Best Column

Divorce, Generation-X style

Young parents raised in broken homes are determined to stay married, says Susan Gregory Thomas in The Wall Street Journal — or at least to make divorce less painful

Generation X parents who have "survived the wreckage of split families" go into our own marriages "determined never to inflict such wounds on our children" and committed to providing the stable homes our own parents denied us, says Susan Gregory Thomas in The Wall Street Journal. We have taken out more home equity loans than any preceding generation, sacrificing whatever we must to build a comfortable, secure nest. We marry later in life when we're more mature. We marry our "best friends," and share the housework. It's paying off — divorce rates are at their lowest level since 1970. But when it doesn't, we find ourselves having to reinvent divorce for the modern era, just as we tried to reinvent marriage. Here, an excerpt:

The phrase "friendly divorce" may strike some as an oxymoron, but it is increasingly a trend and a real possibility. Relatively inexpensive and nonadversarial divorce mediation — rather than pricey, contentious litigation — is now more common than ever. Many of us are all too familiar with the brutal court fights of our parents, and we have no intention of putting our kids through it, too.... In the '70s, only nine states permitted joint custody. Today, every state has adopted it. It was once typical for dads to recede from family life, or to drop out altogether, in the wake of a divorce. But dads are critical in helping kids to develop self-esteem and constructive habits of behavior....

I have yet to meet the divorced mother or father who feels like a good parent, who professes to being happier with how their children are now being raised. Many of us have ended up inflicting pain on our children, which we did everything to avoid. But we have not had our parents' divorces either. We can only hope that in this, we have done it differently in the right way.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.

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