Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Messy or not, divorce is hard on kids, survey finds

From the San Francisco Chronicle, of all places
Even in a so-called good divorce, in which parents amicably minimize their conflicts, children inhabit a more difficult emotional landscape than those who grow up with married parents, according to a new survey of 1,500 adults ages 18-35.

"All the happy talk about divorce is designed to reassure parents," said Elizabeth Marquardt, author of the study, which is described in her new book, "Between Two Worlds." "But it's not the truth for children. Even a good divorce restructures children's childhoods and leaves them traveling between two distinct worlds. It becomes their job, not their parents', to make sense of those two worlds."

[…]For example, those who grew up in divorced families were far more likely than those with married parents to say that they felt like a different person with each parent, that they sometimes felt like outsiders in their own home and that they had been alone a lot as a child.

Those with married parents, however, were far more likely to say that children were at the center of their family and that they generally felt emotionally safe.

[…]Given the political overtones, many scholars who study family diversity have been concerned that focusing on how divorce hurts children could lead to legislative attempts to restrict the availability of divorce.

"The key is to separate pain from pathology," said Robert Emery, director of the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the University of Virginia. "While a great many young people from divorced families report painful memories and ongoing troubles regarding family relationships, the majority are psychologically normal," Emery said.

Once again, we had to have someone do a study and write a book to figure out what anyone with an ounce of common sense already knew. Our capacity to delude ourselves into believing what we want to be true is close to infinite.

I love the last sentence – they may be in pain and unable to form good relationships, but hey! That’s psychologically normal! Looking around, I guess by our modern, liberated American standards, it is psychologically normal. In the country of the blind, it’s the man who can see that’s the abnormal one.