Women model their moms in relationships

August 18, 2005

Ohio State University researchers say they've discovered when it comes to living with a man, daughters often follow the lead of their mothers.

The Ohio State study showed young adult women whose mothers reported cohabitation were 57 percent more likely than other women to report cohabitation themselves.

"Women tend to model the behavior of their mothers when it comes to relationships," said Leanna Mellott, co-author of the study and an Ohio State graduate student in sociology.

The likelihood that sons would cohabit was not affected by whether their mothers lived with a man outside marriage.

While there has been a lot of research on how divorce affects children, this is one of few studies on the impact of cohabitation, said Zhenchao Qian, another co-author and associate professor of sociology.

The researchers noted more than one-third of all births in the United States during 2003 were to unmarried women.

"As more people enter into cohabiting relationships and have children, we have to recognize that this could have long-term effects on these children as they enter adulthood," Qian said.

Mellott presented the study Tuesday in Philadelphia during the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Society continues to value mothers over women who do not have children, but at what cost?

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