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Judith S. Wallerstein
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The Unexpected Legacy Of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  619 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
Check back soon to read more details about The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith S. Wallerstein.
Published (first published January 1st 2000)
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Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it to everyone, even if you don't think it could possibly have anything to do with your life. The fact is, divorce is such an overwhelmingly prevalent part of our society now, and our culture, and a lot of us are working with some serious misconceptions about just what its full implications are, especially for children. People who grew up with divorced parents will find this book both validating and troubling. People who work with divorced familie ...more
Apr 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
basically it goes like this:
people had a theory that divorce wasn't so bad for the kids.
apparently it's pretty bad for the kids.
so much so that, psychologically in later years, people are still dealing with their feelings.
these feelings come in systematic packages.
to wit: difficulty having faith in the endurance of relationships.
i confirm all the above, but unfortunately the substance of this book is about enough to fill a NYT mag article. so many nonfiction books are like that! read the firs
Aug 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extremely interesting, sometimes harrowing, book about the issues that children of divorce commonly face. Seeing some of my own angst so clearly described on the page was scary at times, but also eye-opening. I'm still a little freaked out, but I've been recommending this to everyone I know whose parents are divorced. Maybe we can make our own children's lives a little better.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-sciences
Read this book. If you're divorced, read it. If you're thinking about getting divorced, read it. If you're the child of divorced parents, read it. If you're married to a child of divorced parents like I am, read it. Honestly, if there's one issue that looms like an 800 lb gorilla in our culture today, it's the way marriage and family has fallen apart, been shifted, reassembled and redefined. The ramifications of the social upheaval of the family absolutely underlie *everything*. I honestly belie ...more
Four and a half stars. I borrowed this from my sister in law and am going to have to buy her a new copy, I've thumbed it so well these past two months. I took a college writing course my senior year of high school and the concluding project was a 25 page term paper. I chose the topic of how divorce affected children. My parents had divorced some years previously and at that time I knew very few people who were divorced. I had to dig much harder than I thought I would to find enough source materi ...more
May 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Wallerstein and her colleagues run a family counseling practice in Marin County, and this book presents several case studies of children whose families were divorced 25 years ago -- hence the 25 year landmark -- to try to chart out the long-term future that children from divorced families might be expected to face. Unfortunately, the case studies and conclusions presented in this book were either composites or otherwise drawn from the population that came through Wallerstein's practice, and, as ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to me by a grown child of divorce as a key to understanding so many of his own hang-ups and difficulties in starting a family of his own, I couldn't help but find this an important read. Wallerstein advocates beautifully for the children of divorce whose rights, needs, and wishes are set aside by angry, distracted and/or overburdened parents and the bureaucracy of the courts. She makes a good case that children do not recover easily from their breaking up from their family and can ta ...more
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting and insightful. The author followed families that had divorced for 25 years and compared them against a group of families in similar situations but didn't divorce. The effect of divorce on young children right through the effect on their development into adulthood was reported.

This book should be required reading for any parent thinking about divorce. The author is very balanced but realistic about the effects. She also gives advice for how to handle telling your
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had promised a friend who is in collage that I would read this book and write a report on it since it was on her sociology professor's list. I don't like parenthood, and scares the crap out of me, or maybe I should say that I don't see myself fit to do it. but I personally think that this book should be a requirement for people who want to have children or those who already do and are planning on temporary separation or divorce. it's describes the whole situation and it's effects and aftermath ...more
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greg recently downloaded this book that my sister-in-law, Mackenzie, recommended. Because it was about the impact of divorce on the kids in the family, I wanted it all to reflect me and my experience. There were some things that did (like the divorced parent taking center stage instead of the kid being her own center stage in her own life or not getting much financial support for college) and some things that didn't (like becoming the care-taker for a parent or getting lost in sex and drug addic ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was informative, to be sure. If nothing else, it alerted me to the ways that divorce affects children which, of course, should be of paramount concern when one considers whether or not to divorce a spouse. However, this book is, specifically, about the effects of divorce on children, not the effects upon the divorcing parents. It is not a book about whether the decision to divorce is a right or wrong one and the author makes no attempt to offer an opinion about the importance of a divo ...more
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I began this book, a poem appeared in my inbox:

Alicia Ostriker, 1937

My neighbor’s daughter has created a city
you cannot see
on an island to which you cannot swim
ruled by a noble princess and her athletic consort
all the buildings are glass so that lies are impossible
beneath the city they have buried certain words
which can never be spoken again
chiefly the word divorce which is eaten by maggots
when it rains you hear chimes
rabbits race through its suburbs
the name of the city is one you ca
Xavier (CharlesXplosion)
The unexpected legacy of divorce is a longitudinal study following children of divorced parents. In this book, we get a multitude vignettes and overarching findings that illustrate the effects of divorce. A lot of these elements serve to really hone and explore the unseen trauma of children that have been affected by divorce.

Even though this is non-fiction, it isn't dry. It was engaging and very emotional at times. I think this a book that everyone should read at some point especially if you are
Carol Simpson
This is GROWN UP reading. Unfortunately, in spite of their chronological age, most of the folks who need to read this lack the maturity. This is based on a 25-year longitudinal study. As another commenter stated, this book presents "harrowing" findings.

To paraphrase Flannery O'Connor (I think), the truth does change based on our ability to stomach it.

If we want to help children affected by divorce, the first step is to acknowledge how they and our society are impacted.
Kelly Rickert
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well-written Book about the lasting effects of Divorce on children. I have been a family law litigator for 20 years, and I am profoundly saddened every day by my profession. Every day, I see parents who are so consumed by their need for revenge that they don’t see or care about their children. Like puppets, they say “This is in their best interests!” When what they mean is “this is in MY best interests.” They are in a bad place and what they need are compassionate and wise family lawyers who enc ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a person from an "intact" family, this book has been immensely helpful in understanding where my husband is coming from as a "child of divorce". The authors articulate what is so often inarticulate for the ones who truly suffer from the catastrophe of divorce - the child(ren).

Even though the authors show how damaging divorce is to children, I was disappointed that they didn't necessarily condemn divorce in non-extreme cases. Instead, they provide ways for those seeking a divorce to construct
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy book to read for those of us in the "divorce generation," but potentially life changing. Taken in small doses, like medicine, one can slowly build up one's tolerance for the sweet cleansing pain of the truth. Wallerstein interviewed the children of divorce for 25 years, in 5 year intervals as they moved into adulthood. Meticulously researched, and written with the deepest understanding and compassion. I wish Wallerstein had continued to follow her "children," because I'm very curious ...more
Jeanine Johnson
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Admittedly, I’ve tiptoed past Wallerstein’s “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce” for years since my parents divorced and ignorance is bliss. Now that I’ve finally read it, it definitely resonated with my childhood experience. It clarifies how the divorce culture is impacting society in unexpected ways. Sometimes divorce can’t be avoided, but regardless of why it happens, Wallerstein and team show it’s a cumulative experience for kids that rises to a crescendo in their adulthood having affected the ...more
Ian Spier
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for children of divorce, parents in process of divorce, parents who are contemplating one, the friends of people thus affected, and for people who have not not given enough thought to conflict resolution skills, courtship, and choosing who is best for both ourselves and the kids. I wish I had known about this book 18 years ago ! A groundbreaking and worthy study that explained in detail why, despite my determination and effort, life has been such an uphill battle !
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me a while to get into but once I did, I enjoyed learning about the ramifications of divorce; How it affects children and even more so, how it affects those same children once they become adults. Wallerstein did a 25 year study and each point she made was based off of a specific case study. It was interesting to see the lives of these people change over the 25 years compared to people from non-divorced families. As a society that has an overwhelmingly large amount of divorce, this is a ...more
Sara Blehm
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deeply painful.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Please read this book if you are divorced, or considering it, or decided not to divorce in the past. It is a long term study of the children of parents who divorced and how it affected them 5, 10, 15 and even 25 years later. If you are divorced it will give you insight into your children's thinking, and how to better handle any problems that arise. If you are considering divorce, it will help you to weigh the consequences. If you are in an intact marriage, you may conclude whether you made the r ...more
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Wallerstein provides observations regarding a group of children who experienced the traumatic impacts of parents' having a divorce.
Anne Hawn Smith
This was an incredible and very surprising book. The author did a longitudinal study of divorces using matched families with similar structure and comparing them to families where the behavior was similar, but the parents did not divorce. I thought the study was well documented and the book was extremely readable. It is important for counselors, teachers, and especially people who are contemplating divorce. The results of this study were startling and contrary to what we usually see in print, bu ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hit close to home. Divorce is the "gift" that keeps giving.
Brian Nwokedi
My big revelation from this book is the "waiting for the other shoe to drop" feeling and the constant feeling of walking on eggshells that children of divorce bring into their adult relationships.

I was unaware that children of divorce constantly feel as though their adult relationships can crumble at anytime, a direct result of the insecurity that the trauma of divorce caused. This avoidance of conflict is something that I have experienced first hand with past significant others but haven't bee
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book at the urging of my husband, who is a child of divorce. It was really fascinating and insightful, but I feel like I can't talk to anyone about it. My parents are still happily married after recently celebrating their 30th anniversary, so what the heck do I know about divorce or being the child of it?

The book was written after the researcher, Dr. Wallerstein, corresponded with a previous study subject who was herself a child of divorce. She had been a subject in a previous study
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enlightening. I highly recommend it for children of divorce, partners for divorced children, educators, parents, court workers, people contemplating was eye opening. I agree that more needs to be done to change how we see family and the impact of divorce. I'm not sure the schools can take on more of the family role than they already do-really this needs to be taught in the home. But I do agree as an educator that I would love more workshops on dealing with children of divorce-many o ...more
Kate Schwarz
A sobering, invaluable read.

I read this as a child of divorce, to better understand myself and the so-called baggage I bring to adulthood. As many introverts have said that the book Quiet really spoke to them, this book spoke to me, though my parents divorced when I was a senior in high school, so I escaped the custody battles and had a very stable childhood. In many, many ways, I was and am lucky. Reading this book made me realize that, in comparison, I am very lucky to have had the divorce exp
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was packed full of awesome information. And when I say packed...I mean packed, the book barely had margins.

The basic premise is that children of divorce often have latent and unforeseen problems in interpersonal relationships due to their parent's divorce. A recurring theme is that children whose parents who are providing them a good, supportive and nurturing home might be better off if their parents remained unhappily married vs. getting a divorce and throwing their world into an upro
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