Over recent years, the view of family has shifted drastically. The pendulum has swung from a time when the mark of adulthood was having a spouse and family, to what is now a dreaded life-changer, bound to a spouse or to children. The mostly harmful choice of divorce is now commonplace among parents today; it is accepted with little acknowledgment of the detrimental effects that it has on both the parents and their children. In Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s essay, “Where Have All the Parents Gone?” she explains that “More than drugs, it was divorce that lay at the heart of middle-class parental failure. It wasn’t the crackhouse but the courthouse that was the scene of their collapse” (283). She also writes about how parents take part in gruesome custody battles, kidnap their own children and use them as weapons against each other. The other option they see themselves as having, is simply walking away from their responsibilities. The sorrowful impact of divorce on the family is observed in the outcome of emotional disorders, strenuous untrusting relationships and premature responsibility loads.
Investigated, studied and recorded outcomes are given in many articles and books. Specifically in Judith S. Wallerstein’s book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, she explains that, “[t]o understand how divorce affects children over the long haul, we need to explore the fact that the divorced family is not just a cut-off version of the two-parent family. The postdivore family is a new family form that makes very different demands on each parent, each child, and each of the many new adults who enter the family orbit” (10). The various occasions that divorce is sought out are many. Distinguishing between necessary divorce and purely selfish divorce is difficult. There is no doubt that in abusive situations, divorce is one of the ways to escape and gain protection. On the other hand, many cases form due to boredom with the spouse or children. Both are tragic, and both have troubling, long-lasting effects on all involved. As Wallerstein sums up:
[W]e must not forget a very important other side to all these changes. Because of our divorce culture, adults today have a greater sense of freedom. The importance of sex and play in adult life is widely accepted. We are not locked into our early mistakes and forced to stay in wretched, lifelong relationships.
The change in women--their very identity and freer role in society--is part of our divorce culture. (296)
It is a summary indeed of what I think we can say is our cultures' values--sex, play, no accountability for actions, and complete freedom to do it all.
There is a root cause to any issue. For the issue of parents splitting and failing at their basic tasks, as Whitehead writes about, there is a base that supports this problem. The decline of parenting, or the lack of desire to be a parent is dangerously popular in our society today. The problem is that this lifestyle is called...