Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: (Valerie Nelson)

I really appreciate this review from Valerie Nelson of When I was writing Generation Ex, I did so with some trepidation about what divorced parents would think--especially my own! At the same time, I wanted to be an advocate for all the other children of divorce who weren't able to express their own feelings. I realized that what I would say would be difficult for parents to hear, but also necessary for reconciling divorced parents and children. So I wrote as honestly and graciously as I could. I'm so happy that Ms. Nelson got that.

Book Review: Generation Ex
by Valerie Nelson

Divorce affects each person differently. In her book called Generation Ex, Jen Abbas explains the effects that divorce has on children and how we tend to carry them through to adulthood. Since the 1970's when no fault divorce laws were adopted, over a million children per year have been affected by divorce. Currently, nearly half of all children's families will experience divorce before that child reaches adulthood.

The author's catchy title "Generation Ex" stems from the understanding that the first generation (or largest up to that time)of children of divorce that grew up in the 70's and 80's are now into adulthood and oftentimes taking with them the emotional scars of divorce.

Jen tells us in her book that she seems to be more affected by her parents divorce each year, not less, and that divorce is not just a bump in the road that is easily overcome. Listed on pages 11 & 12 of the book are some of the effects of divorce that carry into adulthood:

  • Fear of falling in love, even with a strong desire to do so.
  • Turning into a perfectionist.
  • Fear that even if someone says, "I love you," ultimately that person might leave you.
  • Trust comes in hard-earned degrees.
  • You are not sure where home is, or you aren't so sure you want to accept the home that society has defined for you.
  • You have holes in your history.
  • You aren't sure what a healthy marriage looks like.

I agree with a lot of what the author said, and found the book intriguing because my parents divorced after I was married. I thought that their divorce did not affect me because I was already an adult living my own married life. The book helped shed some light upon the truth that the divorce, and maybe more so the bad marriage prior to the divorce, did have an effect on me and still does today.

As a woman who has gone through divorce, and still wants the very best for her children, some parts of the book where the author posed tough questions and honest thoughts were difficult for me to read. For example on page 12, Jen writes:

If our parents' decision to divorce were truly a healthy one because it offered the potential for a happier home, then why do so many of us still struggle decades later with issues of abandonment, trust, commitment, and making our own marriages work?

Divorce is often the defining event of our life, and the implications of our parents' choice continue to ripple throughout our life.

Ouch, that hurts. So does divorce. It hurts all parties involved at some level.

Even though some of the book was difficult to read, I stil recommend it because it is written from the viewpoint of an adult who has grown up in a family that experienced two divorces-both her parents, and then her mother and step father's breakups. In addition, Jen Abbas is open and honest about the wide range of emotions due to divorce that she and many others feel throughout their lives. I think the book could be an important communication tool to utilize as our children grow and potentially experience some of the same difficulties discussed in the book.

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