- Paperback: 351 pages
- Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 19 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786886161
- ISBN-13: 978-0786886166
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 20.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 64 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study Paperback – Sep 1 2001
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"Any child of divorce -- no matter how far removed from the . . . breakup -- can identify." -- Newsweek
"Combines research and analysis with advice to real people . . . we owe a great deal to the work of Judith Wallerstein. . . ." -- New York Times Book Review
"Persuasive." -- Boston Sunday Globe
"The truth and usefulness of Wallerstein's findings will be tested in houses and apartments . . . not in sterile think tanks." -- Time
"What a wonderful study . . . gives us new, important insights." -- T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., author of Touchpoints
About the Author
Judith S. Wallerstein is widely considered the world's foremost authority on the effects of divorce on children. The founder of the Judith Wallerstein Center for the Family in Transition, she is a senior lecturer emerita at the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author, with Sandra Blakeslee, of the national bestsellers The Good Marriage and Second Chances, and with Dr. Joan Berlin Kelly of Surviving the Breakup. Julia M. Lewis is a professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University, where she is Director of the Psychology Clinic and Coordinator of the Clinical Pyschology graduate program. She is co-principal investigator of the 25-year Children of Divorce Project. Sandra Blakeslee is an award-winning science correspondent for The New York Times.
Top customer reviews
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The author demonstrates, through examples in her case studies, that: very little children experience very big feelings about divorce (including rage and fear), that each lifestage a child goes through causes them to re-live the divorce again in some new way, that divorce causes personal and relationship issues for the children well into adulthood, and that the divorce culture is creating a new generation of people who choose not to marry and risk reliving their parents mistakes.
The author also takes on the important, if uncomfortable, truth that parents do not usually want to do the work of taking on the issues that their divorce creates for their children. Not fighting in front of the children isn't enough. Children need to be given opportunities to express their anger at having their lives torn apart, their homes and friends snatched away, and time with their parents disappear. The author points out that parents are usually more concerned with dealing with their own issues surrounding the divorce, working on new relationships, and rebuilding their personal social lives. The children of divorce are typically left on their own emotionally, sometimes literally. She also addresses the issue of children having to adjust to new step-parents, lovers, and step-siblings.
The problem of competition between children and step parents is also treated with frankness. Children are far too often given short shrift when a new step-parent feels threatened or that the child is taking up too much: time, space, money, attention, etc. The author is admirably blunt in stating that if forced to choose, parents more often than not choose the new spouse over their child.
This is an important work that should serve as a wake-up call. Divorce hurts children. Children of divorce are more likely to get divorced, creating more hurt children. Our society cannot survive too many more generations of this cycle before we implode upon ourselves. Read this book.
She immediately debunks a commonly held theory, namely that children are resilient and quickly bounce back from a divorce. This is not at all the case, Wallerstein argues, rather the effects are not immediately apparent and come into play much later in life when those children look to form their own marriages. The insights continue from there.
Never before had I read a book that actually made me cry. That is exactly what happened as Wallerstein articulated ideas that helped me come to grips with thoughts and emotions that had largely lurked in the background for years. 'The day my parents divorced was the day my childhood ended' comments one of her subjects, a statement that resonated so deeply I found tears running down my face.
Any child of divorce should read this book, at the very least to gain some insight into some of the feelings you have, or patterns of behavior you exhibit. For me, there were so many examples that hit home, I cannot overstate the value of this study. Read it, you might just learn something about yourself.
I've read some critiques of this work which, to be honest, sound largely like they were written by people who divorced and don't want to feel guilty about the effects that it will invariably have on their children. Much of the criticism focuses on the perception that Wallerstein is urging people to stay in bad marriages for the sake of the children. Not only is this erroneous but, sadly, it misses the vast majority of the value that this work provides: the real life experiences of children of divorce and their attempts to deal with the impact of that life-altering event.
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