What is a “good divorce”?

A paper written by Norval Glenn and issued by the Institute for American values includes an interesting discussion and findings regarding the effects of a “good” divorce on children.  I think the most interesting aspect of this study is the effort to define “bad” divorce.  Glenn goes back to the work of Constance Ahrons who published, The Good Divorce.  Glenn identified 8 factors that he suggests would characterize a bad divorce.  These are:

  • “a lot” of post divorce conflict
  • a parent kidnapping a child
  • a parent telling the child the other parent may kidnap them
  • a parent asked the child to keep secrets from the other parent
  • a child had to take sides in a parent conflict
  • the child did not feel protected from parental worries
  • the parents’ household rules were not the same
  • what the mother and father said was “true” was not the same.

In the sample he studied, he found that about 19% of the adult children whose parents had divorced reported none of these factors, about 23% reported 1 of these factors, 15% two factors, 14% reported 3 factors, 11% reported 4 factors, 10% reported 5 factors, and about 7% reported 6-8 factors.

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