Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Book: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce

I found a new book that I've been reading and I just love-- I highly recommend it! It's The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Wallerstein, Lewis, and Blakeslee.

It's a 25 year study of children whose parents divorced in the 1970's and 80's when they were young kids. The authors collected data about the children as they grew up and analyzed it to find similarities between them.

My parents divorced when I was in Kindergarten, age 5. I've always been interested in the way that the experience shaped my life. To learn how it effected other people and the common intersections... it's all very intriguing.

Here's a summary from During the last 40 years, our society's views on how families are created and how they operate has undergone a tremendous shift. In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, authors Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee have assembled a variety of stories from people of different ages and life stages. Some are children of divorce, some are from families that stayed unhappily intact, but all of them offer valuable information important to all of us as parents, children, and members of society at large. Separate chapters focus on the different roles children take on in the event of a divorce or unhappy marriage, ranging from positive role model to deeply troubled adolescent. In many cases, the people interviewed continue to define themselves as children of divorce up to 30 years after the occurrence; this is described by one subject as "sort of a permanent identity, like being adopted or something."

Both encouraging and thought-provoking, the final chapter questions how we maintain the freedom made possible by divorce while, at the same time, minimizing the damage. The authors' response to this question begins with pragmatic suggestions about strengthening marriage--not bland "family values" rhetoric but practical how-to ideas combined with national policy initiatives that have been making the rounds for years. With fascinating stories and statistics, Wasserstein, Lewis, and Blakeslee have illuminated the improvements within reach while our society experiences these massive changes in it's most fundamental relationships. --Jill Lightner
Check out the book here on Amazon.

Here are some of the quotes that I found to be interesting:

  • "As I listed to Gary describe what it was like to play in his backyard, it struck me that children from divorced families do not talk this way.... When children of divorce did remember playing with friends as an important experience of childhood, the memories were from before the divorce... children of divorce have other, more pressing concerns. Is Mom all right? Is Dad going to pick me up tonight?..."
  • "...divorce is a watershed that permanently alters their lives. The world is newly perceived as a far less reliable, more dangerous place... this new anxiety represents the end of childhood."
  • "As every child of divorce told me, no matter how often they see their parents, the image of them together as a loving couple is forever lost... Unlike children from intact families, children of divorce in our study spoke very little about their parents' interaction... the parents' interaction was a black hold-- as if the couple had vanished from memory and the children's conscious inner life."

Wow, interesting, huh? Hopefully, I'll share more with you as I go; I'm on page 50 now, so I've just started.

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