You don’t have to be Freud to freak out about the fact that your kid’s relationships are all going to be affected by their relationship with you, there’s plenty of data to back it up. Now a unique, 78-year longitudinal study published in the journal Psychological Science adds to this growing body or research that will hopefully keep your kid’s future significant others from also loving their sibling more.
Unlike many studies that rely on self-reported childhood details from adults, this study followed 81 men from adolescence until their eighth or ninth decade of life. They completed regular interviews and questionnaires along the way. To assess the early home environments of participants, researchers used a combination of existing interviews with parents and self reports, as well as development histories reported by a social worker.
When subjects were 45 to 50 years old, they completed interviews about life challenges they encountered in relationships, work, and physical health. Finally, when they reached their late 70s and early 80s, individuals were interviewed about their bond with their current partner, in addition to their past marriages and relationships — namely, how secure, supported, and comfortable they were in them.
The researchers, who suspiciously haven’t already died of natural causes, synthesized nearly 8 decades of data and found what you may have both guessed and feared: Men who grew up in nurturing homes were better at managing stressful emotions as middle aged adults and had more secure marriages 60 years later. The study neglected to note what percentage of the rest of them never got out of their parents basements.
Sure, it’s not the largest sample size, but most studies would be hard pressed to find more people who signed up for life-long analysis. And while it’s limited to men only, there’s enough data and stripper jokes out there to keep you on the hook with your daughter too. Add this to the pile of reminders that everything you do now matters later, and maybe thank your parents for your marriage. That’ll make it weird for the whole family.
[H/T] Eureka Alert