Judith Wallerstein passed away this week. As is true for most people in my profession, I first encountered Judy's work in 1976 through her groundbreaking series of articles, co-authored with Joan Kelly, on children of divorce.
I discovered these articles during an internship in a Child Guidance Clinic and relied on them as an oasis of clinical insight in working with children whose parents had divorced. Together with the work of Mavis Hetherington, another doyenne of divorce research, these research projects served as a foundation for my own studies in the field. In addition to expanding the inquiry to include father-custody families, my goal was to explore some of the hypotheses Wallerstein and Kelly raised in their clinical studies by combining clinical research methods with the more rigorous scientific methodology that Hetherington introduced.
The publication of my studies, co-authored with John Santrock, led to the exciting opportunity to meet Judith Wallerstein in person. In 1983 I was honored to lecture with Judy at a two-day seminar, and then share a panel with her and other luminaries of the profession. Judy was very gracious in treating this young researcher/clinician as a peer and I remember feeling surprised and grateful that she had taken the time to carefully read and digest my articles.
When it was her turn to lecture, Judy was charismatic -- just riveting. Her accounts of children's responses to their parents' breakups were compassionate and compelling. Along with others who appreciated her contributions, I had professional disagreements with aspects of some of her later publications. But I never lost my fondness for her personally and respect for her work. Her dedication to children's welfare was inspiring.
Judy will be missed, but her legacy will continue to inspire young professionals to challenge accepted wisdom with new data. My condolences to her family.