Spoiled Children of Divorce

Success Story – Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker is the daughter of the poet Alice Walker & Mel Leventhal, a famous civil rights lawyer. She is a feminist and writer herself and has written about growing up in a mixed race family(ies) and of her parents’ divorce in Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self. Time Magazine has named her one of the 50 Future Leaders of America.

Rebecca’s parents divorced when she was in the 3d grade. She switched back and forth between her parents, 2 years with one then 2 years with the other which meant that not only was she living with 2 separate parental households, but she was living on different coasts in the U.S. every other year, as well as having to living with biracial ethnicity. “Exhausting” is how she now describes bouncing between families of two races and two religions. She went through a drug phase and got pregnant when she was 14. When she was 18 she switched her last name from her Father’s surname to her Mother’s.

She is bisexual and has currently had a baby boy. She is estranged from her Mother. Her most recent book is about her attitudes and experiences with Motherhood.

Here’s a quote and link from a 2001 article about Walker’s book:


Trapped in a destructive cycle, needing to re-invent herself every couple of years (and having had little clue as to who she was in the first place), Rebecca found she belonged simultaneously to two worlds and to none. Not surprisingly, some of the adjustments she made took on a racial twist: Denying part of herself each time she shuffled from city to city, from Jewish to black, from status-quo middle class to radical-artist bohe-mian, she trained herself to keep the code, not to say anything too white when she was with friends from the inner city, not to say anything too black when she was at Jewish summer camp.

But mostly Rebecca Walker’s story, as she tells it, is about raising herself. Her mother bragged in interviews that she and her daughter were like sisters, but as Rebecca points out, “being my mother’s sister doesn’t allow me to be her daughter.” So while Alice Walker was off on speaking engagements, sometimes for days on end, her “sister” Rebecca was choosing her own high school, taking drugs, having sex and generally fending for herself.

“Unaccompanied Minors”
December 25, 2007, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Books, links to articles, Movies About Growing Up in Divorce

Here’s a link to a special Holiday Story called “Unaccompanied Minors” written by Susan Burton from her website.  http://www.susanburton.net/unaccompanied_minors/.

It’s about being a kid from a divorced family and having to travel between Mom and Dad’s house during the Holidays.  I believe it was originally broadcast over NPR and then made into a movie.  So grap the popcorn, and Mom, or Dad, whichever one you’re with.  Warning about something that all kids from Divorce know but I’ll say it out loud because I’m feeling generous:  If you make them feel guilty they’ll accuse you of being manipulative (and so will the shrinks).

Elizabeth Marquardt talks about the impact that seeing this movie had on her in her book Between Two Worlds. She was around 2 years old when her parents split so this means that she spent 16 Christmases like this. I was 14 when my parents split and they stayed in the same town.  Two sets of dysfunctional families in one day is pretty intense as well.

Nellie Bly
December 25, 2007, 6:57 am
Filed under: Exemplary Children of Divorce | Tags:

Nellie Bly was a 19th century journalist, author, industrialist and charity worker. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1864 to an upper middle class family. Her Father died when she was 6 and left a great deal of his money to his children from his previous marriage so her family struggled with financial problems. Her Mother remarried an abusive man when Bly was 9 and then divorced him for this reason when Nellie was 14. Nellie had to testify at the trial and this had a deep impact on her. Bly became a journalist when she wrote a letter to the Editor of her newspaper in regards to a chavinist opinion in one of its articles. From then on spoke out on behalf of the underprivileged. She took her name from a Stephen Foster song “Nellie Bly.”

Bly reported on bad working conditions of female factory workers and took off to Mexico by herself to work as a foreign correspondent. She had herself committed to an insane asylum in order to report on the deplorable conditions in a famous Mental institution for her famous piece “10 days in a Madhouse.” This led to huge government reforms. Probably her greatest stunt was traveling around the world by herself in 72 days as inspired by the Jules Verne novel. She became a huge media star.

Bly married a man who was more than 40 years her senior and and took over his company after he died. She applied for several patents and was known for a time as one of the leading female industrialists of her time. It seems she wasn’t gifted with money management skills, though, and declared Bankruptcy. After this time she returned to Journalism and Charity work.

Success Story – Natalie Merchant
December 19, 2007, 10:27 pm
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Natalie Merchant is a Platinum selling Singer/Songwriter who achieved early fame in 1981 as lead singer with the group 10,000 maniacs and then later on in her own solo career.

Her parents divorced in 1972 when Natalie was around 10 years old.  She was raised by her mother and her Mother remarried in 1975. Merchant left High School when she was 16.

She has been recently named Person of the Week by ABC News for her work in bringing awareness to the Homeless.  Here’s the link:  http://abcnews.go.com/WN/PersonOfWeek/story?id=3846275&page=1.

Success Story – Ellen Degeneres
December 19, 2007, 10:14 pm
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Ellen Degeneres is one of the funniest women on Earth. She’s also an Astrology Buff’s Celebrity Dream come true because she gives exact dates for her parent’s divorce. At least the Wikipedia article lists them.

Degeneres has succeeded on stage as a Stand Up Comedian and on TV with her own TV shows. She broke through taboos in opening up the world to Gays when she allowed her character to come out of the closet on her TV show. She has written books and now has a popular Talk show. She loves animals.

Ellen grew up in Louisiana. Her parents split in 1973 when she was 15. Her Mother remarried soon after and they moved to Texas.

Successful Children of Divorce – Dare Wright
December 19, 2007, 10:01 pm
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Dare Wright was the author of The Lonely Doll children’s book series.  In her 40s, she wrote stories that centered around one of her dolls from childhood and illustrated them with exquisite black & white photographs. She was born in Canada and her parents split when she was under 3 years old.  Wright was raised by her Mother, a portrait painter, in Ohio.  Her Father took her brother whom she didn’t see again until she was in her 20s.  Wright had a very close, complicated relationship with her Mother.  According to Wikipedia, Julian Schnabel is making a movie of her life which will be out in 2009.

Here’s a link to a website dedicated to Dare Wright:  http://www.darewright.com/

was the daughter of a portrait painter mother. Her parents divorced before she was 3 years old. Wright had a very close relationship with her Mother her whole life. She became successful for her “Lonely Doll” series of children’s books. The photographs are really lovely. A book has been written about Wright called _____________________.

Successful Children of Divorce – Brian De Palma
December 19, 2007, 7:42 am
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Brian De Palma is a famous filmmaker of scary movies.  He says that he started filmmaking while tracking his Father with video equipment in order to catch his infidelities.  I’m not sure what age he was when this was going on.  I just read a forum of complaining stepmothers talking about their evil stepchildren.  One woman set cameras up all over the house to catch her stepdaughter in the act. Maybe she should make her own scary movies.  Are these things all on YouTube now?