Divorce often leads to a partial or complete
collapse in an adult's ability to parent for months and
...mothers and fathers are
preoccupied with a thousand and one concerns, which can
blind them to the needs of their children.
We have not fully appreciated how
divorce continues to shape the lives of young people
after they reach full adulthood.
We have only recently begun to
understand the awful, lasting influence of seeing one
parent hit or hurt by the other... the suffering that it
causes to the child and how detrimental it is to mental
Even a single episode of violence
is long remembered in detail. In fact, there is
accumulating scientific evidence that witnessing violence
or being abused physically or verbally literally alters
brain development, resulting in a hyperactive emotional
system. (See "Increased prevalence of
electrophysiological abnormalities in children with
psychological, physical, and sexual abuse, "
|Reviews from Amazon
Twenty-five years ago, when the impact of
divorce on children was not well understood, Wallerstein
began what has now become the largest study on the
subject, and this audiobook, which McIntire reads with
compassion and warmth, presents the psychologist's
startling findings. By tracking approximately 100
children as they forge their lives as adults, she has
found that contrary to the popular belief that kids would
bounce back after the initial pain of their parents'
split, children of divorce often continue to suffer well
into adulthood. Their pain plays out in their
relationships, their work lives and their confidence
about parenting themselves. Wallerstein argues that
although the situation is dire, there is hope to be found
at the end of good counseling and healing.
Having suffered through an unwanted
divorce twenty years ago, and having taken on the full
responsibility for raising my two children (ages 10 and
13 at the time), "The Unexpected Legacy of
Divorce" was a welcomed book by me and my children.
My children have continued to experience divorce related
issues as they have moved into adulthood. Maturity,
relationships, marriage, and parenting have been
catalysts for the emergence of feelings that were buried
and denied. Judith Wallerstein's excellent book provides
the context and structure for my adult children to
explore and understand their "new" feelings
(and behaviors) enabling them to move-on, happier and
My children, their spouses, and I have all read
"Unexpected Legacy of Divorce." We have and
will continue to use the book as a resource in our
on-going effort to get closure. We have all come to
understand that the feelings and behaviors that are
surfacing are not unique but, rather, are quite
"normal" for children of divorce. This has been
of great comfort for them - allowing them to cleanse the
shadows of divorce and move forward with greater
confidence that they are not weird.
Wallerstein has conducted a longitudinal research study
of divorce dating back to the late 1970's.
"Unexpected Legacy" is the third and most
recent book based on the study. In previous books, she
has studied the effects of divorce, not only on children,
as she has in this book, but also on the divorcing
parents. All of the books are "must reads" for
those who are considering divorce or have divorced.
Over the years, I have had a number of people confide in
me that either they or their spouses were considering
divorce. My advice has always been to read Wallerstein's
series to learn the variety of outcomes that can arise
post-divorce and the strategies of those who faired best.
Those considering divorce are all well advised to
"do their homework."
These books are also a must read for anyone involved in
family and/or divorce counseling - religious or secular
In "Unexpected Legacy of Divorce," the authors
address the myth that the children will do fine if the
parents are happy - divorced. Children, no matter how
amicable and settled the parents are after divorce,
suffer greatly. They lose their family, they lose control
of their life (to the whims of parents and rules of
courts), and they lose their childhood. All of these
combine to provide a series of struggles as they move
into adulthood and beyond.
Important subject areas covered in this book include:
* The ghosts of childhood - the bottomline after 25 years
* The exploitation of children by divorcing parents
* The development path to adulthood being thrown out of
* Pushing a child's real feelings and thoughts
underground by being busy
* Children trapped by real feelings and thoughts of the
* Children dealing with the loss of THEIR nuclear family;
the family that created them just vanishing - a loss that
will be quietly or openly mourned throughout their lives.
* Why children turn on a parent(s) years later
* Children living with and coping with chaos
* Children and low self-esteem
* The missing father or mother after divorce
* Children growing up lonely
* Relationships with the "steps" (step-parents)
* The loss of mom - whether or not she is physically
* Court ordered visitation and its disruption of a
"real" life for the children to make mom and
* Children of divorce taking the leap in relationships
and marriages - the return of the relationship ghost
* The role of an intact family for modeling and shaping
children whether their parents marriage is filled with
joy, or loveless, or abusive
* Other residues of divorce for children - fear of loss,
fear of change, fear that disaster will strike,
especially when things are going well
* And the need for all involved in divorce, directly or
indirectly, to be educated on all the issues that emanate
from the divorce for children over their life as well as
in the short term.
This will not be an easy read for many. It was not
intended to be. Nevertheless, the journey this book
provides will be fruitful.
I recommend this and Wallerstein's other books highly.
These are an important books which will not diminish in
value over time. These are classics.