Between two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, a new publishing tackling the eminent question of divorce and its consequences, reveals for the first time ever a national study, in shocking details, the dramatic moral, spiritual, and religious impact of divorce on children
With almost one in two first marriages now ending in divorce, Elizabeth Marquardt, a thirty-four year old graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School, draws on exclusive access to the first such study and personal experience to report on the first generation of young people to grow up in an era of widespread divorce.
Breaking the myth about a “good” and a “bad” divorce, she says “good” divorces often compare poorly even to children of unhappy marriages, and look much worse than children raised in happy marriages. Divorce confronts the child with the monumental task of having to make sense, alone, of the parents’ very different beliefs, values, and ways of living – a job the parents are no longer required to do.
These children come to feel like divided selves. They lead a wholly separate life in each parent’s world, leading over time to a troubling inner division that goes to the heart of their identity, they are less protected from their parents’ worries, feel less emotionally safe, are far less able to go to their parents for comfort, and are much more often left alone, and are forced to figure out the big questions in life alone because divorced parents often hold different moral views and no longer talk about those views together.
Concerning their religious education, they experience a loss of trust that affects their belief in God—making them overall much less religious than their peers from intact families, but for some dramatically strengthening their faith. They are less likely to have strong religious bases as prayer life, they Feel pain and loss evoked by the idea of God as a father or parent.
Elizabeth Marquardt is an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank focused on marriage, children, and civil society. She regularly appears on National Television Networks, and has published her articles in countless papers and magazines.