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London - For many they are the source of endless adolescent embarrassments and ferocious rows, but having a good relationship with your parents can increase your chances of finding true love and having a successful healthy romantic attachment as an adult, a new study has shown.
Those who report having felt close to their parents and were satisfied with the way their parent communicated with them while they were growing up were found to have higher self-esteem and higher quality intimate relationships as adults.
It has long been known that your relationship with your parents can affect your later romantic attachments, with “authoritative” parenting (a combination of both demands on the child and emotional warmth) being linked to healthy, balanced relationships for the child in adulthood.
However, the reasons why your relationship with your parents is so instrumental in your later love life are less clear.
A new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family explored the causes of the link and found that it is the way your parental relationships shape your mental health that is key.
Researchers at the University of Alberta looked at over 15 years of data on 2 970 people and found a strong bond between parents and adolescents was linked to lower levels of depression and higher self-esteem as well as higher levels of intimacy in romantic relationships.
Lead researcher Matt Johnson says: “People tend to compartmentalise their relationships; they tend not to see the connection between one kind, such as family relations, and another, like couple unions.
“But understanding your contribution to the relationship with your parents would be important to recognising any tendency to replicate behaviour – positive or negative – in an intimate relationship.”
However, while it might be tempting to start blaming your parents for that terrible breakup or your last failed relationship, the study points out that self-reflection – examining why you might self-sabotage in various ways – can help overcome any issues from your parental relationship.
Johnson added: “It is important to recognise everyone has a role to play in creating a healthy relationship, and each person needs to take responsibility for their contribution to that dynamic.”
But being aware of that connection may save a lot of heartache down the road. “The effects can be long-lasting”, Johnson said. – Daily Mail