Have Siblings? Unlikely to Divorce

Uh oh.  Having more siblings protects you from divorce later in life as an adult.  That's according to a new study.

Now, my son, Phillip, is an only child but I'm hoping he's in the  50% who stays married, anyway.  But I have a while to wait.  He's only 12.

The new study found that "growing up with siblings may definitely provide some protection against divorce as an adult."  And the more siblings, the better. Each additional sibling a person has (up to about seven) reduces the chance he'll divorce by 2 percent. More siblings didn’t provide additional protection, although they did not hurt, either.

“But when you compare children from large families to those with only one child, there is a meaningful gap in the probability of divorce,” newswise.com quotes Doug Downey, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.


One of the biggest surprises of the study was that it wasn’t the difference between being an only child and having siblings that was significant. "The real story appears to be how family dynamics change incrementally with the addition of each sibling," Downey tells newswise.com. "More siblings means more experience dealing with others, and that seems to provide additional help in dealing with a marriage relationship as an adult.”  And this was true through several generations of a family.

Rsearchers originally thought that it isn’t siblings that matter, but some other difference between large families and small families. “It could have been that small families are more likely to have a single parent, or have some other issue that may hurt children in their future marriage relationship," Downey tells newswise.com.

They considered other factors -- like socioeconomic status, education, whether parents were single parents, and several others -- but the results stayed the same: the more siblings you have, the smaller the chance you'll divorce.

“Growing up in a family with siblings, you develop a set of skills for negotiating both negative and positive interactions," Downey tells newswise. "You have to consider other people’s points of view, learn how to talk through problems. The more siblings you have, the more opportunities you have to practice those skills.
That can be a good foundation for adult relationships, including marriage.”

I guess he never talked to the families whose kids hide siblings' toys, or hate sharing bedrooms (and clothes), or beat each other up, every chance they get!

Or my family, of three siblings, who, sadly, don't talk to each other anymore.  Maybe Phillip is luckier than he knows.


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