Judith Wallerstein

September 20, 2000

Judith Wallerstein may not look like a pioneer, but she is. Her pioneering work on the effects of divorce on children has forever changed our view of its impact. She demonstrated that there are long-term effects on children that affect them even in adulthood.

The title of her new book tells it all. It is called The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study. She has interviewed the children of divorce since 1971 in what has been nearly a 30-year longitudinal study of families in Marin County, California.

She has documented such things as a lack of role models, a longer adolescence, difficult stepfamily situation, greater substance abuse, and less social competence. Each of these is addressed in detail in her book.

Now she is not without her critics who believe she uses too much anecdotal evidence and believe she generalizes too much from her study. Wallerstein believes that her qualitative approach with in-depth profiles clearly documents the effects of divorce on children.

And the statistics of divorce are chilling. More than 1 million children a year have experienced parental divorce since 1970. One-quarter of Americans ages 18 to 44 are the adult children of divorce. Some 40 percent of all married adults in the 1990s have already been divorced.

Notice how divorce is changing America. Married couples with children represent only 26 percent of households. About 45 percent of new marriages will end in divorce. About 60 percent of remarriages will end that way. Divorce used to be rare, and now it's routine.

Due to the work of Judith Wallerstein, we now know the bleak legacy of divorce. It's a very sad picture indeed.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.