Spoiled Children of Divorce


The Dumped Parent
February 28, 2008, 6:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have such a love-hate relationship with statistics. I completely hate the way they reduce everything to simple numbers and yet I’m really curious about them. Here’s one I’m wondering about today: What percentage of Children are left to be “raised” by a parent who has been dumped by the other parent.

This, of course, means that the child must become the parent’s parent as said parent crawls back into the fetal position for however long it takes to recover from being dumped. And, of course, this is the child’s introduction to Romance. And, of course, this is the child’s introduction to cooking and cleaning and psychotherapying and being a friend and staying out of the way and failing at something and being blamed for looking & acting like the other parent. Simple childhood type activities. Because, truth is, when one parent dies, the neighbors show up with casseroles. When your parents divorce the neighbors gossip about you behind your back and avoid you until they’re sure you’re ok.

It seems that hanging with the parent who leaves might be slightly more positive of an experience. There’s something empowering about being on the side of the parent who made a conscious decision.  Then I remember Tobias Wolfe’s story About A Boy (I only saw the movie). Wolfe got to live with the transient Mother who made Mistakes. His childhood became Hell but it seems that he retained a feeling that he could move on with his life.

I wonder what this is like in comparison to being left with the Dumped Parent. The parent who is feeling stupid and rejected.

I suppose living with the dumped parent means that you automatically learn that you have no control over life. It’s a good lesson on how to have low-self-esteem.

So, there are so many books and movies about recovering from being dumped. Do they ever show how the kid had to deal with you while you are being dumped.  The walking on the eggshells and the making up of the lies for everyone outside the home in order to cover up for what’s lacking? Some flip out. Some act out. One of my teachers asked me what was wrong. No one thought I was particularly brave that’s for sure. As a matter of fact they thought I was sort of sad and creepy.

All parents assume that the parent is still parenting. The parents’ friends like to remind the child that the parent is going through a difficult time and needs whatever he needs. If the child feels needy about needy anything. Meanwhile the parents friends find that it’s too difficult to maintain relations and usually pick a side.  The kids have to stick around with both sides.

The Parent who gets left behind. The parent who gets dumped. Going through rejection, fear, unloveability, the ground being yanked out from under. The kid still has to keep a relationship with this parent while his other parent does not. This is a lonely, sad experience, especially at such an intimate level of relationship.

Either way the kid has to immediately adopt incredible amounts of sophisticated relationship skills well beyond his years and he has to do it alone without the help of any adults because the adults don’t even understand what’s going on.

The adults assure the child that he is still loved and will be provided for. Talk. All Talk. The kid will believe it but his actual life tells him the exact opposite thing. If he thinks anything else this means he is spoiled. He simply must not talk. All is a secret. The outside world must not know and certainly won’t ask.

When one of the parents wants to be on his own then the kid is also on his own. He must remain a poker face, not show reaction to anything or the parent will feel guilt in addition to all his other problems.

The kid is also on his own with regards to his siblings who are all now in fierce underhanded competition to grab the most attention. There’s a MadMax type of vibe among siblings. There isn’t as much Love to go around, certainly no acceptance, so the competition gets really stiff.

Often the siblings will become closer as a protective thing. The adult influence simply disappears or becomes a silly joke that must be tolerated.

Truthfully, adults who marry, have kids and divorce are simply not that sophisticated themselves. They have no ability to project ahead in time, or to see how their actions affect others.


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