By Jordan Weiker
Campus Life Assistant Editor
“Divorce now happens to one million children every year in the U.S.,” said Elizabeth Marquardt as she presented “Is There Any Such Thing as a ‘Good’ Divorce?” in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 8. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of Marriage and Family Life Diocese of La Crosse.
Marquardt is the director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values and the editor of FamilyScholars.org (where she also blogs).
Marquardt is also the author of “Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce.” The book was based on a study of grown children of divorce, and was the foundation for her Nov. 8 presentation.
She started her presentation with the fact that divorce rates continue to climb in the U.S.
“The divorce rates really began rising in the 1960s, and by the 1980s, one in two first marriages were failing,” said Marquardt. “My interest, though, has been how divorce affects the children of divorced parents.”
Marquardt’s research was the first conducted study of adult divorced parent children.
What Marquardt found in her research was that children of divorced parents were more likely to get divorces themselves.
They also had more of a struggle identifying themselves as they grew older, she said.
“Two-thirds of children from divorced parents said that after their parents divorced, their parents seemed to have different personalities,” said Marquardt. “This created a struggle in the developing of their own personalities and posed hardships in how they were to grieve the loss of a divorced parent.”
How will the former spouse of the deceased divorced parent react to the death, and how does this reaction affect how the child of the divorcees reacts to death?
“It poses deeper struggles in the already difficult process of accepting dying,” Marquardt said.
Marquardt argued that by being married, it’s the parents’ responsibilities to handle their conflicts.
“If the parents divorce, and they haven’t solved their conflict, the conflict becomes the child’s job to sort through,” Marquardt explained.
While Marquardt concluded that there may be times where divorce is “good” (domestic violence), she said that too often, married couples give up without trying to reconcile. Couples need to understand how to resolve problems within marriage.
She gave three common reasons why couples may be justifying a divorce. These reasons included: a lack of sex; unhappiness with their own lives; and the mentality that their children would still have two loving parents.
Marquardt argued that most problems like these are solvable though.
“What it really comes down to is kids care about their mother and father being there to support them.”