I notice that an American reality TV show about divorce called Untying the Knot is now on Australian television. It seems to have aired in the US for a few years, and we now have the pleasure of having to endure it. So this is where we have come to as a culture…
If a group of malevolent Martians wanted to destroy Western civilisation at its most fundamental and basic level, there would be various places to launch an attack. But perhaps the most crucial focal point would be marriage and family. And long before fake homosexual marriage came along, the West did a great job of destroying itself by means of no-fault divorce.
The downsides of easy divorce have been documented for decades now. Those who wanted to stay and make the marriage work are among the big losers. So often they are men, who not only lose their wives, but lose all contact with their children.
Stephen Baskerville has been writing about this for decades now. His 2007 book, Taken into Custody, looked at how men especially are savaged by biased family law courts. And his new book, The New Politics of Sex, is a must-read expose of the politicisation of all things having to do with sex.
As to no-fault divorce, Baskerville says it was “a deception from the start.” He continues:
What lawmakers and the public were told would permit divorce by mutual consent in fact allowed unilateral and involuntary divorce: divorce that was not only without the consent or over the objections of an innocent spouse, but that forced the innocent spouse to bear the burden of the costs and consequences. In retrospect, it was nothing less than the boldest social and legal experiment ever undertaken in the Western democracies: the end of marriage as a legally enforceable contract, or what Maggie Gallagher called the “abolition of marriage.” Today it is not possible to form a binding agreement to create a family.
But children of course are also huge losers here. And this is the saddest part of all concerning the divorce revolution. They suffer enormously when their parents divorce. This has also been documented for quite some time now. As but one example, Judith Wallerstein studied the lives of such children over decades. It does not look good.
See her three important volumes: Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope with Divorce;Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce; and The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. I offer full details below of these books. And see one of my reviews: billmuehlenberg.com/2000/09/15/a-review-of-the-unexpected-legacy-of-divorce-by-judith-wallerstein/
The research – and the horror stories – have not let up since then. Let me draw your attention to two new resources. One is a brand new article entitled “How My Parents’ Divorce Ruined Our Holidays And Family Life Forever”. The anonymous author lets it all hang out, and it makes for depressing reading. It begins:
December always reminds me how much I hate divorce. As the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle while we wrap presents, I am anxious about family gatherings and travel plans. Three decades ago, when my parents divorced, family Christmas gatherings became very complicated.
My parents’ divorce is the one that their generation was told to have. Like many others married in the 1970s, their marriage ended with a no-fault divorce. One of them wasn’t happy and felt the only way to solve that was not to be married anymore. In the name of fulfillment and contentment, our family broke apart.
Since I married, I’ve prayed that my husband and I will grow old together; that we will be quick to forgive, slow to anger, and not keep a record of wrongs against each other. We are sinners who need to give and accept grace if we are going to pass on a legacy to our children of love and faithfulness in our marriage. I have no disillusionment that I am somehow above divorce. But may God save me — and my husband and children — from ever having to suffer on that road.
I am terrified by the statistic that adults who come from divorced families are more likely to divorce than those whose parents remained married. Not surprisingly, both of my parents come from divorced homes. My mom once told me the two greatest hurts in her life are her divorce and her parents’ divorce.
When my children were small, I thought all of the grandparents would like a photo calendar of the children for Christmas. I put together the best pictures from the first three years of their lives. When I flipped through the pages, I realized I couldn’t give it to my parents. One of the pictures had my mom and stepdad in it. Another one had my real dad. Everyone would be offended. I kept the calendars, and a day later I bought everyone generic gift cards and a box of chocolates.
That Christmas I gave out lame presents that should have been something so much more personal and delightful, and I had to do it twice because that’s how a divorced family does Christmas. You pretend everything is jolly even though at every gathering some of your family are missing. You establish new traditions and memories that exclude some of the most important people in your life. And no one wants to know that even though you’re fine, you really think it stinks.
But she is certainly not alone in such experiences. There are millions of children of divorce who have similar stories to tell. There are so many such stories that full-length books can only contain a small sampling of them. One such collection of sad tales is found in a new book edited by Leila Miller.
It contains stories of children who are now adults, and have experienced the hells of growing up with parental divorce. When Miller mentioned on the social media her desire to hear people tell their stories, she had a hundred responses in the first few days. More followed.
This book features 70 of them and their tales of woe. One’s heart breaks after reading just the first few pages of these tragic tales, and there are 250 pages to go through. It is impossible to pick out a few good representative quotes – the book is filled with pathos and tear-jerking testimonies. Let me offer just one:
It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. But worse yet is your desire to “move on” and pretend that my first family never existed, and that half of me no longer exists. You take the photos of the other half of my family tree down, and you imagine I don’t notice or care. I do notice, and I do care. That’s half of me; that family really did exist, and it is important to me. Just because you want to move on doesn’t give you the right to erase half my family. First families matter!
All these now grownup children are invisible people, as Miller reminds us. They are not supposed to exist, because divorce is supposed to be such a wonderful thing, and kids are supposed to be so resilient. These are all lies. With a few exceptions, children grieve terribly and for many decades – even for life – when their parents divorce.
No-fault divorce “is one of the lynchpins of the Sexual Revolution” as Jennifer Roback Morse puts it in her foreword to Miller’s book. The truth is, it has been one of the most diabolical and dangerous social experiments ever foisted upon us.
Those Martians were right to select this as their primary weapon of mass destruction to unleash on the West. It has been devastating, and still the children weep…
Divorce and its impact on children – further reading:
Baskerville, Stephen, The New Politics of Sex. Angelico press, 2017.
Baskerville, Stephen, Taken into Custody. Cumberland House, 2007.
Gallagher, Maggie, The Abolition of Marriage. Regnery, 1996.
Garfinkel, Irwin and Sara McLanahan, Single Mothers and Their Children: A New American Dilemma. Washington: Urban Institute, 1986.
McLanahan, Sara and Gary Sandefur, Growing up with a Single Parent. Harvard University Press, 1994.
Marquardt, Elizabeth, Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce. Crown Publishers, 2005.
Medved, Diane, The Case Against Divorce. Ivy Books, 1989.
Miller, Leila, ed., Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. LCB Publishing, 2017.
Wallerstein, Judith and Joan Kelly, Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope with Divorce. Basic Books, 1980.
Wallerstein, Judith and Sandra Blakeslee, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce. Bantam Press, 1989.
Wallerstein, Judith, Julia Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. Hyperion, 2000.
Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe, The Divorce Revolution. Knopf, 1997.
Weitzman, Lenore J., The Divorce Revolution: The Unexpected Social and Economic Consequences for Women and Children in America. Free Press, 1985.
Weitzman, Lenore J., and Mavis Maclean, eds., Economic Consequences of Divorce. Clarendon Press, 1992.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.