Book: “For Better Or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered”

Recently, I finished reading For Better Or For Worse:  Divorce Reconsidered by E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly.  I am such a freaking nerd about this stuff!  I’m supposed to be reading some sort of juicy fiction in my spare time… but no, here I am filling my mind with literature which chronicles a 20-year study on My Favorite Topic.

So… for other nerds out there who like scientific-study-type-stuff, this is a great read.  Ms. Hetherington studied divorced families for a full twenty years post-paperwork and her findings were quite interesting.  She used various methods to gather information:  interviews, journals, tests etc.  And she found a variety of outcomes for the parents as well as the children who came from “broken homes”.

The book details the many factors which can influence an individual:  a support system, educational opportunities, individual attitudes, assistance resources, authoritative parenting, permissive parenting, school districts- and more.  In the end, Ms. Hetherington was able to segment the individuals according to how far they’d come and how satisfied they were with their lives.  She wrote about the different paths people took, the effects of new partners and the ultimate outcome of the children (really, it wasn’t too bad 🙂 ).  And through it all, she kept it interesting by telling data-supporting stories about her subjects.

I’d suggest this piece for anyone facing a divorce and concerned about the possible negative effects- it’s full of great insights.  But… like I said, it’s rooted in fact-finding.  There is no emotional hand-holding-through-a-difficult-time component.  Therefore, for someone facing a divorce and wrestling with surging emotional currents… it might be a little tough to plod through.

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  1. I read about this book somewhere else — I’m an adult child of divorce (VERY happy when that happened, by the way), plus I just like stuff like this. It makes perfect sense that there are so many factors that come into play. I think by and large, MOST people are resilient and deal. They deal with the things life throws at them and — if they confront the problems, instead of burying them, they thrive. (I will say divorce is WAY different than a death. I think that haunts a child, forever. Don’t mean to be a downer, but I do think that’s much more life-altering than a divorce.) Evinda Lepins (she has a Chicklit Power website I enjoy) has written a book with a character going through divorce and subsequent dating and single parenting — all that stuff that happens post-divorce. And the character — like Evinda herself — has to decide, finally, do I come to terms with the junk from the past or continue on in bad decisions and heartbreak? It’s called “The Men In and Out of her Life;” — it’s not out yet but she has an excerpt posted on her site.

    • I agree that most people are resilient- and many individuals overcome obstacles far greater than divorce. I think the societal stigma plays a significant role in making divorce so difficult. If it were viewed as just another fact of life, we could treat it as just another fact of life- instead of something with which we associate shame and poor parenting.

      Thank you for sharing information about this upcoming novel.

  2. Pingback: For Better or Worse…which is it? « DivorcingEve's Blog

  3. I have a group of women friends who get together probably 3, 4 times a year. (Just saw them last night, which is probably why this sticks in my head so much.) Some work in our school district, and said, once, “well, there are so many single parents,” as shorthand for that’s why this particular group of kids was such a handful. Now, one of the members of the group IS a single parent — though her kids were in high school when her husband left her. None of the other people were talking about her, but she told me later she took great offense. So I understand completely what you mean about the social stigma. That’s such a shame, and so unnecessary.

    • As a child of divorced parents, I find that remark somewhat offensive as well. I think my parents’ divorce and the single status of my mom drove me to be more mature and responsible- not the opposite.

  4. One book I have just read in my “post divorce phase” is Deal Breakers by Bethany Marshall. I am finding it helpful as I step (a bit hesitatingly) into the dating world. I haven’t been in that world since I was in my twenties and now, facing it in my forties, it feels like such a different ball game. Partly I am trying to be so much conscious about it…. I just wrote two posts, one about a dating deal breaker that happened to me last week and one as a follow up to that, about my efforts to learn from the experience, to learn more about what my deal breakers are, and to see that I CAN set boundaries and uphold them.

    What do you think? Did you run into this kind of thing while dating in your post divorce phase?

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