A cynical teenager, backpack slung over one shoulder, sighs to his buddy who’s just announced his parents’ divorce: “Joint custody blows.” So begins The Squid and the Whale, the Kramer vs. Kramer for our time. It tells the story of a divorce not from the adults’ point of view—a glamorous Meryl Streep and intense Dustin Hoffman revealing their pain—but from the children’s.
Elizabeth Marquardt’s book sat on my shelf for many weeks. I really wanted to read it. I had heard about her research and had been intrigued. Yet I kept avoiding actually opening the book. It does not take a shrink to tell me I was avoiding it because I didn’t want to take a look into this particular mirror.
In a marriage, two people with different backgrounds and often different values come together and work to merge their two worlds into some kind of unity. When they divorce, however, the job of making sense of their two worlds and the conflicts that arise between them gets handed from the adults to the child. Now the child is on his own to negotiate the different beliefs and values and ways of living that he finds in each parent's world.
In one of George Barna’s largest national surveys on marriage and divorce, the pollster has confirmed previous findings that born-again Christian adults have the same likelihood of divorce (35 percent) as other Americans.