The Longevity Project, released last year, gives some interesting insights into what is involved in living a long and healthy life. Needless to say, stable families and marriage was addressed. But one distressing finding did emerge. What is the single strongest social predictor of early death in childhood? It’s parental divorce during childhood.
Howard S. Friedman, co-author of the book and research, explains:
The early death of a parent had no measurable effect on children’s life spans or mortality risk, but the long-term health effects of broken families were often devastating. Parental divorce during childhood emerged as the single strongest predictor of early death in adulthood. The grown children of divorced parents died almost five years earlier, on average, than children from intact families. The causes of death ranged from accidents and violence to cancer, heart attack and stroke. Parental break-ups remain, the authors say, among the most traumatic and harmful events for children.
Friedman gave clarification and hope regarding the children of divorce by explaining that children who learned to face stress and learned resilience from the trauma of their parent’s divorce could bounce back and live long healthy lives.
To see more research on the impact of divorce upon children, see United Family International’s Guide to Family Issues: Divorce. Be sure to scroll down to the “Fast Facts & Commentary” section to see all the research.