In modern society, marriages have faced numerous challenges across the globe. In most families, children live with their single parents because the latter are either separated or divorced. Therefore, several studies have been conducted to identify the impacts that failed marriages have imposed on children. Although there have been different findings, social learning theory is widely accepted to illustrate the effects. The model elaborates that people can learn by imitating the actions of their superiors. Therefore, the social learning theory can explain the intergenerational transmission of marital violence and marital instability through observations, modeling, and imitating the parents’ behaviors.
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Intergenerational transmission of marital violence and instability can be experienced through observations. Children raised in a family in which parents are violent towards themselves or their offspring are likely to acquire violent traits. They think that it is normal to become violent to achieve a goal. Moreover, they observe if their parents are consistent in their lives due to a stable relationship. In case their families are not firm, they will most probably fail in their relationships.
According to Amato and DeBoer (2004), children whose parents are divorced can annul their future marriages. However, children whose parents are staying together will persevere in their matrimonies and also eradicate poverty (Ludwig & Mayer, 2006). Therefore, it implies that children use social learning theory to observe what their parents do and implement the actions in their future endeavors.
Additionally, modeling behavior creates intergenerational transmission of marital violence and instability because the offspring can modify their character to adapt to their environment. According to Amato and Patterson (2016), offspring adopt union discord if their parents are divorced. They believe that the dissolution of a marriage is the only solution as opposed to lifelong commitment. If they see their parents doing well after divorce, they tend to trust that marriage is not that important and that anybody can separate at will when they no longer feel interested in the union. In short, the characters of the children of divorced parents are transformed to see marriage as less important than children who are raised in stable marriages.
Finally, social learning theory explains the intergenerational transmission of marital violence and marital instability through imitation of the behaviors. The idea illustrates that children can learn from imitating other individuals’ actions (MacBlain, 2018). For instance, if a child watches an adult person reacting violently towards an individual, they imitate the elder and act violently against the said person. This implies that they believe in what their parents do and conduct it in the same manner if given an opportunity. Mihalic and Elliott (1997) illustrate that women are more likely to imitate their parents and be more affected than boys. Therefore, offspring whose parents are divorced will also copy the trend and divorce their spouses.
Succinctly, the theory of social learning can explain the intergenerational transmission of marital violence and marital instability through observation, modeling, and imitating the behaviors of other people. Children can observe how their parents behave towards one another and implement their actions in their future relationships. If they are raised in an unstable family, they are more likely to be in unstable relationships because they don’t value family commitment.
The behaviors and actions of the parents determine what type of engagement the children will have with their spouses. Social theory illustrates that people can learn from such situations and implement the lessons when given the opportunity. Therefore, if the offspring of violent parents are allowed to form their own families, they are likely to express aggressive behaviors towards their partners and other people in general.
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Amato, P. R., & DeBoer, D. D. (2004). The transmission of marital instability across generations: Relationship skills or commitment to marriage? Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(4), 1038-1051. Web.
Amato, P. R., & Patterson, S. E. (2016). The intergenerational transmission of union instability in early adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 79(3), 723-738. Web.
Ludwig, J. & Mayer, S. (2006). The future of children: “Culture” and the intergenerational transmission of poverty: The prevention paradox. Princeton University,16(2), 175-196. Web.
MacBlain, S. (2018). Albert Bandura and social learning theory. In Learning theories for early years practice (pp. 63-94). SAGE.
Mihalic, S. W., & Elliott, D. (1997). A social learning theory model of marital violence. Journal of Family Violence, 12(1), 21-47. Web.