Spoiled Children of Divorce


Exemplary Children of Divorce – Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner is author of the book The Art of Happyness which was made into an excellent movie starring Will Smith.

Gardner is an extremely successful Stockbroker and Motivational Speaker. He has written about his troubled childhood, his failed marriage, his bout with homelessness while holding onto his son. Everything was working against him. But he was accepted into a prestigious training program in a stockbroker program which led to his eventual incredible success owning his own Stock Brokerage firm. His story is pretty unbelievable and Gardner is now working to share his attitudes and survival skills with others in order to inspire them.

I’m listening to the audiobook version of his book which I highly recommend. It’s really interesting how these super successful people’s attitudes towards their experiences are just slightly different from the rest of us.

Gardner was the product of a relationship that his Mother had with a married man. He rarely saw his own Father growing up. His Mother married a highly abusive man so the entire family was subjected to an abusive step-father. This man reported Gardner’s Mother for defrauding Welfare when she threatened to leave him. This landed her in jail and Gardner and his older sister into Foster Homes for about 3 years. I’m not clear about his age (listening to audiobook so details fly on by) at this point; I think he was around 2 or 3 years old. His Mother still didn’t Divorce his step-father but had two more kids with the guy. He hit her once with a 2×4 which landed her in the hospital. Gardner witnessed this. Then his Mother tried to kill the stepfather by burning the house down with him in it. She went to jail again.

It’s interesting to focus on Gardner’s descriptions of these scenes to see what kind of a mindset can survive this. You can see this in how he describes his stepfather.

For one, he’s open and honest about the behavior. (In my family everyone literally “forget” what had happened. Well, alcohol helps with that. I “survived” by keeping a clear idea of what was going on and then, later on, I couldn’t handle my rage.) For example, instead of describing his Step-Father as a Monster like I probably would have, Gardner describes him as a Turbulent Weather System who would storm in and out of the house aiming his rifle at whatever he was angry with. I like how much more impersonal it is to think of a Weather System rather than a Being. You can kill a Monster, or subdue it, or at least think you can imagine that you can. A weather system must be allowed to exist. Another example, Gardner says that his step-father was actually “His University” on how not to behave. Gardner knew by living with this man that he must learn to be literate, must never abuse anyone, must never drink to excess. So, at a very young age, he was able to find guidance from this “Reverse Role Model.” And it appears that he held onto those goals. (I think that I just developed other unhealthy obsessions and traits. They were like my parents’, but different. Instead of Alcohol, Drugs, and Sex I became Anorexic.)

When Gardner’s Mother “disappeared” again when he was 8 years old (went to jail for burning the house down); he and his older sister lived with an Aunt and Uncle. He was never told what was going on and gives an excellent description of how he never knew what to expect from life from minute to minute. His closest relative was his Sister and his Aunt and Uncle put her in Detention when she was 12 years old. Gardner didn’t have a clue why.

Another thing, Gardner is a real stickler for proper writing and grammar.  “Happyness” in the title is from an episode where he became angry about the mispelling.  As I’m pretty sloppy in this area it’s really difficult to actually write this.  I just hate to edit.


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The pursuit of happiness is a movie that shows a person does not have to stay in their troubles they can and will overcome for the better this movie taught me to stick with it and when life knocks you down get back up fighting for a better you thank you Mr Gardner thank you Will smith well done my friend well done

Comment by Frances




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