Written by Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse
The former White Stripes rocker, Jack White, and his wife, Karen Elson, a model for Louie Vuitton and vintage clothing store owner, threw a big party in Nashville on June 10 to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary and the announcement of their divorce.
Jack is known for rather odd behavior. Jack took the last name of Megan White, the bartender that he married in 1996. Though she had never been interested or involved in music, Meg quickly learned to play drums and they became a rock duo called “White Stripes” and went on to win 15 awards and 50 nominations for alternative rock.
Jack and Meg’s marriage was an “open secret” because they claimed to be brother and sister, explaining that people care more about a music couple’s relationship than their music. The couple divorced in 2000, just before their music began to get attention. They continued to record music and travel together on concert tours even after Jack married Karen Elson in 2005. In fact, Meg was Karen’s maid of honor at the wedding which took place in a canoe on the Amazon River
With a past like Jack and Karen’s one could be forgiven for thinking the whole anniversary/divorce celebration is one big PR stunt. While Jack is ranked as number 17 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and Karen has a music career in her own right, they are definitely out of the limelight in Nashville and it’s safe to say their heyday is behind them. But the invitation continued their quirky lifestyle; it expressed a desire for the event to be a “swing bang hum dinger” of a party. The couple asked their “best friends and animals” to gather in celebration of the “making and breaking” of their “sacred” union.
Strange wording. Animals are invited to join the celebration? Their union and divorce are “sacred”?
They bent over backwards expressing positive feelings about both their marriage and the divorce, “We feel so fortunate for the time we have shared and the time we will continue to spend both separately and together watching our children grow.” The couple has two very young children, Scarlett and Henry Lee.
Like many parents who divorce, the Whites have little understanding of the impact their seemingly frivolous divorce will have on their children. Social science research makes it clear: divorce is not something to celebrate, especially when there are children involved. Many people today seriously underestimate the long-term negative impact that divorce has on children –– even when the divorce is a “good” one without rancor and bitterness between the parents.
Andrew Cherlin, a family demographer at Johns Hopkins University, notes in his research that children of divorce carry “residual trauma” into adulthood even if they are eventually successful in their adult lives.
The logo of the Children’s Defense Fund is a simple line drawing of a small child alone in a boat on a wide-open sea. The image of a defenseless child touches even the most hard-hearted person. But children who live without the safe, defined space that a married mom and dad provide are alone on the sea of life, buffeted by winds of chance and cruelty. They are often ill-at-ease socially and tend to be more worried, more self-deprecating and underachieving than children who live with both parents.
Researchers tell us that children of divorce experience inner conflict and don’t know where to turn when they need comfort or emotional support. In fact, counselors have reversed their earlier advice for couples to divorce if they are unhappy; now, they tell couples who are considering divorce that they should stay together for the sake of the children. Despite the parents’ good intentions, the absence of their parents’ marital bond leaves children emotionally and psychologically at risk in what is often a cold, hostile, and unforgiving world.