New Findings on Children of Divorce

Dr. Judith Wallerstein A newly published book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, presents startling results from a study that closely followed 93 children of divorce over a quarter of a century. Co-authored by Julia M. Lewis, Sandra Blakeslee and Dr. Judith Wallerstein, it reports on the study, which used a comparison group of adults raised in intact families to reveal how adult children of divorce essentially view life differently from these peers.

The findings shed light on a question so many parents confront -- whether to stay unhappily married or divorce.

Dr. Wallerstein asks: How does divorce continue to shape the lives of young people once they reach full adulthood? And what are the consequences for all of us when 30 percent of people today between the ages of 18 and 40 grew up in divorced families? According to Dr. Wallerstein, we have created a “divorce culture.”

Facts and Figures
•One half of those marrying in the 1990s were getting married for the second time. In one of seven weddings, one or both partners were marrying for the third time.
•Eighty percent of divorces occur by the ninth year of marriage.
•Among the adult children of divorce in the study, 38 percent had children. In a comparison group of adult children from intact families, 61 percent had children.
•For persons between the ages of 28 and 43, figures show significantly higher divorce rates in people from divorced families compared to those from intact families.
•The use of drugs and alcohol before age 14 in Dr. Wallerstein’s children of divorce group stands at 25 percent. In the comparison group from intact families, the figure is 9 percent.

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