A friendly divorce is always better than a bad divorce. Or is it?
A working paper released in April 2012, by Norval Glenn, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, and Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, found that a bad divorce may have a silver lining. When the two researchers sought to assess how good the “good divorce” is for children, they found that daughters of a bad divorce were more likely than daughters of a good divorce to report that they had achieved a “good quality”, lasting first marriage.
The term “good divorce” was coined by Constance Ahrons, a psychologist, in her book by the same name. In the late 1970’s, Ahrons began her research and found that roughly half of the ex-spouses she interviewed managed to have amicable, well-functioning families, which promoted the well-being of their children. Some followers of this premise feel that “good divorces” can outshine poor marriages, though Ahron’s study did not test this theory.
Glenn and Marquadt’s and other’s research does not support the premise that a good divorce eclipses a mediocre marriage when it comes to the welfare of the children as they found that even outwardly successful children of good divorces carried heavy emotional scars into adulthood. Both researchers do agree that while a good divorce is still preferable to a bad one, in areas a bad divorce may be no worse for children, and that in one area it may actually be preferable to a good one.
Researchers guess that children of bad divorces may be highly motivated to avoid failures in their marriages or perhaps remain optimistic about marriage by blaming the parents and not the institution of marriage. Another reason could be that a good divorce confuses children in that their parents put them through the pain of divorce and then turn around and be nice to each other. Girls are often even more confused than boys and therefore can become jaded by good divorces.
Although the results of the research are preliminary in nature, and researchers still agree that a good divorce is better than a bad divorce in most cases, we now have evidence that a bad divorce can have positive results, too.