Constance Ahrons (Ph.D.) – a prominent psychologist, mediator, collaborative divorce specialist, and author who challenged negative stereotypes about divorced families in her book “The Good Divorce” – passed away on Nov. 29 at her home in San Diego at the age of 84.
Constance Ahrons, Ph.D. (April 16, 1937 – November 29, 2021)
Constance Ruth Ahrons, Ph.D., age 84, was a woman of incredible strength and conviction, from her youth until her final moments on November 29, 2021. Connie lived a full and vibrant life, defying nearly every stereotype she confronted, forging her own way, and clearing paths for those who followed.
The bestselling author of The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart (HarperCollins Publishers, 1994) and We’re Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce (HarperCollins Publishers, 2004), Connie was an acclaimed international speaker and an early champion of collaborative divorce. She was a forceful proponent of a systems approach to moderating the negative impact of family change and restructuring post-divorce. Her groundbreaking longitudinal research encompassed interviews with parents, children, and step-parents of divorced families across decades.
Dr. Constance Ahrons and The Good Divorce
She was criticized by some commentators and colleagues for promoting or normalizing divorce, in some cases pointing to the title of her second book, The Good Divorce. In fact, Connie simply recognized that blended families were more common in the modern industrial world than the traditional nuclear family model. She challenged the negative stereotypes surrounding divorced families, noting that a well-handled divorce could be healthier for children than a marriage filled with acrimony. Connie was not an advocate for divorce; rather she advocated for creating the best environment in which to co-parent children of divorce.
Connie travelled extensively and enjoyed that her books were translated into many different languages. Her community and influence span the globe. She was known as a caring and innovative professor, psychotherapist, coach, and mediator. She was a former professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Southern California where she was Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral training program. She was a former visiting scholar at the University of Michigan and former Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. She received countless awards and professional accolades. She was a Charter Member of the American Family Therapy Association (AFTA), a long-time member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and of many other related professional organizations. She was an active Board Member of the Collaborative Family Law Group (San Diego), as well as a founding co-chair and senior scholar of the Council on Contemporary Families.
Connie died as she lived: on her own terms. She was diagnosed two months ago with an aggressive form of lymphoma and was given a short time to live. An active member of the Hemlock Society and an advocate for California’s Medical Aid in Dying legislation, she was a strong believer in having a choice in how one lives and in how one dies. She wanted people to know of her choice. In the last two months, she did not shy away from difficult conversations, but at the same time insisted on humor, and marking beautiful sunsets with champagne toasts and chocolate. She died peacefully and courageously at her home surrounded by love, with her daughters, sons-in-law, and trusted medical professionals by her side.
Connie was a beloved mother, proud grandmother, and deeply cherished friend, partner, sister, cousin, and aunt. Connie loved her family with all her heart, including her furry canine friends. Connie is survived by her two daughters, Geri Kolesar (Andy) and Amy Weiseman (Mark Singer), her four grandchildren (Laine, Jake, and Elana Kolesar and Emma Singer), and Roy H. Rodgers, Connie’s long-time partner and co-author of their book Divorced Families: Meeting the Challenge of Divorce & Remarriage (W.W. Norton, 1989). Connie’s family is planning a virtual celebration of her life in the coming weeks.
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