Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce
Elizabeth Marquardt


A generation of children of divorce has grown up. They have a story to tell. It's not the story you might find in books like E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly's For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, suggesting that divorce is not so bad for kids. It is also quite unlike cheery children's books like To & Fro, Fast & Slow, describing a child who goes back and forth from her dad's hip city apartment to her mother's idyllic country home.

According to Elizabeth Marquardt, being a child of divorce is more like being a football, kicked back and forth between two estranged parents and the worlds they inhabit with their conflicting rules, standards, and secrets. This is a heavy burden to bear, even in the "best" of divorces—a burden that shapes lives in subtle and pronounced ways. As the "little adults" in their families, these children understood that their role was to protect their parents by keeping silent, whether it was about long, lonely hours spent in empty apartments, dad's new girlfriend, or the sexual abuse that occasionally occurs in blended families.

In Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, these adult children finally speak. Marquardt, herself a child of divorce and an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values, draws from her own experiences and a study that she conducted with sociologist Norval Glenn, in which they surveyed 1,500 adult children from divorced and intact families and then interviewed 70 of them at length. They focused on college graduates because they wanted to understand how these reasonably successful adults—often cited as proof that divorce could be innocuous—had ...

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