Saturday, April 19, 2008

Divorce Generation Grows Up - In the News

Most of my blogs have been about divorce from the divorce professional’s point of view. There is an excellent cover story by David J. Jefferson in the April 12, 2008 issue of Newsweek entitled "Divorce Generation Grows Up" which discussed divorce from the child’s point of view. See the entire article at Jefferson makes many of the following useful observations:
"The change had begun in the '60s as the myth of the nuclear family exploded, and my generation was caught in the fallout. The women's rights movement had opened workplace doors to our mothers—more than half of all American women were employed in the late '70s, compared with just 38 percent in 1960—and that, in turn, made divorce a viable option for many wives who would have stayed in lousy marriages for economic reasons. Then in 1969, the year I entered kindergarten, Gov. Ronald Reagan signed California's "no fault" divorce law, allowing couples to unilaterally end a marriage by simply declaring "irreconcilable differences. Not since Henry VIII's breakup with the pope has divorce received such a boost."
"I have watched divorce morph from something shocking, even shameful, into a routine fact of American life."

"As their parents remarried, my classmates were left to negotiate the thicket of resentments that crop up between spouses and their exes, children and their stepparents."

"As they witnessed their parents' pain, many of my friends took on emotional burdens well beyond their years. But my generation was trained in the art of having to move from relationship to relationship. It begins when the judge determines custody and the children start shuttling between parents."

"Another ugly side effect, according to the research, is that divorce can be passed from generation to generation, like some kind of genetic defect, with children of divorce becoming divorcés themselves. Other classmates chose to avoid marriage altogether."

"In many ways, the urge to stay married is stronger in my classmates' generation than the urge to get divorced was in my parents'. Perhaps this was a backlash to divorce; maybe it was the result of reaching marrying age just as President Reagan's New Conservatism was shaping the social order. Whatever the cause, my married classmates seem more clear-eyed than their '50s forebears. "Every honest couple will tell you that it's hard sometimes," says Josh Gruenberg, who became a lawyer and now lives in San Diego with his wife and three kids (his parents divorced in 1992). "You have to compromise, and it takes work," says Ruth Kreusch, an intellectual-property paralegal."

"Despite the complications and the collateral damage, my friends from Grant class of '82 seem to agree that the divorces in their lives—both their parents' and their own—were probably for the best." "Most don't think ill of their folks for having split up. "As a child I felt like I was a victim of my circumstances, a victim of the divorce," says Deborah Cronin. "But as an adult I learned that my parents were just two people who met each other, fell in love, had children, and it didn't work out. They were 18 and 19 years old when they met. They were young kids having kids." It seems that along with the crow's feet and expanding waistlines of middle age, my classmates and I have acquired an acceptance of our parents and their life choices. Some of us have even found healing. "My parents were good people," Tonju Francois told me the other day. "And good people get divorced, too." If I've learned anything from my walk down memory lane, it's that Divorce Generation has grown up."

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