Remembering Judith Wallerstein: Adult Children of Divorce Researcher
Updated: Mar 24, 2019
Two years ago this week, Psychologist Judith Wallerstein passed away. She was considered, by many, as the ultimate authority on the effects of divorce on children. Her book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study was released, in the year 2000, to great fanfare. *
Challenging the prevailing views on divorce, she dared to make the heretical claim that a parents’ divorce was not just a bump in the child’s life. Quite the contrary, the trauma continued to affect them well into their adulthood.
In a Huffington Post interview, Ms. Wallerstein said, “… the effects of divorce really crescendo when the kids are in late adolescence and entering young adulthood. They were angry and compassionate at the same time about their parents. And almost all of them had trouble in their relationships with the opposite sex. They were very suspicious of anything lasting, and they expected to be betrayed. One young woman said, ‘If my boyfriend is 20 minutes late, I wonder who he’s with.’ So for many of them, their twenties were the hardest years of their life, because they all wanted what their parents hadn’t had: love, and a family that would last.” **
”For many of them, their twenties were the hardest years of their life, because they all wanted what their parents hadn’t had: love, and a family that would last”– Judith Wallerstein
I was heavy-hearted learning of Ms. Wallerstein’s death. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce was the first book I read on this topic. Page after page raised issues that challenged my long held belief that my folk’s divorce was an irritation, but nothing more. A bevy of facts, combined with my personal experiences, confirmed the truth of her research—my parent’s divorce was still impacting me.
Prior to this revelation I’d say, “My parents’ divorce happened a long time ago. Why bring it up when there’s nothing I can do to about it?” But now I’d been exposed to amazing information that created an insatiable hunger to learn more. God used the resulting journey to birth this ministry. and my passion to offer seminars, teachings, and other resources that can help adults with divorced parents avoid the generational cycle of divorce.
This book changed the trajectory of my life. My commitment is to continue carrying the torch of truth Wallerstein lit.
* Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study1(New York, New York, Hyperion). ** Katie Hafner, “Q&A With Divorce Doyenne Judith Wallerstein”, November 13, 2010 11:04 AM Huffington Post.