Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study” as Want to Read:
The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  581 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Finally in paperback, the New York Times bestseller that has fundamentally changed the way children of divorce see themselves as adults--updated with a new preface by the author.

Divorce is at once a widespread reality and a painful decision, so it is no surprise that this landmark study of its long-term effects should both spark debate and find a large audience.

In this com
Paperback, 351 pages
Published September 19th 2001 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Shelves: nonfiction
Wallerstein provides observations regarding a group of children who experienced the traumatic impacts of parents' having a divorce.
Anne Hawn Smith
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Hit close to home. Divorce is the "gift" that keeps giving.
Brian Nwokedi
Mar 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Judith Wallerstein's research led her to a conclusion that flies in the face of what she calls our "divorce culture". She says that the foremost question couples contemplating divorce should ask themselves is - how will the children fare? She goes on to demonstrate that from the couple to the court system, children's needs and wishes aren't given a second thought. For example, under court ordered joint custody, children have disruptive schedules and routines as compared to intact families. Child ...more
Stephanie Holt
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book keeping in mind that it was published 15 years ago. I read it to learn more about the impact the divorce of my parents had on my own life. I found myself nodding my head plenty, recognizing my own experiences in the stories of the study participants. One section from the conclusions rang especially true for me, I quote it here "From the viewpoint of the children, and counter to what happens to their parents, divorce is a cumulative experience. Its impact increases over time and ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a unique book in that it is a longitudinal study of children of divorce. While it is exhaustive, the author does a good job of condensing what must have been a lot of notes from numerous interviews. Careful editing made it very readable. I recommend it to her target audience, (children of divorce), and parents who are considering divorce. Those adults whose childhoods were marked by divorce will find a therapist who is sympathetic to their experiences and supportive of hopeful outcomes. ...more
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a valuable and thought-provoking book, although difficult and often heartbreaking to read. Divorce is not just a temporary crisis for children... It is a life-changing event that affects them in multiple ways for the rest of their lives. Many adults believe that although a divorce may be traumatic for children in the short term, in the long run it's for the best if it means they no longer have to observe their parents in a miserable relationship.... However, this book challenges that be ...more
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book blew me away. It was riveting and taught me a lot. Dr. Wallerstein does not really profess her opinion on divorce, she reports her findings of studying over 200 people from divorced families over 25 years. She clearly supports marriage but there is a good reason. She sees what divorce does to people. I learned a lot about myself and that many other people from divorced families are just like me. Unmarried into their 30s and 40s, struggling with the concepts of relationships in general, ...more
Mar 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The most fascinating thing about this book for me in particular was how much I related with the kids discussed in this book and my parents never got divorced. I found my own thoughts put into words so many times that I had to start underlining passages (and I never mark my books). The studies in this book are insightful and while I don't agree with all of her proposed actions as a result of her findings, I agree with enough of them to wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone--not just anyone ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce
  • Ethnicity and Family Therapy
  • Mom's House, Dad's House: Making Two Homes for Your Child
  • The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection
  • Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain
  • Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem
  • Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine
  • Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods
  • The Family: A Christian Perspective On The Contemporary Home
  • The Man's Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the "Love Lab" About What Women Really Want
  • The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse
  • Modern Psychotherapies: A Conversation about Truth, Morality, Culture & a Few Other Things That Matter
  • Family Therapy Techniques
  • Love Busters: Overcoming the Habits That Destroy Romantic Love
  • Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach
  • Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction
  • Midlife Crisis at 30
  • The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work