The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study

by Julia M. Lewis, Sandra Blakeslee

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Twenty-five years ago, Judith Wallerstein began talking to a group of 131 children whose parents were all going through a divorce. She asked them to tell her about the intimate details of their lives, which they did with remarkable candor. Having earned their trust, Wallerstein was rewarded with a deeply moving portrait of each of their lives as she followed them from childhood, through their adolescent struggles, and into adulthood. With The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, Wallerstein offers us the only close-up study of divorce ever conducted -- a unique report that will change our fundamental beliefs about divorce and offer new hope for the future.

Wallerstein chooses seven children who most embody the common life experiences of the larger group and follows their lives in vivid detail through adolescence and into their love affairs, their marriage successes and failures, and parenting their own children. In Wallerstein's hands, the experiences and anxieties of this generation of children, now in their late twenties to early forties, come to life. We watch as they struggle with the fear that their relationships will fail like those of their parents. Lacking an internal template of what a successful relationship looks like, they must invent their own codes of behavior in a culture that offers many models and few guidelines. Wallerstein shows how many over-came their dread of betrayal to find loving partners and to become successful, protective parents -- and how others are still struggling to find their heart's desire without knowing why they feel so frightened. She also demonstrates their great strengths and accomplishments, as a generation of survivors who often had to raise themselves and help their parents through difficult times.

For the first time, using a comparison group of adults who grew up in the same communities, Wallerstein shows how adult children of divorce essentially view life differently from their peers raised in intact homes where parents also confronted marital difficulties but decided on balance to stay together. In this way she sheds light on the question so many parents confront -- whether to stay unhappily married or to divorce.

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce should be essential reading for all adult children of divorce, their lovers, their partners, divorced parents or those considering divorce, judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals. Challenging some of our most cherished beliefs, this is a book that will forever alter how we think about divorce and its long-term impact on American society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786870738
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 10/01/2001
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 642,940
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

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.

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The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Wallerstein's work is amazing! While reading this book, I not only better understood my own feelings of being a child of divorce, but understood what my parents were going through. Although many parents make terrible mistakes that Dr. Wallerstein points out, the drama of their lives helped me see the big picture. This book should be suggested to anyone considering divorce or considering marriage. Dr. Wallerstein makes it very clear that the legacy of divorce does live on and is more serious than most intact families understand. Spouses especially of divorced children can benefit from reading this amazing study. A definate must read for ANYONE AND EVERYONE.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes - Divorce really only produces lifelong tragedy for The Children. This well researched work seems to of proved this, and when the Children of Divorce get divorced the grandchildren will inevitably suffer as well.....where will it stop? If two adults can't at least attempt to make marriage work for the sake of the children and themselves it seems that this book only casts them in the shadow of 'emotional murderers' for generations to come. Why give a child a 'legacy'????
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Wallerstein points out a critical fact in her book. It is a common misconception that there are two sides to every story; in this case two sides to every divorce. She points out that a third side of the divorce equation exists and is often forgotton; the point of view of the child. As a product of divorce, this book helps me identify the underlying fears that exist in my relationships, including friendships and romantic interests. I finally understand why I act the way I do in relationships, and now that I am aware of my actions, I can take corrective measures to make my relationships more effective.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has given clarification to much of what has made up my struggling journey through life toward authenticity and relative happiness. Judith Wallertstein is straight forward and unflinchingly honest. She has inslightfully reached into the wounded hearts of children of divorce and intact families with such skill, they feel able to share themselves with her on a level that is safe for them. As a 57 year old whose parents separated 18 different times this book has helped me toward wholeness. It will obviously not happen, but this book should be handed out after each wedding ceremony. It would save a lot of children and adults tremendous pain if taken seriously.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce is a long awaited book for those of us who experienced the pain of divorce but thought we had moved on. Divorces come in many categories - this book clearly shows what NOT to do when getting a divorce and some basics for dealing with the children. While I was lucky that my parents divorced (the book lays out the downfalls for people who are miserable but stay together for the childrens sake too - these are not necessarily the lucky ones just because their parents stayed together) but were friendly towards each other and with their raising the 3 of us, there are still problems that we, as adults, encounter... the legacy lives on. However, the book also lays out some positive steps parents can take (and luckily, although my parents divorced in the 70s, my parents practiced some simple rules of engagement with one another) to keep their children out of most of the harm in the situation so they (we could) can grow up and live life successfully. I think the book broke down some of the stereotypes of divorce that I heard and refused to submit to as a child. I was not going to be reserved, an underachiever, a bad sport, unable to form friendships, unable to have meaningful relationships, etc... It is much of the parents poor behavior during and after the divorce that permits these sterotypes to live on. Sorry to see that a few people are eager to blame the children. Now, I am dealing with my step-kids and the effects that their parents messy divorce and parental alienation has had on them. I realized the problems immediately and have been able to make positive, hopefully lasting changes in their lives. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce is that it doesn't have to disrupt everyones lives. There is HOPE for these children - but the hope is dependant upon having parents that are responsible enough to put their childrens' needs first. A must read for any child of divorce, any divorcing parent, any social worker that might deal with divorcing families, any teacher that will inevitably encounter children of divorced families, and various others whose friends, family members or coworkers are experiencing these issues. An easy read and important for future generations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The fact that this book even needed to be written is a sad comment on our society and how we value children. Why should the legacy of divorce be so unexpected? Human relationships are not as easily changed as tv channels. There are consequences. Especially for the children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you don't like your job -- get a new one. Tired of your car, trade it in. It's not too far of a stretch that people do the same thing with their marriages. The last 40 years this nation has sunk in all aspects and divorce has been a leading indicator of it all. This book puts a sad but true face on the pain and misery men and women leave behind when they aren't mature enough to fix themselves and their marriages and take the easy way out instead.