Don't like your child's choice of partner or spouse? I have lots of friends, as this previous post attests, who can't understand what their daughters or sons see in the person they've chosen to marry or partner with for life. Take Jane and Lew. Their daughter is on her second spouse and they haven't liked either one of them: Where their daughter is a lawyer, both of their sons-in-law were/are in law enforcement positions that have little upward mobility, to say nothing of a financial future. Jane and Lew are making their peace with the second spouse since he is the father of their grandson. But they're still confused and confounded.
They shouldn't be, at least not according to Piet Van Den Berg and Tim W. Fawcett. "a opinion piece by. If I read their New York Times column "Evolution and Bad Boyfriends, correctly, Jane and Lew are enablers in their daughter's choices. They have, in short, gotten what they wanted.
The authors' first point: All over the world parents and children "frequently don’t see eye to eye on what makes a suitable partner." If it's so widespread, the authors argue, "there is reason to suspect that it might have something to do with our evolutionary history."
How so? "It is in parents’ evolutionary interests to distribute their resources — money, support, etc. — in such a way that leads to as many surviving grandchildren as possible, regardless of which of their children provide them. Children, by contrast, have a stronger genetic interest in their own reproduction than in that of their siblings, so each child should try to secure more than his or her fair share of parental resources. It is this conflict over parental resources that can lead to a conflict over mate choice."
After building a computer model to simulate the evolutionary process of dating and mating, the authors came up with this finding: "...[P]arents in our model evolved to invest more resources in daughters who chose mates with few resources. This unequal investment was in the parents’ best interests, because a daughter with an unsupportive partner would profit more from extra help than her more fortunate sisters (the principle of diminishing returns on investment). By helping their needier daughters, parents maximized their total number of surviving grandchildren. But this unequal investment created an incentive for daughters to “exploit” their parents’ generosity by choosing a partner who was less supportive."
So it's all our fault if we don't like the guy our daughter marries. Jane and Lew are proof of the researcher's point. They are, in fact, helping to support the couple [paying the mortgage when their daughter took a year off to be a stay-at-home mom; loading their daughter's freezer with food; providing vacations]. But there is a co-conspirator: Darwin's making them do it.