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A Generation of Divorce Testifies to the Importance of Marriage
Posted By Collette Caprara On July 13, 2011 @ 11:15 am In Family and Religion | 4 Comments
In a snapshot summary  of her memoir  released on Tuesday, In Spite of Everything, Susan Gregory Thomas gives a firsthand account of what remains of children and parents after the devastation of divorce. Thomas presents a vivid portrait of the children of divorce in her neighborhood who, with her, wandered as “sad-eyed, bruised nomads.”
Decades of research underscore the truth of Thomas’ anecdotal account and the plight and trajectories of those lonely children. Adolescents who do not live in intact families are more likely to engage in substance abuse , exhibit behavioral problems , have poor academic performance,  and engage in risky behavior, including becoming sexually active  at an early age. In addition, children who do not live with both parents are more likely to experience psychological and emotional  problems, ranging from low levels of social competence and self-esteem to anxiety and depression.
Like others who grew up at the peak of the divorce culture, Thomas vowed she would never inflict the same pain on her own children. Yet, regardless of intentions and resolutions, statistics show that children tend to follow the marital trajectory  of their parents. Children who have experienced parental divorce tend to experience more problematic and less rewarding marriages and are more likely to divorce. In fact, even the divorce of grandparents  has been linked to a greater likelihood of third-generation divorce.
As Thomas notes, adult children who have experienced the “torture of a split family” often attempt to ensure the stability of their future marriages by testing the waters with a period of cohabitation. She cites that nearly 60 percent of couples who entered a first marriage in the early 2000s had previously cohabited, as she had done. However, statistics reveal that this intended failsafe is in fact a failure: Couples who cohabit  before marriage are more likely to separate and less likely to reconcile after a separation, more likely to experience infidelity, and more likely to subsequently divorce, as Thomas did.
As a last ray of hope, Thomas clings to the notion of post-divorce mediation and joint custody to buffer children from a contentious litigation process. Yet more effective and long-range options are possible. For example, a combination of policy reforms and public education to promote  strong marriages may help to save a next generation from the minefields of marital dissolution.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/07/13/a-generation-of-divorce-testifies-to-the-importance-of-marriage/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.foundry.org/wp-content/uploads/divorce-couple-marriage-split.jpg
 memoir: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/196508/in-spite-of-everything-by-susan-gregory-thomas
 Image: http://www.foundry.org/wp-content/uploads/divorce-familyfacts-2004-data.jpg
 substance abuse: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/familyfacts/briefs/FF_Brief_24.pdf
 behavioral problems: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/familyfacts/briefs/FF_Brief_26.pdf
 academic performance,: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/familyfacts/briefs/FF_Brief_35.pdf
 sexually active: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/familyfacts/briefs/FF_Brief_36.pdf
 psychological and emotional: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/familyfacts/briefs/FF_Brief_34.pdf
 marital trajectory: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/familyfacts/briefs/FF_Brief_39.pdf
 grandparents: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1024&context=sociologyfacpub
 cohabit: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/familyfacts/briefs/FF_Brief_9.pdf
 promote: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2010/pdf/Solutions_8.pdf
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