Over the weekend, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal published two very personal accounts of the effects of divorce on Generation X.
Though written by two different women, they share a similar theme: The rampant divorce rates of the '70s produced a generation of children convinced of -- and wounded by -- the shattering effects of their parents' split.
In the WSJ, Susan Gregory Thomas -- author of her own soon-to-be-released divorce memoir -- laments her own repetition of her parents' mistakes in marriage, despite her vows to shield her children from the searing consequences of divorce. Commenting on parenting trends among the 30-something set -- the tendency to hover, men shouldering a greater load in running the house and parenting than their fathers did, and the mentality to pour oneself out for the sake of "our family meals, for the stability of our home, for neighborhood play dates" -- she raises an interesting point: for better or worse, are these in reaction to Generation X's own, broken childhoods?
Then, in "The Divorce Delusion," New York Times contributor Heather Havrilesky takes issue with the almost carefree, congratulatory attitude that can accompany news of a divorce (and which I noted here when commenting on another New York Times article last month), or what she calls the enduring legacy of Oprah that attempts to immediately transform every challenge and painful moment into "a breakthrough on the road to self-fulfillment."
Stories of divorced couples peacefully co-parenting and becoming wonderful lifelong friends contribute to this expectation that, if we’re not emotionally overachieving with a person who usually feels more like a mortal enemy than a soulmate, that means we’re petty, unenlightened thugs of the lowest order.
... sometimes the urge to reshape a tragedy into a story of hope just undermines the hope therein. We don’t need to reimagine every disaster as a tale of heroism. We don’t need to turn every funeral into a celebration. ... We all have a right to our own bad choices — and a right to feel bad about them too. As Lord Byron wrote, “Sorrow is knowledge.” So for God’s sake, let’s stop rushing to get to the good part.
-- Elizabeth Hansen