Some of us forget the impact that our parents’ relationship has on the relationships that we pursue ourselves as adults. One of the biggest relationship problems in our society is that of violence, and many teens are desensitized to its impact.
A study at Iowa State has shed additional light on the impact that these youthful impressions have on our dating decisions. According to the study, those who grow up in a violent household are more likely to have violent relationships into adulthood.
“It is true that if you grow up in a violent household you have a higher likelihood of being in a violent relationship,” said Brenda Lohman, lead author and an associate professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University.
The study didn’t focus on physical violence, but instead noticed the impact of psychological violence. Dr. Lohman says that psychological violence actually had a stronger impact on a child’s perception of relationships than physical violence. They also seem to argue that it was the parent’s treatment of the child that mattered more than the way the parent treated his/her partner.
“If the parent is more aggressive toward the child, the child is more likely to be in relationships where they’re being victimized or perpetrating violence against their partner a few years or even a decade later,” Lohman said.
The study is part of a series on teen violence edited by Lohan for the April issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. The issue studies patterns of violence that exist in families over several generations. The researchers found that stress played a huge role in the proliferation of family violence. The impact appears to be greatest for younger couples.
“For whatever reason, the family stress that you experienced in early adolescence is having some kind of a lasting effect on your role as you settle into adulthood,” Neppl said. “And more so than emerging adulthood, or your early 20s, when you’re still trying to figure out what those roles are, you’re young and you may or may not have children yet.”
These studies play themselves out in pop culture. For example, the singers Chris Brown and Rihanna had a violent relationship and continue to remain together in spite of public criticism for their decision. Brown stated publicly that part of the reason that he sees violence in the way that he does is because he grew up in a violent household.