Kids Talk About Divorce
All Things Considered
Produced and reported by Gail Pellett
Aired on: NPR     Date: 1978

Poignant and funny stories from 3 kids — two girls and a boy,  from 8 to 10 yrs old — who have witnessed their parents marriages dissolve in arguments and acrimony, watched dads stomp out, and moms throw pots.  They’ve suffered broken hearts not only for their moms and dads, but themselves.  Then they’ve gone through the tensions and challenges of staying with each parent and conflict continuing, of new romantic interests coming into their home, of worrying about whether this particular boyfriend is the best one for mom.  All of them have working moms and worry when their mom or dad can’t find work or when dad doesn’t send alimony payments.  With the wisdom of maturity they have worried about divided loyalties as new step-moms or stepdads enter the picture.  And finally they’ve evolved some thoughtful ideas for themselves about family and relationships.

Produced in 1978 for NPR’s All Things Considered, this 11 min 30 sec feature was broadcast in the context of multiplying studies about divorce, the effects of divorce on kids, the rising phenomenon of working mothers, the shuttling of kids back and forth between moms and dads and societies concerns for all of this.

These kids are refreshingly candid about their feelings, their worries about their parents and their reactions to new adults coming into their intimate orbit.

“It’s not fair for them (that they divorced).  Why? “Because they need each other”

“I found my father was seeing another woman besides my mother and I thought this would really change me.”

“My mother has a lot of male friends.  They’re all really nice.  You can depend on them.”  How do you depend on them? “Well when my mom’s friend Philip was having a party and I was sick and a bit frightened to be left in the apartment, he left his own party and came over to see me.”

“I just want my mom to get a man who will be good to her.”

“When I grow up I want to live with a man — not get married — and let them be a little free.  To have woman friends, not girlfriends.”

Breaking News

Divorce rates among college educated couples who married in the 90s has declined somewhat since its peak in the late 70's and early 80's. The children of that era seem to have decided that they will work hard to make their relationships work. Perhaps the effects of the women's movement can be felt here, too. Men seem to be sharing more child-care within marriage and even when couples do separate, child-care seems more evenly divided. Studies reveal that there are still differences between middle-class, college-educated couples and their working class counterparts, however, with the latter holding stable on divorce while rural couples are catching up with the urban rates. So if you compare all the studies you can argue that nothing much has changed or that divorce has declined among college-educated couples who grew up in the 70's. Of course, there are interesting changes in the American family that are regularly reported in the press. More gay and lesbian couples adopt, more single mums, more single dads.

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One Response to “Kids Talk About Divorce”

  1. Bob Machover says:

    These kids are amazing. They are so articulate and somehow able to talk freely about the most delicate subjects. I’m impressed!

    PS What a great idea for a radio piece. It should be done more often, and with kids of different races and classes.

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