A recent New York Times Magazine article caught my eye with the headline: "Do Daughters Cause Divorce?"
As a child who'd witnessed her fair share of "normal" bickering between her parents, it took me only a second to click on the link. This is how the article began:
Parents of girls are 5 percent more likely to divorce than parents of boys.
Interesting lead-on, conclusive enough to prompt me to scan further. Apparently a study had been conducted in 2003 by two UCLA professors and later analyzed by economists who arrived at the conclusion that "boys are an asset to a marriage and girls are somehow a liability."
A theory's been floating around that "families prefer boys."
For centuries we've seen it happen in India: boys carry on the family name, they are an asset who will take care of the parents in old age, they light the pyre. Girls are only a burden — from the moment they're born one has to worry about their teenage years and pregnancy scares, and save money for their marriage.
In the last two decades, we have, as a modern urban society, made a lot of progress in our thinking, but even now a majority of rural India still holds the precept that boys are better. But those are not the folks we are talking about here — those village folks don't run around getting divorces and blaming it on their daughters. Although they do blame their daughters for just about everything.
We're talking about Americans — people in this country whose divorces were studied to reveal that daughters somehow cause five percent more divorces than sons.
Maybe fathers prefer boys and will work harder at keeping a relationship intact in order to raise them? Or the quality of married life is better with boys? Or boys are more likely to fall apart when their father leaves — hence their father doesn’t?
Seven after since the study, a Notre Dame psychology professor resurrected the research and suggested that it's not so much about the boys, as it is about women with daughters having "less need for a husband."
After all, she says, nearly three-quarters of all divorces involve a wife leaving her husband, so the question is not why do men stay for boys, but rather why mothers of daughters are divorcing more than mothers of sons.
I say baloney! It was baloney then, it is baloney now.