The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce – Judith Wallerstein

This wonderfully researched book examines the lives of divorced children over a 25-year period. It shows that the challenges for divorced families, especially children, are complex and continue to transform society. It is stated that Four. Five% first marriages break up, that the risk of divorce in second marriages is 60%, cast 25% of today’s people between the ages 18-44 years have divorced parents.

The difficulty of writing this article is that only a few comments can be made on a book and a topic, the full consideration of which would take us very far. The first paragraph of the introductory chapter recounts a Sesame Street episode in which Kermit the frog interview a little bird asking where he lived. The bird’s response is that it spends half its time happily playing in its mother’s nest and the rest of its time frolicking in its father’s nest.

This little story illustrates one of the many assumptions that this book completely dispels. Many parents and policy makers assume that as soon as the marriage is dissolved and the parents are released from an unhappy union, their children’s lives will be exactly as before. This book destroys this notion and clearly shows the lasting effects of divorce on children, and how it later shapes and even ruins their lives.

The book represents the voices of these children. Now they have grown up and some have families of their own. They narrate their difficulties in dealing with loneliness, anger, depression, drug abuse, and even violence in their own lives that followed the breakdown of their families. They talk about the unpleasantness of jumping from nest to nest, often having few options for how to spend their time and feeling inferior to children from intact families. Now they are forcing society to pay more attention to their interests.

The book is written in five parts, like five stories, and each section demonstrates the unique challenges these children face. Part One it’s about Karen james, a child forced by divorce to be a caregiver early in her life and continued to put the needs of others above herself throughout her growing years. Your life is compared to Gary, a son of parents who decided to stay together despite their difficult marriage.

Karen’s father was a successful dermatologist and her mother worked in a flower shop. She regularly yelled at her husband for not paying enough attention to the family. He also yelled complaints at her. The situation worsened when Ms. James lost her mother in an accident. Her husband became the main target of her anger, as Ms. James quickly sank into depression. Eventually and inevitably, their marriage ended in divorce, as they continued their wild feud with their children watching.

With her father meeting and marrying someone else, Karen’s mother moved from one relationship to another. Karen, from a very young age, became a surrogate mother for her siblings and even her mother. His own childhood had ended early. He continued this habit of nurturing others in his personal relationships: he always felt responsible for the problems of others.

His story is juxtaposed to that of Gary, He grew up in a home where the parents weren’t happy with each other, but they got over it despite their difficulties. Gary He grew up, married, and had his own family. His parents had been a model to him of how to keep the family together, despite their unhappiness with each other.

The second part deals with Larry, a child raised in a family ruined by the domestic violence and rage that plagued his life after the breakdown of his parents’ divorce. It is compared to Carol, a young man who, like him, witnessed scenes of parental violence without them being separated.

The third part is about Paula, who suffered intense loneliness after the divorce when her mother started studying and continued working at the same time. The divorce brought with it a financial nightmare for both his parents and his mother to make ends meet and had to study and work at the same time. This not only caused the loss of structure in Paula’s life but also the constant presence of one of her parents. She was an orphan of father and mother.

The fourth part is about Billy, a vulnerable child with special medical needs because he was born with a congenital heart disease. Billy’s health made it difficult for him to adjust to the new family environment. Her mother quickly remarried and focused on her new family. His father was concerned about sports and his business. Neither seemed sensitive to the time and attention Billy needed.

The fifth part is about Lisa, who grew up in a family in which everything possible was done to ensure harmony. After the divorce, his parents were determined not to make their son’s suffering worse and often cooperated with each other. Lisa’s case leads to the question: Isn’t fighting enough? Does the absence of conflict between divorced parents protect the child from suffering? However, even this did not stop Lisa’s anger, even though she seemed to have adjusted better than others after her parents’ divorce.

Although her father apparently happily remarried, there was a greater distance between Lisa and her parents than when their family was intact. He had to adjust to the two families, while continuing to jump from one parent to the other. As she went from being a girl to a woman in her thirties, she still harbored fears about marriage.

His life mirrored that of many children of divorcees (40% of them) who decide to remain single as adults. Some of them, like Lisa, lived together, others jumped from one adventure to another, and some led very lonely lives. Lisa’s story illustrates that although children feel immediately the impact of divorce, it is in adulthood that they suffer the most – especially when they venture out in search of love.

The book is an eloquent account of the aftermath of divorce and seeks to make us understand the long-term impact on children. The authors caution us that although we have created a world where there is greater freedom for adults, this comes with considerable and hidden costs. The authors wisely point out that their book is not a pronouncement against divorce. They are aware of the acute suffering of adults trapped in failed marriages. They are also equally aware that very few adults make the decision to divorce without due consideration.

But they just want to point out that while divorce can be beneficial for parents, the consequences for children are often dire. This book also seeks to help those affected by divorce rebuild their lives. This book is also for policy makers – judges and a wide variety of stakeholders in the legal system – urging them to pay more attention to children’s interests during and after a divorce.

The authors wisely conclude that while post-divorce culture needs to be improved, much more effort should be put into strengthening the institution of marriage.