HarperOne (February 7, 2012)
Originally included in The Good Karma Divorce
a HarperOne select
“I love my children. I would never do anything to hurt them,” say parents. Operating under the illusion that love conquers all, most parents overwhelmingly believe that whatever behavior they engage in during their divorce, their children will get over in the long run. The belief in this myth appears to give parents license to behave any way their urges dictate. It is almost as if being in pain means they can break the rules.
This belief is at least part of the reason that children coming from those families that make up at least 50 percent divorce rate have been negatively and indelibly stamped. The result of long-term studies of children of divorce done by Dr. Judith Wallenstein, author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, have shown that, as adults, two out of three children of divorce decide not to have children on their own. The reasons given range from: they would not want to be the kind of parents they had, to they would not know how to parent and thought they would have little talent for it, to if their marriage ended in divorce their children might go through the same horrible experience they had.
I call this an epidemic, because according to this research a primary reason for marriage (to have children) no longer exist as it did in the past. What is wrong with this picture? Can it be true that so many children are being damaged when their parents often mean so well? I began to search for the disconnect between parents’ hearts and their behavior that could account for this disturbing trend.