The effects of divorce on Child Development, Adolescent Development, Lifespan Development and overall Family Systems Theory are widespread and yet disproportionally underrepresented in College & University teaching. Half our nation’s children have experienced divorce and there will continue to be an ever-growing majority of kids who for one reason or another do not grow up in a household with both biological parents. Accordingly, students, and in particular Psychology Majors, and especially those planning a profession in a psychological or related field, need to learn more about the influence of divorce on maturation.
For three semesters in 2019, students in Dr. Campbell’s Psych 302 / Adolescent Development class read portions of Without A Chair and after a class discussion, the students had a Q & A with the Author. It’s with this in mind, along with our shared passion for the role education can play in reducing incidents of divorce, and thus the agony and heartbreak kids as well as adults experience, that we come together to write this workbook. It’s our collective belief that students along with other young adults looking at their not too distant past, as well as couples reflecting on their extensive backgrounds, can see a path forward to overcoming problems within relationships.
Dr. Julie Campbell
Without A Chair had a controversial ending, without which there really was no book. Rather, it would’ve been just another divorce story, most of which share so many similar themes, sadly they can be called stereotypical. It’s hard to understand Gil’s out of the ordinary decisions at the end. Perhaps, because they weren’t so much an adjudication as they were a manifestation of decades of trauma etched so deep that Gil really wasn’t left with a choice, at least in his mind.
Gil’s story is not typical of divorces and is certainly extreme, however, it is the onerous story which illustrates the issues all children and adults who experience divorce go through. It’s the noxious story that provides the teaching moment. So, as we walk through aspects of Gil’s childhood & adolescence in this workbook, and tie them to actions and reactions throughout his lifespan, we hope this prompts you to examine your relationships, be they friendships, dating, business or marital, and see how and why you come to them as a function of how you came to be who you are. Consciously or Subconsciously we have expectations of our partners, as well as ourselves, while not always having the knowledge of theirs or our ability to meet them. By bringing together real-life emotion with the underlying psychology you can gain an understanding of how to make your relationships the best they can be.
Societally, and in particular intellectually, we recognize children can be severely damaged by divorce, however, our current culture demands we ignore humanity; that sometimes the harm done is so severe it can’t be overcome and extends well into adulthood. Divorce is not a zero-sum game and yet we’re so surprised when the ruin we’re so concerned could happen, actually happens, and there is fallout accordingly. We’ve grown accustomed to walking by a divorce with the same arm’s length curiosity we rubberneck by a car accident, and convince ourselvesthat somehow, somewhere down the road, in some way, everything turned out okay. For Gil Belmont, it didn’t! Scarred for life really meant scarred for life.
Let Gil be the cautionary tale, so you and / or your kids don’t have to be…
For an Adolescent; Family, Friends, School, and Work, along with the transitions that occur during each of these areas serve as the backdrop to where thought processes ripen and thus Identity, Autonomy, Intimacy and Achievement take shape.
Using Gil’s self-assessment below as an example, the goal is for you to create a profile of your own adolescent development. With the realization of how you experienced this stage, theory, issue, the takeaway for you will be to realize how it shaped who you are and why you act the way you do. With what you’ve learned about yourself in mind you can do things to make yourself a better friend, partner, parent, son / daughter, employee / employer. Likewise, having understanding of all this about your partner will hopefully lead you to have more empathy.
The Workbook is organized into ten Modules to aid you in exploring each area that influences who you’ve become: