiting partners by mothers had similar effects on how many partners their children had, the study found.

However, results showed that siblings exposed to their mothers’ cohabitation for longer periods had more partners than their siblings exposed to less cohabitation.

“You may see cohabitation as an attractive, lower-commitment type of relationship if you’ve seen your mother in such a relationship for a longer time,” Kamp Dush said.

“That may lead to more partners since cohabiting relationships are more likely to break-up.”


Share your comments below

  • I think I would like to see the stats for this research


  • What a load of crap! I don’t believe this at all.


  • I don’t think this is true! My mum and dad have been together since he was 17 and she was 14. I on the other hand took a long time to find my mr right, and even had a failed marriage before I found my soul mate.


  • Children learn some things from their parents’ example but not everything or everybody. Those in isolated areas are more likely to do the same things as they know nothing different.


  • We all make our own way in the world. Some are lucky in love, others not. Don’t think we can blaim the mother.


  • Really? My son hasn’t followed my footsteps. I married by childhood sweetheart whom I first started seeing when I was 14. My 17 year old has been in 3 relationships so far and I encourage him to explore, and have fun before he settles down.


  • Where do they come up with such ridiculous studies. All of my family divorced and had new partners but not me. I met Bill when I was 13, married at 20 and lost him 3 months ago at 61 from cancer.


  • People make life what they want I’m not sure we’re all just sheep.


  • Rubbish. I saw what my mother and sister did (many many partners) and I went the opposite way. People are smart enought o make their own decisions.


  • Yeh I’m on the fence with this one.


  • Not so sure this sounds right.


  • Not sure I believe in everything they say. My parents were separated. Both my sisters divorced too. Maybe there is a relation there. But about the number of relationships I am not sure.


  • Sounds sadly like a mother blaming article! :(

    • Yeah I was wondering where the corresponding research on Dads is

      • Exactly! What is the purpose of the study and 7000 people were in the study. What was the make up of the group of 7000. I would like to know how they measure outcomes.


  • Monkey see,Monkey do,Our children are products of us all,Look at our prison population and look at their back ground,The result does surprise a lot of people,Raise your children with the knowledge their watching everything you do,As witnessed though a lot of parents don’t care how or where their child ends up,Be careful not to let these children influence your own,Cheer’s Krusty.


  • I sure think that the type of relationships and break ups, influence their children.


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