Sunday, March 30, 2014

For Children, There's No Such Thing as a "Good Divorce"

God has called Linda and I to try to save marriages. For us, this is a high calling, and we love doing it.

A central part of the pain of divorce is how the children do. Note this: it is a myth that children of divorce will be OK. For husbands or wives who bought into this myth I would refer them to Judith Wallerstein's The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study

I recently purchased Elizabeth Marquardt's Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce. From

"Is there really such a thing as a good divorce ? Determined to uncover the truth, Elizabeth Marquardt herself a child of divorce conducted, with Professor Norval Glenn, a pioneering national study of children of divorce, surveying 1,500 young adults from both divorced and intact families between 2001 and 2003. In Between Two Worlds, she weaves the findings of that study together with powerful, unsentimental stories of the childhoods of young people from divorced families.

The hard truth, she says, is that while divorce is sometimes necessary, even amicable divorces sow lasting inner conflict in the lives of children. When a family breaks in two, children who stay in touch with both parents must travel between two worlds, trying alone to reconcile their parents often strikingly different beliefs, values, and ways of living. Authoritative, beautifully written, and alive with the voices of men and women whose lives were changed by divorce, Marquardt s book is essential reading for anyone who grew up between two worlds."

Divorce generates a sense of "homelessness" in a child, which has a destructive impact on them. "There is the lingering question that divorce injects into the consciousness of the surviving progeny: “Who am I now that the two people who together made up my origin have gone their separate ways?”" ("The Baggage Adult Children of Divorce Carry")

Browning and Marquardt write: "Marquardt has studied children of divorce whose experience was almost entirely ignored as the no-fault divorce revolution took hold. In the three decades during which a high divorce rate has come to be seen by many as an unavoidable fact of contemporary society, legal theorists have continued to overlook and deny the injustice forced on these children. They are required to divide their time and affections between two homes or to lose contact with their mother or father, too often in the name of the happiness of their parents. While some divorces are necessary, the fact that the majority of divorces end low-conflict marriages reinforces this question as one of social justice." (Don Browning and Elizabeth Marquardt, "What About the Children?," in The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, & Morals, Kindle Locations 933-937)

If a child of divorce can come to realize that they are not, ultimately, their biological parents' child but a child of God, they can come to forgive their parents for the failure of divorce. Nonetheless, the brutality of divorce upon them gives heavy burdens they should have never had to carry in this life.