Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce
Who Wins, Who Loses -- and Why
From time to time a book appears that is immediately recognized as a cultural marker, directly addressing an entire generation and bringing about profound shifts in public consciousness. Second Chances is such a book, a landmark work that may forever change the way we think about marriage, the family, and our moral commitments to our spouses and children.
In 1971, Judith Wallerstein began a study of sixty middle-class families in the midst of divorce. Over the years, she has remained in close touch with these men and women and their children. She has observed adults as they reorganize their lives and reflect on the choices they made, and she has seen children come of age and venture forth into relationships of their own. At every step, she and her colleagues carefully recorded the progress of each family member - their frustrations, fears, and disappointments as well as their hopes, triumphs, and new beginnings.
The result is a picture of divorce unlike any we have seen before, based on the only ten-year longitudinal study of divorce ever conducted. Vivid, authoritative, and extraordinarily compelling, Second Chances provides the first comprehensive account of the long-term emotional, economic, and psychological effects of divorce on adults and children.
Through the actual experiences of these very different families, Dr. Wallerstein explores at first hand the complexities, tragedies, and opportunities inherent in divorce. She has come to know all of the families intimately, and they speak here with startling candor and urgency. Their life stories bring home - more powerfully than any statistics - how divorce is reshaping the American family. As Dr. Wallerstein's findings so clearly show, we have erred in our assumption that divorce is a short-term crisis. It is a profoundly life-changing event for all concerned, and there are both winners and losers in the years that follow.
Most of us would agree that we are allowed mistakes and second chances. But when one in two marriages ends in divorce, the ripple effects extend beyond the immediate family to the entire society. In one way or another, we have each been touched by divorce. Eloquent and deeply moving, Second Chances is a book for us all.
"A landmark book."
"The years of research on which this book is based provide its formulations with indubitable authority. The narrative and unclinical language in which the material is presented makes it fascinatingly interesting and accessible."
ERIK AND JOAN ERIKSON
"This deeply touching, impressively researched, immensely readable book will be a major contribution to everyone's understanding of the lifetransforming impact of divorce. "
"A welcome book to those who feel that an intact family is worth struggling for.... It questions the very tenets our society has begun to value: immediate success and the happiness of self-fulfillment at all costs. Second Chances shows how ephemeral they are. A great book, and a very disturbing one."
T. BERRY BRAZELTON, M.D.
"A sobering, powerful contribution to our understanding of family life in general and divorce in particular.... The rich, compelling details in the cases presented suggest what personal qualities and social conditions can facilitate successful mastery of the divorce experience and at the same time demonstrate the wrenching personal consequences for many children, women, and men.... This book is required - and eminently rewarding - reading for anyone interested in the contemporary family."
NANCY J. CHODOROW, PH.D.
"Judy Wallerstein has given the term life crisis new substance by sensitively charting fifteen years in the lives of divorced families. She tells us much that is new and valuable about psychological issues of separation and loss, and about surprising expressions of resiliency. In the process, she reveals to us an important dimension of contemporary American history."
ROBERT JAY LIFTON, M.D.
"Profoundly disturbing but beautifully written - the most important book on the long-term effects of divorce on children. "
LENORE J. WEITZMAN, PH.D.