No-Fault Divorce: An Experimental Mistake with a Dire Warning

It's official. The "legacy" of no-fault divorce is ugly. What started out as a bold and confident experiment has left a wake of despondency and destruction. As I read to you some statistics and anecdotes from Judith Wallerstein's book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, I want you to stop me if it seems like you've heard this before...

Doctor Wallerstein and her colleagues

Despite what was hoped then, there is now little question that no-fault divorce was and is a social maelstrom, an evil genie whose lamp we can no longer even find. Knowing what you now know about this disastrous experiment, do you really want to attempt a similar one?

studied the effects of divorce on children for a 25-year period--children who, by the end of the study, had advanced well into their adulthoods. These case studies indicate that, decades later, sons and daughters of divorce still have trouble building healthy and trusting relationships, and that their offspring are much more likely than the general population to follow the same destructive path.

Here are excerpts from Wallerstein's general discoveries regarding her "25-Year Landmark Study".
In July 1999, Sesame Street aired an episode in which...a little bird [told Kermit the frog] where she lived. She chirped that she lives part of the time in one tree where she frolics in her mother's nest, and the rest of her time in a separate tree where she frolics with her dad. This, of course restates the beguiling myth of divorce. The story may provide bland comfort to some worried children. But I suspect most know better. The story...in no way matches their experience of growing up in a divorced family...

The story...nevertheless...has deep roots in our contemporary culture. Up until thirty years ago marriage was a lifetime commitment... Then, in an upheaval akin to a cataclysmic earthquake, family law in California changed overnight. A series of statewide task forces recommended that men and women seeking divorce should no longer be required to prove that their spouse was unfaithful, unfit, cruel, or incompatible.

In 1969, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the new law and people were jubilant. It was a time of hope and faith that greater choice would set men and women free and benefit their children. Within a few years, no-fault divorce laws spread like wildfire to all fifty states. People all across the country were in favor of [the] change.

But what about the children? We made radical changes in the family without realizing how it would change the experience of growing up.

The first [faulty assumption] holds that if parents are happier, children will be happier, too...[that] the crisis will be transient because children are resilient... [During the making of these fateful choices] children are not considered separately from their parents; their needs and even their thoughts are subsumed under the adult agenda. ...most adults cannot fathom the child's world view and how children think. The problem is, they think they do.

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25-Year Landmark Study, pp. xxi-xxiii
Despite what was hoped then, there is now little question that no-fault divorce was and is a social maelstrom, an evil genie whose lamp we can

Enough with the mad science. Let's not put our children into a brand new petri dish.

no longer even find. Knowing what you now know about this disastrous experiment, do you really want to attempt a similar one, called "homosexual marriage," which portends to be at least as disastrous?

As was the case with no-fault divorce, the major battleground for "homosexual marriage" is currently the state of California. Back then a state task force swayed the public balance; now a sharply divided State Supreme Court may have opened the floodgates of another madly scientific experiment. If "homosexual marriage" were to be legalized in California, would it also "spread like wildfire to all fifty states"? Do you really want to find out?

Wallerstein continues:
...the history of divorce in our society is replete with unwarranted assumptions that adults have made about children simply because such assumptions are congenial to adult needs and wishes. We embarked on a gigantic social experiment without any idea how the next generation would be affected.
We now know.

During the making of these fateful choices, children are not considered separately from their parents; their needs and even their thoughts are subsumed under the adult agenda. ...most adults cannot fathom the child's world view and how children think. The problem is, they think they do.

That generation has developed emotional scars, many of which never heal. That experiment was an abject failure.

Enough with the mad science. Let's not put our children into a brand new petri dish. If you value children, this time you'll support California Proposition 8 and stand firm against "homosexual marriage".




Comments

  1. The problem with your logic is that you assume homosexuality is a learned behavior, which implies you have empirical data the rest of the world does not have. Which makes it an assumption.

    Denying others the right to equal protection under the law based on an assumption is not a Christian value I want "your kind" teaching my children. (I'm being snarky, and a bit of devil's advocate on the issue, but you get my point).

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  2. That's an interesting observation, and you might be right. From a religious perspective (the LDS Church teaches that we develop our personalities in a pre-earth life) I think that could well be true.

    My main point, though, is that regardless of whether it is a learned behavior, we have an idea of how children are affected by participating in non-traditional families (actually not just including those wracked by divorce). The main reason for "homosexual marriage"--as all other rights are (or should be) enjoyed by homosexual partnerships--is to bring children into the relationship. I can't imagine that this would generally be a good thing for children.

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  3. I'm certain that the "slippery slope" cry will ring out here. I'm finding more and more that slippery slope criers just use it as an excuse to dismiss a reasonable argument. Of course, we don't know what actually will happen if same-sex marriage becomes legal and acceptable everywhere, but we can make a good guestimate based on past experiences with things like no-fault divorce.

    So the question is: knowing that a policy could affect generations of children to come, do we want to risk adopting it?

    I'd argue that denying a child's natural right to be raised by a father and mother is far less Christlike than denying to a same-sex couple the civil right to marry. Then again, using this logic, maybe we should allow same-sex couples to marry and just not let them have children?

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  4. The no-fault divorce should not be considered the cause of the deterioration of family values. It itself is the consequence of the deterioration of morality. it will be enough to remember the free love movement, a perversion which came from relativist philosophical movements. In general the divorce rate is high because we are lacking any culture. There is a vacuum of culture in our midst. The legal system is unable to regulate all the spheres of life. Thing will not get better unless we develop CULTURE (inner mechanism regulating relationships in the society). First we need to learn to differentiate culture from folklore.

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  5. You're right. The "Woodstock" mentality predated that, but no-fault divorce certainly accelerated the deterioration.

    Speaking of culture, that's why I'm glad my family still has frequent evening and Sunday dinners together, because it allows us to talk about such things as sexual intimacy and purity, what went on at school, the Electoral College, the latest Federal bailout, and Rubik's Cubes in a setting in which my kids are comfortable.

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  6. I am glad to hear that. That is how culture is formed. Never let it die out. I am doing the same. It is vital to keep our children close to us as long as possible. Isaak lived with Abraham all his life, even after forming his own family. So did Jacob. After Jacob everything went wrong.

    If we leave others to 'educate' our children we'll surely loose them. Consequently there will be none to take care of us in our old age. The current system of social security will soon vanish forever.

    Best regards

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  7. I wish people would take marriage more seriously i didnt, I didnt believe about have two partners equally yolked, or that when you marry someone your really marrying their whole immediate family and now here I am in a terrible marriage with a man who doenst even care if we go to church, or if our daughter learns about Jesus

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