Spoiled Children of Divorce


Parental Decision Making in Step-Family Situations

Story out of Minnesota about a Mother and her boyfriend who shaved the head of the Mother’s daughter and forced her to wear diapers and run around outside their house.  They locked the girl out of the house and when police showed up she was understandably crying and hysterical.  To make matters worse about 50 neighbors were standing around staring at her.

The parents were arrested and were said to be laughing as the police put them in the police car.  They are charged with a misdemeanor crime.

They

Just

Didn’t

Get

It.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to have a kid. You have something to bully and humiliate.  The reason the Mother and the boyfriend gave for this crime was that the daughter wasn’t doing well in school.  I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t be doing well in school…  A really large percentage of children from Divorced families don’t do well in school.

I suspect that parenting becomes much more sloppy in divorced families and even worse in step-families.  Maybe somebody would do a study someday to come up with a couple of statistics.

Here’s another one out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Dad’s got 3 kids.  Mom’s got one.  They all pile into the car and drive off to the liquor store because the adults are drunk and Dad gets the idea of how this group must somehow form a family.  He straps the kids to the hood of the car to give them a ride.  It was probably kind of fun until the guy at the liquor store called the police and the police called the U.S. Marshall and the U.S. Marshall pulled them over. They made it 3 blocks.  Nobody was hurt.  The Dad’s kids were picked up by their Mother.  The Mom’s daughter was put into protective custody.  This is some sort of Felony in Indiana.  Dad was crying at he was arrested.  Mom admitted the children were in danger.  Dad should dry up and open an amusement park.  It sounds like Indiana needs one.

There are many step situations with Mom and Dad’s Lovers where this doesn’t happen.  The tension is much more subtle.  Or it’s not there at all.  Often money will happily replace it.  I’m just saying, parenting is difficult.



Poisoned Apples
July 18, 2010, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Parents and their Dates, Stepfamilies

Somebody left a comment saying that I ought to seek out the help of a therapist about my step-mother issues rather than hurt her feelings by discussing openly my thoughts and observations about how step-mothers treat their step-children.  She left a link to another site in the message which is probably damaging.  Her IP address is from Canada so if she comes back will know why I put her message in my spam filter.

For one, I went to therapists for years and years.  It doesn’t do any good because therapists don’t discuss divorce.  Period. 

I’ve mentioned positive step-mothers roles on this blog, other readers have recognized that I”ve done so, but these women simply want to come on here and fight.

Step-mothers keep insisting that they are not the problem.  They try.  Well, they try.  But, stupid is as stupid does.  If they are miserable as step-parents, then they simply aren’t the right folks for the job.  Get over yourselves.

I’m aware that the Witch who I’ve mentioned before who runs the Step-Mother site (no training to do counseling, mind you, they’re just getting together to bitch and complain and eat) has begun her idiot retreat this week-end.  The cat fight never ends.  The photo on her blog is classic.  Long frizzed out hair with gray streaks like bride of frankenstein, arms crossed in the ultimate defensive, closed off posture.  And she’s offering help to others.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

Another excuse for narcissism.



Mom, I’m Home
January 29, 2010, 3:19 am
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Good Step-Parent Stories, Uncategorized

In the never-ending comments section of the Stepmothers and Step-daughters blog entry I wrote how many eons ago a Step-Mother just shared how she doesn’t have a problem with her step-daughters. Yay!  Read it.  Also, read Carolyn’s blog because she links to some really positive, helpful blogs right now which are written by Step-Mothers who are also Children of D.  I suspect that Children of D. make much better Step-Parents than Step-Parents from traditional households because they know how it feels to be in the situation and  I’m really glad this is happening.  I sort of wonder if a lot of the behaviors suggested won’t fall on deaf ears, though.  Children of D, for example, grow up knowing what it feels like to feel left out. Telling most people who grew up in Intact Families not to interfere in certain parts of family life is going to be impossible.  One of the problems with Divorce is that it messes with our natural sense of mixing territoriality with our homes and they don’t understand that this is just part of the contract they signed into.

At any rate the Successful Happy Step-Mother commenter says that her step-daughters live with her and her husband.  She gave some really great advice about what works for her as a step-mother.  (I don’t understand why step-parents constantly butt into this blog because it’s clearly not about them, but I suppose I don’t understand why anyone would marry into a step-family without making sure that they knew what they were walking into in the first place.)

I’m trying to believe that all the complaining that the step-mothers do about their roles is a link to figuring out a way to fix the problems that exist in step-families.  The Step-Mothers can hopefully provide insight into the family which the blood relatives can’t see.  Unfortunately, in divorce situations, everyone’s already adjusting to being an outsider in the family as well.

Sadly, I tend to think that most of the Step-Mother complaining is just complaining.  In the situations where the step-mothers are reasonably well balanced emotionally, honest, caring, respectful people (in the situations where they really are that way and not just saying that they are that way) there might be some real information in there.  But over the Internet one can reasonably only assume the worst.

In reality  many women who take on the step-mother role are doing it just to “get a man.”  They are bullies and will make fast work of the husband’s kids.  I grew up with one of those.  I know others who know one or two of those.  I know that there are a lot of overly confident women out ought to be CEOs of large corporations but have to settle for decimating step-children’s lives.

Sadly, like all other adults out in the world right now, I have no real advice for kids growing up in that situation except to focus on what positive, strong people do.  Divorce in families is so alienating that it is raising a great social consciousness in the World which may be just as valuable (or, at least different).  Grasp on to that part of the lessons it offers.

Back to the commenter who has no problem with her live-in step-daughters, what impressed me from a critical point of view was her description of the biological mother because it still manages to fall into that category of step-mother comments that negate the other Mother’s influence in her children’s lives.  The deal here is that the biological mother is not in her children’s life.  The commenter showed some concern for the girls’ welfare that the mother wasn’t there.  She didn’t say why the Mother was absent.

I tend to feel equal amount of annoyance by Step-Mothers who tell me that everyone gets along just fine as the ones who like to point out the flaws of the Mother.  How do they know how the kids feel?  Why don’t they analyze their own flaws?  A kid has enough lessons to learn in order to ask a “real parent” for a ride to a friend’s house.  Imagine how much more difficult it is to ask a “step-Parent” for a ride to a friend’s house.  This is a constant awareness that the “real parent” isn’t there.  And it’s gotta hurt.  It’s made all the worse when there is mental illness, addiction, abuse, or illness involved somehow in the situation because the child is already dealing with difficult situations.

Since this is a blog about Children of Divorce and what affects them it just sort of made me wonder why a Mother wouldn’t be there because I wonder how the two girls will grow up thinking about their Mother and how that will affect their abilities to see themselves, love themselves, and to love others.  In my personal experience I’ve heard the comment “I don’t owe my real Mother anything, my Step-Mother did everything.”

Okay, for one, becoming a single Mother is farking scary.  Nothing is easier for single Women than it is for single Men in this world.  That’s the honest to God truth.  Because of that you would think that women would support each other.  But they don’t.  They tend to attack and use each other.

Is the Mother not there because she hates the child?  (some Mothers really don’t like their kids)

Is the Mother not there because she simply doesn’t like or can’t handle being a Mother?

Did the Mother marry too young?

Is she not there because she has a career and has decided that the Father can provide better care?

Is she mentally ill, alcoholic, addicted, etc?

Does the Mother have a chronic illness?

Is the Mother just irresponsible?

Is she unable to handle the financial burden of raising children?

Can she not handle the tension of passing the kids back and forth between households?

Did the Mother marry an abusive man?

What else?  How different a Child from Divorce’s attitude must be from the Child who grows up in an Intact Family where these questions don’t exist.

I wonder what the best way is for a step-parent to discuss the “other parent.”  I have noticed that Step-Mothers who complain about step-children endlessly seem to never discuss their husbands’ parenting styles.  They do like to discuss the “Real Mother’s” problems, however.

I think that men really don’t know what’s going on between the Step-Mother and Step-Child situation. (Yes, I know, and the police know, that Step-Fathers tend to be very abusive as well, I’m just discussing the Step-Mother thing because they keep flooding my blog).   Women are experts at doing things underhanded.  They survive by pulling this behavior in society.

This is basic tribal stuff.  But, as I said, it doesn’t exist in intact families.  And so it goes that there’s an awful sexism that crops up within step-families between the women.  And it’s interesting that no one really seems to benefit from it (emotionally at least).  The Mother is humiliated by the Other woman.  The daughters are abused and at least are exposed to how two very bad female role models co-exist.  The Step-Mothers complain endlessly and no one really does know if they really are used as doormats or if they are just being bullies.

Boy, I want this to be my last post about step-mothers.  I suspect that most kids are so worried about their own parents during a divorce that they really don’t even want to think about the add-ons.  Most kids from divorce want to talk about their relationships with their real parents.  They do this not only because of love but also because they are trying to find a place to mirror their genetic traits.  This is done through the strong emotional bonds that exist between biological parents and kids.  When they say that step-parents feel strange to them, they aren’t kidding.  Why do people take this so lightly?

Okay so this post is a total ramble.  I’m just totally stuck on the other thing I’m trying to write and am wasting time on this.



Children of Divorce in the News This Holiday

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  It’s time to let go of what doesn’t work and take on something new that hopefully will work.  If Life were really that easy I suppose I wouldn’t feel quite so stupid saying that.

At any rate, it’s good to take a look at some mistakes that were made this Holiday Season in the hopes that we ourselves will never let things get that out of hand.  We can count our Lucky Stars if this didn’t happen to us.  And those Children of D who have endured the Holidays in silence and have maintained a decent behavior — CONGRATULATIONS!!!  Pat yourself on the back.

The First Story is from Christmas Eve.  In the news is a Horrifying Step-Father story from Covina, California.  Psychotic over the loss of his job and wife, with Divorce final on Dec. 18, Step-Father Bruce Pardo showed up on Christmas Eve at the home of his ex-wife’s parents dressed in a Santa Suit.  The wife, Sylvia, and her children were living here and the family was having a party.  Pardo had packed a bunch of semi-automatics into a box, wrapped it with care, and shot his first victim, an 8 year old child, in the face as she opened the door for him.  He then shot as many other people in the room as he could (I believe the death toll was 9, with 3 injured, the little girl who opened the door has survived).  Pardo then poured gasoline in the house and lit it on fire.  His Santa Suit caught fire and melted on his skin making the planned escape to Canada impossible.  Pardo killed himself later on in the night at his brother’s house.

Ex-wife Sylvia was killed as were her parents.  Sylia’s nephew was killed but Pardo seems to have targeted the adults.  Sylvia’s three children survived but 15 children lost one or both parents.  Story:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-santa-shooting28-2008dec28,0,78314.story

The Second Story is a Christmas Day story.  A great tragedy about the trauma of switching between Mom and Dad’s house comes out of Twin Falls, Idaho on Christmas Day.  Father Robert E. Aragon was driving his children to their Mother’s house when his car got caught in the snow.  He told his children to get out of the car and walk the 10 miles to their Mother’s house in the snow.  The children were in their pajamas.  They got lost and were separated.  The son, Bear, Age 12, found a rest stop bathroom to stay in and was found later that evening. The daughter, Sage, Age 11 was found in the snow the next morning, having passed away from hypothermia.

This is a really difficult story of mis-communications between parents during the stressful Holidays.  An article from the local Twin Falls newspaper says that Aragon had full custody of his children and was simply trying to take them to visit their mother on Christmas Day.  He’s very hard working but he shovels manure for a living  and it sounds like he may have a drug problem.  Hey, shoveling poo everyday while worrying about how to feed your kids, who wouldn’t have a drug problem?  Another story told from the same newspaper tells about the confused communications from the Mother’s point of view:   http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2008/12/29/news/top_story/151765.txt.

May Sage’s soul Rest in Peace and may her brother be okay.  I personally hope that the Judge is lenient with Robert Aragon and insist that he go through Rehab (a long rehab, he’s got a lot to talk about at this point) and to give him job training rather than sentencing him to jail.



Exemplary Children of Divorce – Quincy Jones

I heard Music Composer and Producer Quincy Jones in an interview on NPR this afternoon (Nov. 27 or 28, sorry for late publishing).  Part of the discussion was about Jones’ childhood which he speaks about with a rare openness.  His Mother was schizophrenic and spent much of her life in a mental hospital.  In his Autobiography he describes watching the authorities strapping her in to a straight jacket and hauling her off.  Jones’  Father remarried around the time that Jones was 11 years old and he moved the new family from Chicago to Bremerton in Washington state.  His Step Mother was a bad influence who treated Jones and his younger Brother very badly, giving them less food and clothes than the other children.  I’m listening to the audiobook version of his Autobiography and can’t quote exactly but Jones describes her handling of the children in the Household in that she “Divided the kids into three categories:  His, Hers and Theirs.”  Jones’ schizophrenic Mother periodically escaped the Mental Hospital and eventually followed her sons to Washington where she both terrified them through her illness and tried to stay in touch with them. 

In the interview, Jones describes living in his Father’s household as “living with strangers.”   He gives good advice about how one must not hold these experiences in.  For him this happened mostly by escaping into his music.  It helps that he had huge amounts of talent.  The music industry can be very hard on someone from this background who doesn’t have quite the level of talent  (– that’s just a warning.)

I highly recommend the audiobook.  Most interesting, of course, is listening about Jones’ accomplishments in his profession.  He met Ray Charles, for example, when he was 14 years olds and Charles was 16.  But Jones’ insights into his family are very helpful.  He talks about his anger at his parents and how he blamed his Father for what was happening more than his Mothers “Because he was the one who kept it together.”  This is true.  You really do blame the one the most who is reacting to the whole situation with the least amount of reaction.  He talks about not understanding how he was much less affected by what happened than his younger brother who used to cry every night.

During an Internet search I found this article (http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/jon0int-2) in which he describes his childhood and how his brother’s reaction to the family situation was so much more negative.  I wonder if a lot of the reason for this is , of course, 1) inherited genetic disposition to mental problems  which would be the only thing the psych people consider (which is why they can’t actually help anyone). Birth order (Jones is eldest) could also be a huge factor as I’ve discussed before.  The oldest seem to be the ones who make it out, they always have someone to face the problems with and they always have the youngest to come home to as a stable base.  The youngest have longer exposure to the family and must deal with it by themselves after the oldest have left. They have no stable base.  And, of course, another reason could be that the younger brother didn’t have the talent and/or luck of his older brother.  Jones was extremely gifted and successful from an early age and his talent was recognized.  He found an identity early on outside of the family and left the home early, around Age 16.  This seems to be a key factor in surviving bad Divorce situations.   Those extra years of waiting to get out are a real spirit killer.

I also found an interview with his son Quincy Jones III who also speaks briefly about his parents’ divorce when he was 3 or 4.  He moved with his Mother to Sweden.  He talks about his relationship with his Father, his Mother’s addiction, his childhood, the divorce:

TONY: How much of your parents divorce did you understand and comprehend? I mean, you were pretty young.

QD3: I never thought about it until I turned 15-years-old. My parents got divorced when I was 3 or 4, and me and my mother and sister moved to Sweden. I was probably too young to process it. And I didn’t think about it until I was going through a photo album when I was 15-years-old, and I was like, “Wait a minute, we don’t really know each other that well.” And I’d visit him in L.A. on summer break, but for the rest of the year I was in another country. I would sometimes bring Michael Jackson records to school (in Sweden) to show my friends what my father did, and they would laugh and think I was lying because we lived in public housing. And it kind of struck a nerve, and I started thinking about it a little more. Then I was around 16-years-old, and I moved to East Harlem, New York and later the South Bronx, and then to L.A. Once I moved to L.A., we started bonding a lot more. Now we’re good friends and we’re also very alike in many ways.

TONY: You talked about your mother earlier and her battle with drug addiction. Personally, my mother passed away after a long battle with prescription medication and alcohol. If someone is reading our interview and dealing with a similar situation in their family, what’s your advice on how to deal with it?

QD3: Sorry to hear that, it’s tough, because in my situation I tried to help her my entire life and tried to “fix” the situation. And I was not able to do it. So I would say try to be as objective as you can and try to have compassion for your parents. Also know that it’s not your fault, that’s the main thing.

It’s up to you if you want to break the family cycles. With the pain comes long term benefits, and I might not have been drawn to socially relevant media had it not been for my upbringing and some of the stuff that I went through when I was younger: Having seen both extremes of society first hand (rich/poor), having to grow up quick and moving a lot gave me the tools, drive and empathy that I needed for the job I want do now which is build an (urban) multimedia company (qd3.com) that creates programming of substance that is relatable, empowering, deals with “real” issues, is entertaining and has residual value to viewers. My background gave me the ability to relate to all walks of life and levels of society organically, from the ghetto to the elite, so I feel I was put in a position to build helpful bridges of understanding between various demographics through media. So my advice is believe in yourself and try to find a way to turn your past into a benefit. Painful experiences give you drive, strength and compassion to do bigger things than you would otherwise have been capable of, use it as fuel.

from:  http://www.nobodysmiling.com/hiphop/interview/87592.php



Exemplary Children of Divorce: Sean Wilsey “O The Glory of It All”

While in the bookstore this morning I also picked up a remaindered copy of O The Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey.  I had already tried to listen to the audiobook version of this which wasn’t that great.  Don’t know if it was the narration or what but this book is better off as a “reader.”  (which means that I’ll probably never make it through the whole thing).  This is the Child of D’s version of Dave Eggars’ Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It’s sort of a surreal, larger than life version of Divorce.  Closer to the one I and my friends grew up in than the ones described by the therapists, ah hem….  Wilsey’s parents divorced in 1980 when he was around 9 or 10 years old, but they continued to fight over money for many years after.

Here’s the blurb written on the back of the book:

Sean’s blond bombshell mother regularly entertains Black Panthers and movie stars in the family’s marble and glass penthouse.  His enigmatic father uses a jet helicopter to drop Sean off at the video arcade.  The three live happily together “eight-hundred feet in the air above San Francisco; in an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill:  full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills.”  But when his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend, Sean’s life blows apart.   His memoir shows us how he survived, spinning out a “deliriously searing and convincing” portrait of a wicked stepmother (The New York Times Book Review), a meeting with the pope, disastrous sexual awakenings, and a tour of “the planet’s most interesting reform schools.”

The Step-Mother Dede sounds a lot like my Step-Mother.  Part of Wilsey’s description:

This is what Dede did.  She got to know Mom, found her greatest weakness (pride and vanity), stole her greatest asset (family), mocked Mom’s presence in a world where she didn’t belong (society), lit Mom’s fuse, and watched her explode.

The book starts off like this:

In the beginning we were happy.  And we were always excessive.  So in the beginning we were happy to excess.



Exemplary Children of Divorce – Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey is considered one of Louis “Leakey’s Angels.” Louis Leakey was a famous Archaeologist who encouraged 3 women to work with primates in order to understand their behaviors. These women include Jane Goodall who works with Chimpanzees and Birute Galdikas who works with Orangutans and Dian Fossey who worked with Gorillas. Of these women it’s Dian Fossey who was the Child of Divorce. (I have since realized that Jane Goodall is from Divorce as well and have added a post for her).  Although these women seem to have an innate understanding of animals that few possess it would be understandable that Children of Divorce would turn to animals to compensate for the simple, unconditional love and understanding that’s lacking in their own lives. Unfortunately, pets are often considered too much of a burden in single parent households.

Fossey was born in San Francisco, California in 1932. I’m not sure about this but I think her parents divorced when she was around 4 years old. Her Mother remarried a year later when Dian was five. Fossey was emotionally closest to her Father but he was a sailor in the Navy and left after the Divorce. She wasn’t close to her Mother or Step-Father, a building contractor who made her eat in the kitchen with the servants. She loved animals but wasn’t allowed to have any after her one Goldfish died. Opposing her Step-Father’s wishes that she go to secretarial school, Fossey first went to school to become a Veterinarian but switched to Occupational Therapy. She worked at a Hospital for a while and eventually met Louis Leakey who helped her to go on to earn a Ph.d. in Zoology at Cambridge University and to work with the Gorillas.

Fossey had a complicated love life and was considered an eccentric personality by some. She seems to have been caught up by all kinds of political problems with the Tourist Industry and with Poachers in Africa. She was murdered on Dec. 26, 1985 in Rwanda. No one knows for sure who her murder may have been. Fossey left her estate to a fund to protect the Gorillas but her Mother contested the will and won.

Dian Fossey was the 1st human to have friendly contact with a gorilla and the first to study the Mountain Gorillas long term. Her autobiography Gorillas in the Mist was made into a movie. Farley Mowat wrote a book about her called Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey in which he explores reasons for her death.

From Wikipedia:

Dian Fossey is interred at a site in Rwanda that she herself had constructed for her dead gorilla friends. She believed that all beings had the same rights and that they needed to be treated with the same respect as humans. She was buried in the gorilla graveyard next to Digit, who was killed and beheaded in 1978, and near many gorillas killed by poachers.




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