Elizabeth Marquardt, author of Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, has been lecturing at Centre College this week. This morning in my family class she offered an idea that I had not heard before.
In the old days, children of divorce were stigmatized. This sentiment is pretty much gone -- she says she never experienced it personally, and the students likewise do not tell me of any stigma they express or experience. The standard view is that it is not the child's fault. This is very sensible.
However, it is becoming widely known among people who study and talk about marriage that children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves. This is so despite the fact that divorced kids usually hate divorce, and vow not to inflict it on their own children.
Hence the new divorce stigma: children of divorce are sometimes treated as damaged goods on the marriage market.
It is important to say that most divorced kids who marry do stay together. Divorced kids are more likely to divorce, but are not destined to. And any individual can be the exception to the trend, even much stronger trends than this one.
The answer to the new divorce stigma is not to deny the risk. It is true: divorced kids are more likely to divorce. Rather, the answer is to turn that passion to make marriage work into the foundation of constant communication about the marriage.
Fight divorce with good marriage.