There's no 'good' divorce - The Boston Globe

There's no 'good' divorce - The Boston Globe
Many experts and parents embrace the idea, confident that it's not divorce itself that harms children but simply the way that parents divorce. If divorced parents stay involved with their child and don't fight with each other, they say, then children will be fine.

There's only one problem. It's not true.

In a first-ever national study, the grown children of divorce tell us there's no such thing as a ''good" divorce. This nationally representative telephone survey of 1,500 young adults, half from divorced families and half from intact families -- supplemented with more than 70 in-person interviews conducted around the country -- reveals that any kind of divorce, whether amicable or not, sows lasting inner conflict in children's lives.

The interpretation of this survey in such a way (my emphasis) neglects several crucial points (speaking as a reasonably happy child of moderately amicably divorced parents) the most salient of which is the assumption of human mental equilibrium that is natural and can only be disturbed. Children's lives are complicated and influenced by many factors. By focusing just on the results of divorce it is not surprising that effects are found. It would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. The question is not 'is the divorce having an effect that is not hugely positive' but 'does divorce cause lasting irreparable damage from which only negative can be derrived?' I wonder is research designed with this focus (e.g. asking what were the benefits of your parents' divorce) might bring quite different results.

Only a small minority of grown children of divorce -- just one-fifth -- say their parents had a lot of conflict after their divorce, but the conflict between their parents' worlds did not go away. Instead, the tough job of making sense of their parents' different beliefs, values, and ways of living became the child's job alone.
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Many grown children of divorce told us they rose to the challenge by becoming a different person with each of their parents.

This of course is perfectly natural for children to do. From a very different age children have to learn to 'code-switch' there are even those (and not an insubstantial number) who speak a different language to each parent. Multiple identies is what we are not some aberrant form of schizophrenia. No doubt, divorce makes things difficult for children but so does going to school (or being in a famine) or finding new friends. All of these demand the development of new identities and is inherently stressful (witness the Buffy the Vampire Slayer - high-school is hell - motto). Again, a broader issue of psychological causality (my favorite theme) is relevant here.

Today, one-quarter of young adults are from divorced families. Their message to our society is clear: Divorce is sometimes necessary, but for children there is no such thing as a ''good" divorce.

And this implication of a societal impact is even more questionable.