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   Home  > Books

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce

By Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, Sand


A landmark cultural event that will change the way we look at divorce, Judith Wallerstein's 25-year study reveals, for the first time, the effects on children through adulthood, marriage, and their own parenthood.

Twenty-five years ago, Judith Wallerstein began talking to a group of 131 children whose parents were all going through a divorce. From those conversations have come two bestsellers, Surviving the Breakup and Second Chances. Now the third volume of this longitudinal study, The unexpected Legacy of Divorce brings all of her research up to the present and shows for the first time how children are affected by divorce long into adulthood.

The experiences and anxieties of this generation of children, now in their late twenties to early forties, come to life 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 code of behavior in a culture that does virtually nothing to guide them. Wallerstein shows how many overcome their dread of betrayal to find loving partners and to become loving, 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.

Using a comparison group of adults who grew up in the same communities but whose parents never divorced, Wallerstein shows how adult children of divorce essentially view life differently from their peers raised in reasonably good intact homes, and also sheds light on the question that 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, people living with adult children of divorce, divorced parents or those considering divorce, judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals. The release of this powerful, provocative, and often moving book is a genuine publishing event.

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