For All of You That Had a Childhood Shaped By Divorce…."Between Two Worlds" The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce by Elizabeth Marquardt is a powerful tool in the awareness of the long term effects of divorce on children and families. This book summarizes a pioneering national study of young people profoundly shaped by childhood divorce. The confusion and pain of divorce often become more acute during the holiday season for our families. Perhaps with some insight and thoughtfulness we can avoid some of the worst that takes its toll on our children.
This book is good all the way through but the conclusion called "What Children of Divorce Want' is outstanding. I can imagine folks sitting in Barnes and Noble, drinking coffee and flipping to the end just to read this 9 page section! Elizabeth Marquardt admits that she has spent a great deal of her energy thinking about divorce from a child's perspective but she has also seen the grief and loss of those failed marriages on the divorced adults she meets as well. She says, "I want to shake loose those glaringly wrong assumptions: That divorce doesn't matter if the parents get along. That divorce doesn't matter if the kids don't look like damaged goods. That divorce doesn't matter as long as parents keep loving their children. I believe that all adults--whatever their own history--should be able to tolerate hearing the children's point of view."
"This is what we want: a home, strong marriages, understanding of our true experience, and a secure world for our children--one world."
"Those that are visibly suffering are not the entire story. They're the tip of the iceberg. The others, the ones without serious disabling problems are everywhere--at your workplace, at school, at church. We don't look much different from anyone else. We might seem a bit more guarded, a bit slower to make new friends, a bit more anxious about life in general. But we do manage to make friends, fall in love, accomplish goals, succeed at work; some of us do quite well. If you ask any of us about our lives, though, you'll discover that our parents' divorce is central to the story of our childhoods and to who we are today."
Our culture tends to lead us in the direction of believing that marriage is a destination rather than a journey. "The Bachelor" reins us in and wedding planners thrive. There are a lot of folks that make a bunch of money getting us wed but not so much in our culture supports us along the way. Who is there to tell you about normal adult developmental stages other than the comic strips that poke fun of the "crises"? Who tells you that there are times when you really won't even like the person you married, but that's ok, it will pass? My grandmother did say in her understated, nonjudgmental way when I complained about the man I married: "Sometimes they just won't do what you want them to do" and I knew she knew something that I didn't understand yet! Surely the pain of working out the quirks along the journey has the potential for less pain for those we love unconditionally--our children. So, grab a book, drink some coffee and prepare to give your children the best gift of the holidays!
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