Stephanie Coontz: Gore Divorce a “Success”

06.03.2010, 9:49 PM

Stephanie Coontz is the media’s favorite go-to-gal when they are looking for pollyannish commentary on the family issue du jour. But she reaches a new nadir in her comments to ABC News today on the Gore split. She thinks the upside to the Gore split is that it is one indication that Americans–especially women–never need to feel constrained in a marriage, and can always look forward to a new start in life. Money quote:

“It’s a success that they have the option to move on and not be stuck.”

But there are at least seven people–the Gore’s four children (Karenna, Kristin, Sarah, and Albert III) and three grandchildren (Wyatt, Anna, and Oscar)–who probably won’t be able to “move on” from this divorce. Studies, such as this one from Penn State, suggest that children of low conflict divorces (like the Gore’s) are much more likely than their peers whose married parents stuck it out to lose faith in marriage and to end up in divorce court themselves. Studies, such as this other one from Penn State, also suggest that the ill effects (e.g., family discord, higher risk of divorce, strained family relations) travel across at least three generations, from grandparents to grandchildren. In fact, after studying the intergenerational effects of divorce, sociologists Paul Amato and Jacob Cheadle conclude that

“divorce has consequences for subsequent generations, including individuals who were not yet born at the time of the original divorce.”


In other words, the sins of the grandparents shall be visited on their grandchildren and, possibly, generations yet to come.

3 Responses to “Stephanie Coontz: Gore Divorce a “Success””

  1. John Howard says:

    Divorces also make people think more than once about marriage. They tell me that there is no such thing as marriage, so why marry? Why even try to connect with someone, or love someone?

  2. John Howard says:

    My parents are about to celebrate their 60th anniversary, by the way. It’s not just the children of divorced parents who are affected by people’s divorces, I’m not gonna marry my own mom, obviously.

  3. [...] Wilcox have treated coverage of the Gore split a total of four times on this blog (here, here, here and here), but there is at least one NYT op-ed appearing on it that I believe none of us have [...]