When Divorce is a Family Affair


The purpose of this assignment is to learn how to engage with current events and public perspectives relating to family change and interpret them through a sociological lens. Through this assignment, you will demonstrate your ability to interpret and summarize two sides of a debate around specific family issues, place them in a sociological context, and explain your own opinion on the issue, drawing from prior experience and course materials. If you prefer not to offer your own opinion, you can instead weigh the merits of each side of the debate.


Divorce can be harmful to children. Should divorces in families involving minor children become harder to obtain to encourage more families to stay together? As you sort through the positions, identify the range of alternatives to achieving better outcomes for kids.


Your essay should: 

            (1) Briefly define the issue

(2) Summarize each essay within the debate, including the key points made, the evidence to support these positions, and the range of alternatives discussed by the authors.

(3) Discuss your own position on the issue and explain why you hold that position. Alternately, you can critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each side of the debate.  


  1. Read all 6 essays from the “When Divorce is a Family Affair” NYT’s Room for Debate series.
  2. For each essay, summarize the author’s key points and the evidence they use to support their argument.
  3. Explain at least 2alternatives to divorce that the authors discuss. This can be integrated into the summarization paragraphs or put in its own paragraph.
  4. Create an introduction paragraph where you define the issue being debated and provide sociological context.
  5. Create a closing paragraph where you state your own opinion, referring back to the essays. Alternatively, your closing paragraph can weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each side.


Your essay must be 4-6 pages (double spaced, 11 point font). You may only use materials from the New York Times’ Room for Debate series.