Spoiled Children of Divorce

We’re Still Family
January 2, 2008, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Books, links to articles, therapy | Tags: ,

Here’s a link to a review of Constance Ahron’s book called We’re Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parent’s Divorce written by Elizabeth Marquardt called “The Bad Divorce.”


I highly recommend reading this as Marquardt speaks as a researcher who actually grew up in a divorce. The last psychiatrist I went to was a single Mother and refused to let me talk about trauma from growing up in a divorced family because it made her defensive. She suggested that I find a therapist to discuss my concerns with. I asked if she could refer me to one who had actually grown up in a divorce so I wouldn’t have to worry about hurting any feelings since most therapists are divorced and extremely defensive about effects on kids, it’s important to ask these questions). She said something like (and I’m not kidding): “Oh that wouldn’t be something you ask, it’s personal.”

So, trust me, Marquardt is telling the truth.

4 Comments so far
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So sad to read about children and adults negatively affected by divorce and bitterness years later. I believe much of that can be prevented by enlightening parents about how to put their children’s needs first when facing decisions related to divorce.

Do keep in mind that staying together for the sake of the kids can be just as destructive and emotionally devastating to children. Toxic families leave toxic scars regardless of whether divorce is involved or not. Let’s work together to awaken parents to the consequences of their behaviors upon their children and show them how to create child-centered families — whether they are in tact, separated or divorced. Read more articles on this subject at http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

Best wishes,

Comment by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Hi Rosalind,

Thank you for sharing your beliefs and your business address.

I think you minimize the problems that are created for the kids, though, as mere “bitterness.” What about their scars? The parents are kidding themselves in most cases if they think they are doing them any favors.

The problems are long term for the kids because they have to live with all the chaos for the rest of their lives. Unlike the parents they don’t choose this lifestyle, it is foisted upon them. They have to live with taking care of two completely different sets of parents as they get older and they have to deal with all kinds of difficult inheritance issues with step-families. These are genuine problems.

People who go into one bad relationship generally just jump into another one, the miracle relationship still doesn’t arrive, so the kids end up with two sets of unbearable families instead of one. Unfortunately that’s the reality and the parents should accept that in many cases they are simply chasing rainbows.

If you ever paid attention to the kids you would know what this. You are selling the parents a bill of goods if you tell them otherwise.

And that aside I do think that single parent and blended families need a whole lot of support from the community. But parents need to understand what they are doing to their kids.

Comment by toothless

As much as you and your step parents may love one another it doesn’t mean anything to the legal system unless you are adopted. Found this out after my dad passed away and step-mom had to prove that we officially weren’t her children, though at the time both my sister and I were adults (don’t know why this was necessary—probably had to do with money issues). It was weird to have to validate our non-familial status after spending 23+ years making the effort to be one. I know that this doesn’t mean real affection can’t exist in step families, because it certainly does. I’m just saying that step families aren’t “real” families to the rest of society, and when it comes down to it these ties aren’t supported by the legal system, or at least they weren’t in our case. I always get a laugh when I see sites that try to give step families advice for being successful. How can they ever be when they’re not even real?! And why can’t step-families be considered real even if both biological parents are still involved in their children’s lives? If this were the case then having a step family could indeed be beneficial to children, so long as they were loving step-relationships and not abusive as is so often experienced. However, when step parents can’t make decisions with their step children—normal, familial financial or medical decisions—then they can’t really help one another through many of life’s difficulties. Maybe it’s not like this everywhere, but this is what happened to me, so that is why I’m writing about it. I never realized as we were growing up that this was a problem, it mainly affected us after our dad passed away. It was like a heavy kick in the face. The world giving us the finger for being a step family. I guess then, to be successful as a step family, the first step is to adopt (if you can). Then you “count.” Otherwise, you’re just strangers living a lie in the same household.

I’d love to learn about a healthier viewpoint on this situation if anyone reads this response. I was just heartbroken and angered by the way society treated my step family when we needed support, instead of a reminder of our very painful differences.

Comment by Laura

Hi Laura,

That is an interesting comment about legalities of step-parenting. Just at the moment of grief when you’re trying to support each other, the legal system brings up the old wounds. But, the legal system will never deal with this well. And when people are willing to cooperate usually there aren’t real problems anyway. My case was different. My step-mother took advantage of some legal loop-holes so she didn’t have to deal with sharing the inheritance. It was such a relief to have her out of our lives, we didn’t fight it which was probably a big mistake.

Comment by wristwatch

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