Spoiled Children of Divorce

“Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters”
November 30, 2007, 7:00 am
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , ,

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters is a fun and interesting book written by two psychologists Alan S. Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa which tries to explains differences in people. Here are some comments about Divorce:

1.  Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce, especially in wealthy families.  A couple of different reasons are offered such as the Sons need a Father figure and Wealth passes down through families.  I don’t think anyone mentioned that boys are simply more valued and are also often a handful to deal with from a behavioral point of view.

2.  Girls of divorced parents experience puberty earlier, especially if the divorced happens before they are five.  Again a couple of different reasons are offered but nobody mentions that kids in divorced families are exposed to sex a lot earlier and often listen to their parent’s relationship struggles.  Kids from divorced families tend to know their astrological charts a lot earlier too.  This wasn’t mentioned in the book but I just thought I would mention it because I see it as being a positive thing.

3.  Deadbeat Dads.  In 1991 statistics, 25 percent of mothers received no child support from the fathers.  52 percent said that they only received a portion of the support that was decided by the court.

Studies About Divorce
November 29, 2007, 5:21 am
Filed under: Books, links to articles, Uncategorized | Tags:

A few studies have been published for the general public about kids from divorced families at this point. The Scientific ones performed by Psychologists that I’ve come across seem a little biased and limited in their understandings of what questions to ask. They are studies of between 100-200 people who live in one area of the United States. Is it Politically Incorrect to admit that they seem to always have been White?

I haven’t read any of the findings all the way through so please read them for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Sorry, I’m just a really slow and emotional reader. Some day I hope to make it through Judith Wallerstein’s book because the problems she’s located are specific to my own problems, problems that have to do with economic and education supports. The other researchers discount her studies because they say that many of her subjects were mentally ill. Well, yeah, what do you expect? In my experience the kids who aren’t mentally ill are emotionally either blank or numb.

Although I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a therapist to work with who actually grew up in a Divorced Family I have dated one. This guy literally went by 2 names. That’s what happens when you make your kid celebrate two Christmases and two Birthdays every year. Either way this guy’s answering machine (long time ago before voicemail) took forever to play through all his damn names. He had had a very violent Father so the divorce was necessary and from the looks of it came a little too late. Can you imagine being one of his patients, though?

So, here are the studies. The ones I know about are by women. You know the types if you’ve ever been in for the family counseling therapy. Barrel Shaped with Shoulder Pads and scarf around the neck. Actually, I don’t know what Judith Wallerstein looks like. I imagine her to be pretty.

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study. Judith Wallerstein. Best in Class by a long shot (my opinion of course). 100+ kids from Marin County in California. I should check the spelling on her name.

For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered. Mavis Heatherington. This is a study of 120-200 kids in Pennsylvania. Heatherington’s kind of mean. She said that she could detect some problems in many of the kids and realized that they probably weren’t as happy as they otherwise would have been but it didn’t really matter.

The Good Divorce. Constance Ahrons. Psychotic divorcing parents will love this book because it completely lets them off the hook by comparing their kids with some nice, 120 +/-, unquestioning white kids in a suburb in Ohio. If these kids or their parents had had mental illness or were non conformist in any way the parents would have moved to California long ago, hence the lack of mental illness in her test subjects. Plus, Ahrons actually lives in California herself and if she doesn’t have a DSM # herself she should go get one.

There are two really great books out that are written by women who actually grew up in Divorced Families so I tend to value these books much more.

The first is The Love They Lost: Living with the Legacy of Our Parent’s Divorce by Stephanie Staal. Ms. Staal’s parents divorced when she was 13. In this book she gives anecdotal stories about how people feel about growing up in families. The book is well-written. While working on her MFA, Staal put ads in newspapers across the country and used about 120 different people to get a cross cut of different stories. Here’s a link to an interview with her: http://www.enotalone.com/article/4508.html. I think I have read through most of this book.

The Second is Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce by Elisabeth Marquardt. Marquardt performed a genuine National study with control groups and everything. She only included opinions of people who were successful in some way by graduating in college or by succeeding early in their careers in order to determine if healthy, well-adjusted adults had She puts what seems to me like a very early age limit on her subjects, only including people whose parents divorced before they turned 13. One problem is that Marquardt is strongly religious and conservative and much of her study seems to be a marketing tool for Catholicism. I’m leery of this kind of thing because I listened to a set of audiotapes about divorce once that was created by a Christian Church to draw people in. The first tape helped you feel sorry for yourself. The second tape was practically screaming scripture into your ears. Marquardt weaves her own memories in with the results from her studies. She was very young when her parents divorced and she describes what it’s like to be a child who has to travel back and forth between homes. All the statistics from her research are in the back of the book and are fascinating.

I’m really debating whether or not to “publish” this. I’ll probably come back to these books again with a completely different attitude.

“Important Things That Don’t Matter”
November 26, 2007, 6:35 am
Filed under: Books | Tags:

Important Things That Don’t Matter by David Amsden is a really great novel that follows a boy through his childhood as he deals with his divorced parents.  The Boy narrates the story from the point of view of a 20-year old college dropout and it’s written in the tone that 20 year olds speak so it is very light hearted.  Meanwhile it talks about his difficult relationships with his Father who is a ne’er do well and his Mother who is the strength in his life.  Just at the moments when things get really tense the story is told with so much humor at how ridiculous things are that you find yourself laughing.  What impresses me most is how the story is told.  The narration tells two completely different stories at the same time which is probably a big problem in retelling of Divorce stories.  The kids are living two completely different stories at the same time.  It holds together because the narrator’s personality is so well-drawn.

Some of the odd little observations about Divorce are pretty interesting.
“…me and Mom were eating dinner at Boston Market, that fast food place that I swear is designed for divorced people and their kids — you know, so they can order an eighth of a turkey and string beans and pretend they still have a huge family or something.  Me and Mom weren’t like this, though.  We just loved the butternut squash.”  p.117

“I think when you get a father like mine you’re especially interested in real adults, you sort of search them out.  It’s like a hobby.”

“I’ve noticed that divorced parents often have these types of acquaintances:  people who just seem to show up, but were really there the whole time.”

Writing for Healing
November 25, 2007, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Books, Healing | Tags: , ,

As critical as I am of Psychologists I can still recognize that some of them have done some good work.  One is Dr. James Pennebaker who has proved that writing can help a person get through a difficult emotional time.  Dr. Pennebaker has found that a very simple exercise can help a person to improve his/her attitudes about life by a large degree.  I like simplicity.  The exercise is here:  http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2005/writing.html.  Pennebaker has written a book but I don’t have the title.

Other people are also working in this field.  I tend to prefer taking classes from real writers because they emphasize training one to observe the world around more clearly rather than just ranting on a page.  But, you know, whatever.  One great beginning exercise I learned in a class was just to sit down and write a sentence describing the room you’re in by way of only one of your senses.  Taste, Vision, Smell, Hearing, Touch.  After that, describe the room through another sense.  Then pick another sense.  Then give up unless you’re really obsessive.  It’s interesting to see which senses you choose.  Anyway, almost always this makes me appreciate the gifts of where I am much more than when I first started.

And, of course, if your house is filthy and the yard is a mess and your drunk Mommy is screaming at her drunk boyfriend because he just stumbled over the lamp and broke it, then the “gifts” in your life exist at a very, very deep level.  You might want to hide what you write, in other words.

Self Defense
November 25, 2007, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I recommend learning some form of Self Defense for kids who grow up in any family where there is abuse.  You will observe people who don’t understand how to fight and there’s a good chance you will follow in their footsteps as either Abuser or Victim.  In Divorce families there’s also a lot Betrayal, Infidelity, Sabotage, Deceit and a lot of early exposure to very negative relationship styles as your parents barter and finagle for themselves through the court systems. So it’s good to just discipline yourself in how to handle your body and how to think about an opponent.  Most martial arts teach “Self Defense” not “Bullying” or “Attacking” for no reason other than that you’re pissed off about your life.

You want to force yourself to do things which are empowering.  If you are weak in one area, try to strengthen it.  Kids from Divorced families often don’t have solid support structures.  Your Parents probably love you as much as anything but if you have a problem and they aren’t around due to work or dating or just being burned out you must learn to teach yourself.

Dance is also a great release because it encourages Gracefulness and how to harmonize with others in a happy, expressive way.  But you also must be careful.  I became anorexic a few months after my father left.  This coincided with beginning to take Modern Dance classes at school and those leotards combined with bad body image and family stress really led down a bad path.

November 25, 2007, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Nutrition | Tags:

Kids from Divorced families will go either in opposite directions regarding how their diet. Lack of supervision and eating alone brings this out.  Kids seem to either become hypervigilant about taking care of themselves through their diet or will, like me, become almost abusive to their bodies.

If you’re one of the ones who doesn’t eat right and is compulsively addicted to sugar I can only recommend one diet tip that I have found so far.  This is to be sure to eat Protein in the morning.  Eat it along with Carbohydrates and Fats.  Eggs or Cheese with some kind of Spinach or Tomatoes and buttered toast is great.  When I do this I find that I make better eating choices through the rest of the day.  Protein burns slowly and the Carbs burn quickly so one fills you up fast and the other sustains you. Always try to eat a few different types of food at the same time.  If you don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not healthy educate yourself.  Unfortunately potato chips are unhealthy and they taste extremely good.

I’ve recently found another secret to the sugar problem.  You can eat sugar, but just don’t eat a lot of it.  And don’t eat it with anything high in Calcium.  According to a Nutritionist named Dr. Nancy Appleton the chemistry between sugar and calcium creates a toxicity in the body to which some people are abnormally sensitive to.  It can create digestive problems or even nervous disorders which can become really bad if you’re living in a stressful environment.  I’ve always been a nail biter.  Early on I started clipping my fingernails but continued to bite the cuticles around them.  And then again almost my entire diet was Milk products and sugar.  I was using the cheese and milk to calm myself down from all the sugar I was eating!  Dr. Appleton’s website is http://www.nancyappleton.com.  She explains the chemistry very well.    This actually means that foods like yogurt mixed with sugary berries can be bad for you so it’s kind of an odd attitude towards diet.

November 24, 2007, 9:19 am
Filed under: links to articles | Tags:

News article about a man in Maryland, David Peter Brockdorff, who met his ex-wife and 3 kids in a park supposedly to pick the kids up from for a visit.  He shot and killed everyone and then killed himself.  http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/23/park.deaths.ap/index.html?iref=mpstoryview.

I certainly don’t have anything against getting a divorce from someone who is violent.  I wonder what was going on in the Mother’s mind though, when she dropped the kids off with her ex-husband.  He had had a history of violence. This woman left because she obviously didn’t feel safe with the guy but she was allowing him to take the kids who were expected to fend for themselves without any supervision or protection. What if one of the children acted out of line?  Children are known to do that.  And this guy can’t handle stress.

I suppose that somebody should give the kids guns during parental visits so they can protect themselves.

West Coast

There’s a Phenomenon called “The Emerald Flash.” This is a Bolt of Green light that is said to sometimes be visible for a split second just as the Sun sets over the Ocean. I grew up in a beach town in California and my Mother used to make a game out of staring at the Sunset to see if we could see this Green Light. She said that one of her boyfriends had said that he had seen it. The West Coast, especially California, is a haven for Single Moms looking for a new life. I think they’re all looking for the God Damned Emerald Flash. As an adult, I’ve lived next door to a couple of women who have moved to California, and, not being able to afford the rent for a big place, have set up a little “Bedroom” for their kid in the closet of their studio apartment. Probably I’m over-reacting but they never seem like the happiest neighbors in the world. I suppose these women expose their kids to a life full of hopes and dreams and the sense that anything is possible. Several of the kids have become famous writers and have written books, either memoir or fiction about the Single Momdums of their childhoods and teens.

The big classic in this “genre” is James M. Cain’s famous 1930s novel, Mildred Pierce, about a Mother who works to raise her daughter in a certain style and then the daughter runs off with Mildred’s husband. I think this is the old school Single Mom story. Nowadays I think it might be more appropriate that Mom runs off with the daughter’s boyfriend or husband.

Mona Simpson wrote an incredible book about a young girl and her Mother who move to California in the 1970s in Anywhere But Here.  Was there a movie of this?

Tobias Wolfe wrote a memoir about his boyhood called This Boy’s Life. His Mom meant to bring him to California but somehow the two ended up in Washington. The book tells about the struggles to survive and his awful relationship with his Step-Father. I’ve only seen the movie.  It starred Robert de Niro, Ellen Barkin, and Leonardo di Caprio and was unbelievably depressing.

Two Blogs and an Adventure in Comedy
November 23, 2007, 5:01 am
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Here are a couple of Links that I’ve just found where people are trying to provide information about growing up in Splitsville. These people are gentle. I’m unencumbered.

generationacd.blogspot.com // The writer, Sharon Cole calls people who grew up in the 70’s the Generation ACD. That’s very cute.


This is a really depressing subject to try to write about. I went to a comedy club in New York a few years ago. A comic got up on stage and asked if anyone in the audience was from a divorced family. Only one woman raised her hand. I just sat there mute and I couldn’t raise my hand. I guess others just didn’t want to go there either. I remember feeling a sense of total futility. The comic said it wouldn’t be worth trying his jokes out on us.

How Will This Help Me Raise My Kids?
November 22, 2007, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“How will this help me raise my kids?”

This is the question that Divorced Parents use when they hear anyone talking about growing up in a divorced family.  They want everyone know that they can’t handle the guilt of raising kids in a less than perfect environment. Everyone must take care of the Parents’ feelings. The Parents need the help. The kids need to remain silent, repress all feelings in order for the Parent to do his “job.”

My question is: “Why the eff didn’t you ask that question when you had the kids?”

My advice is: Shut Up Parents! Let the kids talk. Encourage it. Otherwise nobody’s going to know what’s going on and how to help them. If you thought you could run another human being through this kind of life style you should have taken up tennis or ping pong or some other sport where a ball bounces back and forth between players really really fast. You need to shut up and listen. It’s nice that you want to be happy and improve your life.  But, if you married an unloving person in the first place you will probably marry an unloving person in the second place. There is a chance that you are just a miserable person or an unrealistic person. That’s ok, we’re all humans. We forgive you. Just let the kids exist too.

Families are secret things. Nobody plays along with that game more than the kids. The whole point for a kid is to fit in and look normal to the outside world. In order to do this, the kid will probably remain silent. Fear does that. Terror works.

I’m not even against Divorce. People make mistakes. Problem is people need to fix their “mistakes” rather than sweep them under the rug like a couple of little rats.

I just can’t believe the Parent’s attitudes, that’s all.