Thank you for validating my feelings about the effects of divorce on children (PEOPLE, May 29). Even though my parents split up over 25 years ago, the memories and pain of the event are fresh. This is probably why I have not involved myself in any relationships of a serious nature—no doubt in the fear that history would repeat itself. I don't think I could bear the guilt of perpetuating another generation of pain and suffering.
My childhood was spent in a family whose parents appeared to be "perfect"—never fought, always smiled. In truth, it was a house filled with suppressed rage and unspoken hurts and was an emotional vacuum. I used to wish on that first star at night that my mom and dad would divorce. But it just wasn't done—what would the neighbors think? My siblings and I have reaped a harvest of depression and troubled relationships. Through endless years in therapy, we have continued to struggle not to duplicate our parents' relationship. Divorce is not pretty and does hurt children, but sometimes so does staying together.
Usually you show both sides of the story, but I didn't read about one person who said they thought they were better off when their parents divorced. We are eight children who went through our parents' divorce and their remarriages. Everything Mom and Dad did during that time was done in the children's best interest. They have always been friendly for our sakes, never back-talked each other. All of us are now grown, love both parents and are better off than we would have been if they had stayed together.
The words of our neighbor, Ryan Berdan, in your cover story were touching. They certainly crystallize the perception of and the effect upon a young life due to a parent's "total lack of communication and a very different value system and life-style." There is a slant and a coloring to your article which I feel is unfair. It is obvious to me that Chuck Berdan is a very loving and caring father. My children and I have spent weekends on retreats with Chuck and Ryan. Chuck's attention, love and care for Ryan is genuine. My perception of the Berdans' separation, divorce and legal maneuvering has always made me feel badly for Chuck. The slanted framework around Ryan's quotes seems to be another "stone on the pile." I feel badly all over again and I will not stand idly by and say nothing about it.
Thomas E. Rucktenwald
As the adult daughter of parents who have been divorced since I was 13, I know that a time comes when you have to stop blaming your parents' broken marriage for your own disappointments. Not doing so is a cop-out. To use someone else's failure as your reason for not being able to deal with life is ridiculous.
The true deathblow came when, in the fall of 1988, Glenn Gordon Caron, brilliant creator of Moonlighting, told not-so-brilliant ABC to choose between him and the blond. They chose beauty over brains and we all lost.
CARRIE MAE DIXON
I cannot express enough my admiration for valedictorian Carrie Mae Dixon. While she admits irresponsibility in conceiving her two illegitimate children, she has chosen to strive to make a good life for her family through education and perseverance. Those two children are lucky to have such a special mother.
JOHN ALLEN PAULOS
If Professor Paulos was supposed to relieve my fears on math anxiety or, as he defines it, "innumeracy," I've got a real problem. I fully expected to be enlightened on the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy but found I was even more unenlightened. "Quantum mechanics"??? I looked it up and was still confused. While Professor Paulos was annoyed that "those who are otherwise highly intelligent and knowledgeable openly boast that they can't balance their checkbooks," I am annoyed that he thinks innumerates take pride in their mathematical ignorance. Believe me, it's a real fear for those of us who don't speak "math."
Colleen G. Johnson
I couldn't disagree more with your "eminent math professor" John Paulos, concerning what he terms "innumeracy" in this country. I, too, am a college professor. I have never progressed further than "fivesies," use my fingers when computing my bank deposits and am absolutely ignorant when it comes to figuring percentages, doing long division or attempting algebra, much less geometry. How do I overcome my inadequacy in math? I simply ask a dinner guest to figure out my restaurant bills, and I employ an accountant to do my income taxes—which are considerable, despite my "innumeracy."
New York City