Sandra Blakeslee, a colleague of Dr. Judith Wallerstein, recently wrote a tribute about that distinguished researcher, for Huffington Post. Dr. Wallerstein died in June at age 90. She had been noted as the person who spoke to more divorced couples and children than anyone else in research history. Her work concentrated on divorce and its impact on children. Dr. Wallerstein's findings are summed up as follows:
1. The effects of divorce on children are not transient or short-term. They are long-lasting. A child of divorce will always confront certain challenges in life.
2. Children need particular support, psychologically and emotionally, after their parents' divorce. Few get such services.
3. The age of the children of divorce matters greatly. Different ages present different challenges.
4. Stepchildren have their unique challenges.
Dr. Wallerstein did not present a hopeless dilemma. She found that a divorce that is undertaken "thoughtfully" can teach children a realistic approach to dealing with life's challenges. Dr. Wallerstein has been portrayed as a "tribal elder". Perhaps she should ultimately be remembered as one who saw problems others had glossed over. More importantly, she saw how those problems could be converted into learning experiences. Children of divorce need not become troubled adults as long as they learn proper and effective coping mechanisms. Who can lead the way for this to occur? Concerned and loving parents. In divorce, you will never give up your prior role with you ex-spouse as a co-parent. Consider how your divorce may impact your children. Do some research on the findings of Dr. Wallerstein. Your children may thank you for this, someday.
Martin Rosenfeld, A Fair Lawn family attorney and mediator, can be contacted at Rosenfeld@Juno.Com.