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Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce Paperback – September 26, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There's no such thing as a "good divorce," argues Marquardt, a scholar with the Institute for American Values. Divorce harms children for the rest of their lives, she says; it turns them into "little adults" who anxiously protect their fragile parents, instead of being protected, the way they are in "intact" families. Divorce forces children to guard parental secrets—protecting Mom by not telling Dad, or vice versa. At increased risk from pedophilic attacks (from their mothers' boyfriends or new husbands) and substance abuse, "children of divorce" may also feel alienated from organized religion, although Marquardt's survey finds them more likely to feel their spirituality strengthened by adversity. Marquardt says she's based her book on her own experiences as a child of divorce and on the results of a "nationally representative survey," yet her own bias strongly colors this work. Intact-family envy—the kids with parents sit in the front pews at church, while the children of divorce sit alone in the back, eyeing them; a 20-something Marquardt "sobbing" as she tries to decide which of her divorced parents will walk her down the wedding aisle—permeates this feisty tract.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Elizabeth Marquardt is the director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank focused on children, families, and civil society. Her essays and op-ed pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307237118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307237118
  • ASIN: 0307237117
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rarely read other reviews before writing my own, but in this case I was curious to see if earlier readers had expressed outrage at the author's premise. Response from readers to date appeared rather sympathetic to Ms. Marquandt, which suggested to me that this work may be reaching more childhood survivors of divorce than the perpetrators. I do wonder if the author is pleased with this apparent outcome, since her concluding remarks seem more directed toward adults in the contemplative stages of a divorce; the editing of the book does not necessarily serve that purpose.

I was surprised that a work of this nature was funded and promoted in the first place. Although ethical therapists have known of the psychological damage of divorce for years, who wanted to "make half of America feel guilty?" [particularly when many of those "guilty" are therapists themselves.] Apparently, the psychological abuse of divorced children just could not be ignored any longer. "Between Two Worlds" draws its intellectual meat from a study funded by the Lilly Foundation in 2001 and conducted by the Institute for American Values, for which the author serves as an affiliate scholar. Approximately 1500 adults participated in the written study, with the author interviewing about 70 participants for the narrative of the work. The statistical results of the study are presented in detail at the book's conclusion. The subjects were selected from a carefully defined cohort: at some point in their childhood the subjects' parents had divorced, and in their own subsequent adult lives the subjects had attained some measure of success, such as graduating from college or distinguishing themselves in business or the arts.
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Format: Hardcover
Between Two Worlds is a breathtaking book - well written, well-researched, and powerful. This Christmas I am going to buy a copy for each of my siblings, step-siblings, half-siblings, and all of my cousins who have divorced parents. Anyone who has contact with children should make this book REQUIRED READING. With divorce epidemic in our society, there is no doubt that many of these children have divorced parents. And married couples with children, especially those who are unhappy and contemplating divorce as an option, should read this book before making a final decision.
If you are a child of divorce, take a deep breath and prepare for some pain, but do read Between Two Worlds; you will find yourself writ large in this book of surpassing authority. This is no memoir - it is based on sound research, and draws from many sources to back up all general statements - but Ms. Marquardt uses the clever technique of writing in the first person plural, which gives the book an immediacy and depth no mere survey conclusions could approach.
I am a child of divorce, age 43 and happily married with three children. Until I read Between Two Worlds, not one single person in my entire experience (except other shell-shocked children of divorce) could believe or imagine what I went through, and so they didn't. And the children of divorce almost never talk about it because it is just too painful. It has taken me all the energy I have to create a positive life for myself and my children. I simply do not have the energy to re-examine the past. It's a good thing that Ms. Marquardt did, because it's about time people started to take a close look at how children feel about divorce. Maybe Between Two Worlds will be the turning point for our sociologists, psychologists, school counselors, etc.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up on a whim off the shelf, read it in two nights, and came out of it in a whole new place.

My parents divorced when I was 4 and my brother was 2. My father remarried but my mother never did. They both still live in the same town, as do I, yet I have been estranged from them for 2 years now with very little communication. I guess I want to reconcile with them, which may be why I still live in the same town, I am not really sure. Regardless we have had group therapy sessions from time to time to try to work this out but they never really go anywhere except circular frustration. I have tried to communicate with them on numerous occasions in both these sessions, informally, and in writing but with little success. I always felt like they never really understood. I kept telling them that I felt like I was stuck in the middle between them: taking care of my mother as a husband, getting frustrated with her for being helpless, feeling shamed for thinking her helpless, getting pissed at my dad for putting me in that position, thinking my mom was getting back at my dad through me by making me mad at him, then feeling guilty about thinking this about my mom, blowing them both off and acting out, and then back to taking care of mother and her feelings; around it went and still goes. This catch 22 is what I have tried to explain to them but then self-doubt comes and I feel I am overreacting. I tell myself that because the divorce was so long ago, and was what might be considered a "good" divorce, that I should be "over" it.

This has been lonely for me and I have recently realized this is not healthy. Yet I didn't know how to get on with my life without this confusion; being trapped in between.
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