In 1979, sociologist Ahrons randomly selected 98 pairs of divorced parents in Wisconsin for a five-year study. As she reported in 1994's The Good Divorce
, while everyone handles the divorce process differently, "divorce doesn't destroy families," even if it rearranges and expands them to embrace new members. This reassuring viewpoint has been attacked by researchers like Judith Wallerstein, who argue that divorce's damage may not appear for a decade or more, when ACODs (adult children of divorce) struggle unsuccessfully to bond with partners. In response, Ahrons went back to her original research panel to learn how their children fared. Her team managed to interview an astounding 90% of the original cohort's children. Approximately three-fourths of these 173 "children" (now 30-somethings) thought their parents' divorces were a good idea, and that parents and children were better off than if they'd stayed together. Their comments on what made a difference to them when their parents were divorcing are instructive. Kids are very tuned into-and upset by-parental warfare, so "how parents relate to each other" is key. Parents battle over joint custody schedules, oblivious to how stressful the transitioning between parents can be. Ahrons reminds parents it's not the quantity of time they spend with their child, but the quality of relationship they establish: reliability, consistency and genuine interest in their lives are what matter most to children. More prescriptive than descriptive, Ahrons's supportive guidebook should aid anyone trying to make a "good divorce" better.
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“A more nuanced picture of divorce, one that defies sound-bite conclusions.... Constance Ahrons is generous, wise and pragmatic.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Here is the REAL story of divorce for today’s rearranged families.” (Vicki Lansky, author of Divorce Book for Parents and It's Not Your Fault, KoKo Bear)
“With clarity and compassion, Dr. Ahrons presents solid research that gives us answers to the questions plaguing families and clinicians!” (Lois Braverman, President, American Family Therapy Academy and author of Women, Feminism, and Family Therapy)
“An astounding accomplishment! Filled with insights and advice....If you want the best for your children, read this book.” (Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Psychology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and author of Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond From a Vindictive Ex)
“Engaging, eminently readable...an important piece of social history that will be consulted by scholars for many years to come.” (Stephanie Coontz, author, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap)
“Ahrons, one of this country’s foremost authorities, offers sound advice about how divorcing couples can promote their children’s well-being.” (Steven Mintz, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History, University of Houston and author of Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life)
“With her long-term unbiased research, Ahrons shows that children can grow up secure and loved by both parents.” (Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Full Circles, Overlapping Lives)
“Required reading for those contemplating or recently or long-divorced; adult children; clergy, mental health practitioners, teachers and policy-makers.” (Evan Imber-Black, Ph.D. , Editor, Family Process and Director of the Center for Families and Health, Ackerman Institute for the Family)
”Insightful, wise and honest, this longitudinal study is an important addition to our understanding the family after divorce.” (Warren Farrell, Ph.D., author of Father and Child Reunion and Why Men Are the Way They Are)
“The voices of grown children are compelling,! Filled with practical advice for helping two household families tap into unanticipated strengths. (Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger)
“Without the usual stereotypes or biases, Ahrons documents the complexities of divorced families...and tells what works and what doesn’t.” (Pauline Boss, Professor, University of Minnesota and author of Ambiguous Loss)
“This book should be required reading for all divorcing and divorced parents and the professionals who work with them.” (Isolina Ricci, Ph.D., author, Mom's House, Dad's House)
“More prescriptive than descriptive, Ahrons’s supportive guidebook should aid anyone trying to make a ‘good divorce’ better.” (Publishers Weekly)