Long-Term Effects of Divorce Disputed

As mentioned, the short-term and long-term effects of divorce on children are disputed.

Judith Wallerstein’s The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce ignited a controversy by arguing that grown children of failed marriages continue to suffer well into adulthood. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (with Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee), which is a follow up of Wallerstein’s 1979 Surviving the Breakup, argues that divorce throws long shadows into the lives of adolescents and young adults - "the ghosts that rise to haunt them as they enter adulthood. Men and women from divorced families live in fear that they will repeat their parents’ history, hardly daring to hope that they can do better. These fears, which were present but less commanding during adolescence, become overpowering in young adulthood, more so if one of both or the parents failed to achieve a lasting relationship after a first or second divorce. Dating and courtship raise their hopes of being loved sky-high - but also their fears of being hurt and rejected. Being alone raises memories of lonely years in the postdivorce family and feels like the abandonment they dread. They’re trapped between the wish for love and fear of loss."

Against Wallerstein’s gloomy assessment, E. Mavis Hetherington, the author of For Better or Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, and Constance Ahrons, the author of We’re Still Family and The Good Divorce, pushed studies that argue that most grown children recover quickly and are as mentally stable as those from intact families.



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