Spoiled Children of Divorce

Ursula K. Le Guin
April 23, 2008, 9:27 pm
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Interesting views about marital relationships discussed here.  From a 2001 interview by Nick Gevers called “Driven By A Different Chauffeur:  An Interview With Ursula K. Le Guin:” 

The O stories — “Mountain Ways” and “Unchosen Love” — are (like the earlier “Another Story”) set in a society divided into two elaborate moieties and practicing a profoundly cumbersome marital system. Would such a four-person hetero- and homo-sexual menage be practical? Or is this “sedoretu” system a thought experiment, a satiric or parodic construct?
Well, writing the stories, I thought of the sedoretu as pure thought-experiment — a highly enjoyable tool for exploring human relations and emotions. I hadn’t exactly thought of it as satirical. We are so good at making life difficult for ourselves, not least by inventing almost impossible customs. Monogamous lifelong heterosexual marriage is such a peculiar institution that it hardly seems to need to be made fun of. But of course if you make marriage even harder than it is, involving four people instead of two, and homosexuality as well as heterosexuality, it gets even more interesting. At least, it does to me. But I find all cumbersome cultural constructs and customs interesting. I am an anthropologist’s daughter, after all.

You ask if the sedoretu would be practical. I don’t know. Is monogamous heterosexual marriage practical? I don’t know. My husband and I have done it for forty-eight years, but that could just be luck, and a bit of practice.


Michael Apted’s “Married in America” (2)
April 22, 2008, 1:11 am
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Just watched a DVD called Married in America 2 by Michael Apted, an English filmmaker.  This is the second of a series that follows couples through the first 12 years of their marriage.  It is like his 7 Up documentary series which is a course of interviews that Apted’s been following every 7 years since the people were, well, 7 years old.  I think the latest movie produced is called 49 Up so this series has become a real social commentary.

This new series follows 9 couples.  The first movie was filmed in 2001 and this latest one was filmed in 2006.  My interest, of course, was to see how Divorce figures in.  It really is kept kind of low key.  Two of the couples have divorced.  It seemed that one couple maybe tried to get back together again for the sake of the film.  The other couple, a Biker couple, started their relationship while the husband was in jail so I sort of figured they were picked sort of coldly for the potential that their marriage had to go straight down the tubes.  These two couples both suffered serious personal traumas such as Health problems and deaths of relatives in the first years of their marriages.  An upwardly mobile Urban New York couple married right before 9/11 dug a whole in what was pretty much their back yard.  They are still together.

Only two people interviewed talked about their parents’ divorces which I thought was odd.

It seems that most couples are still in the upwardly mobile phase of their relationships.

What I did notice was the willingness for the Children of D to seek out counseling for their relationship problems because they say they are aware of the problems that their parents’ had.  This is funny since most psychologists don’t counsel for issues specific to problems of Children of D.   I’ve actually heard two people say that going through their own divorce was the best therapy for getting over their parents’ divorce.  Perhaps that’s the only answer.

A lot of subtle problems come up that most of my married friends have gone through.  It’s a lot like listening to one’s friends talk about their marriages.  Money problems and extra-marital affairs aren’t discussed although it seems that Apted chose some couples purposely to bring up those problems. The people picked have a good film presence and are actually very interesting to watch.  It will be interesting to see how many of them survive the 7 year itch.

Woman Going Through a Divorce
April 17, 2008, 5:55 am
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I added this link earlier and it has since been deleted from my blog along with some other posts.  Go WordPress!

Here’s a link to a video of a woman going through a Divorce.  She married an older, rich, successful man.  Didn’t sign a pre-nup and has now made a video letting people know that the guy screwed her.  Well, financially.  She’s claiming that they never had sex.

True to form, there’s a picture of some kid sitting in the background.  Everything’s blocked from view but her legs.  I assume that another kid is filming the video.  The Woman shows the family pictures and blames everything on the step-daughter.  She says the step-daughter is … you guessed it … evil.  I really wish the woman had shown us her medicine cabinet because she’s definitely gorked out on some serious psych drugs.

Anyway, here it is.  This is what Children of Divorce come home to everyday after school.  Day after Day.  Year after year.  It’s kind of funny, it’s really tense.

Guess this will be deleted again.

Newsweek Article
April 17, 2008, 5:40 am
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Newsweek is featuring an article on Children of D. this week. Writer David J. Jefferson has written “The Divorce Generation Grows Up.” Jefferson returned to his High School and interviewed some of his classmates to find out how their parent’s Divorces impacted their lives.  Nice to see this subject getting some attention.


from the article:

It’s been more than a quarter century since the Grant High class of ’82 donned tuxes and taffeta and danced to Styx’s “Come Sail Away” at the senior prom, and nearly four decades have passed since no-fault divorce laws began spreading across the country. In our parents’ generation, marriage was still the most powerful social force. In ours, it was divorce. My 44-year-old classmates and I have watched divorce morph from something shocking, even shameful, into a routine fact of American life.

But while it may be a common occurrence, divorce remains a profound experience for those who’ve lived through it. Researchers have churned out all sorts of depressing statistics about the impact of divorce. Each year, about 1 million children watch their parents split, triple the number in the ’50s. These children are twice as likely as their peers to get divorced themselves and more likely to have mental-health problems, studies show. While divorce rates have been dropping—off from their 1981 peak to just 3.6 per 1,000 people in 2006—marriage has also declined sharply, falling to 7.3 per 1,000 people in 2006 from 10.6 in 1970. Sociologists decry a growing “marriage gap” in which the well educated and better paid are staying married, while the poor are still getting divorced (people with college degrees are half as likely to be divorced or separated as their less-educated peers). And the younger you marry, the more likely you are to get divorced.

Yet all these statistics fail to show the very personal impact of divorce on the individual, or how those effects can change over a lifetime as children of divorce start families of their own. When we were growing up, divorce loomed as the ultimate threat to innocence, but what were my peers’ feelings about it now that they were adults? What I wanted to know was how divorce had affected our class president and Miss Congeniality, the stoners and the valedictorian. Did it leave them with emotional scars that never healed, or did they go on to lead “normal” lives? Did they wind up in divorce court, or did they achieve the domestic bliss their parents had sought in suburbia? I decided to open my yearbook, pick up the phone and find out. These are their stories—or at least their side of their stories, since each breakup is perceived so differently by every family member.

What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander
April 4, 2008, 5:46 pm
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I just thought of a cure for family warfare, especially in divorced and extended families.  This keeps the psychiatrists/psychologists in business which is all we’re really on this planet for at this point anyway.

If a parent takes his kid to the psychiatrist for medication, then the parent should receive complementary medication as well. These disorders are genetically related after all.  That way the parent will at least understand the side effects that the child is suffering from.  ….and I bet he/she will suddenly become a lot more interested in improving his parenting behavior as well.  Step-parents should be forced to take treatments and “medicine” for at least a year before the step-child is treated.

Ali Mazrui – A Muslim’s Idea of Polygamy and Extended Family
April 4, 2008, 5:40 pm
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From the Guardian’s List of 100 Top Intellectuals is Ali Mazrui, a Political Scientist from Kenya. Ali Mazrui’s father had two wives. He discusses his attitudes towards growing up with this type of family below. This is from http://www.invitation2truth.com/islam-explained/world/mazrui.html:

I am prepared to learn from Aristotle. I am prepared to learn how other cultures are doing and then to look afresh at my Islamic culture and see how it does. My father was polygamous. I don’t say this in a censorious family. I did not live in an oppressive extended family. The part I remember is that my father wanted me with him all the time: both when he was with my biological mother and with his other wife. I was therefore with both women whenever he was with them. The other woman treated me as her own child. The point I am raising is not whether there is an objection to polygamy.

We can discuss this if you wish. The point I am making is that my father died a long time ago. The second woman, who is not my biological mother, is still alive today. And I love her. And so do my children. And I take them to her and they tell me she looks much younger than me and although I protest I have to agree with them. This is my second mother and from the day I started earning my first pound one of my obligations included my other mother. My father died in 1947. This loyalty continued to the present day. I think it is a combination in my case of two cultures: my Islam and my Africanism where you maintain loyalties beyond the life of the father. The extended family is real.


Here’s an interesting article on Children and Adults who are resilient called “Resilience can be improved upon” written by L.J. Anderson in Palo Alto Daily News (http://www.paloaltodailynews.com/article/2008-4-1-anderson).

Anderson in particular talks about helping Children to learn how to overcome adversity. Of course, she lists all types of adversity that a child goes through without mentioning divorce: “Death of a parent, abandonment, or being victimized by violence.” Can’t say that I can get used to this. Obviously not getting angry over other people’s denial is a big one in surviving whatever life can throw at you.

Anderson mentions psychologist Edith Grotberg, Ph.D who has done research on Resilience. Grotberg has written a book called Tapping Your Inner Strength: How to Find the Resilience to Deal with Anything.

I like in particular that she uses Keywords that are similar to Astrological Keywords. The meanings tend to blur in different directions from the Astrological Models. One Child of D who’s an astrologer told me that she figured her parents’ divorce didn’t affect her strongly because she had an empty 4th house. And indeed I have noticed in my research so far on famous Children of D that a lack of planets in the 4th house of Family and Home is in an indicator of success in the outside world. Putting planets in a certain house brings attention to those matters in the person’s life. When things go wrong in that area one is more likely to dwell on those issues. The 4th house is also tricky because it involves feelings, Keywords for this House are “I feel.” Grotberg’s Keywords literally relate to the 1st House of Aries (I Am), 2d house of Taurus (“I Have”) and 10th House of Capricorn (“I Can”). Her descriptions seem to involve all the signs included in the relative Cardinal and Fixed Houses. Interestingly, Mutable Sign Houses are left out. Those are the Houses with Keywords “I think” “I analyze” “I see” and “I believe.”  This really does relate directly to why there are no Intellectual Children of D.

Here’s a huge chunk of the article.

Q: How resilient are children, and can parents help develop resiliency in their children?

A: Resilience is a human capacity to deal with, overcome, learn from, or even be transformed by the inevitable adversities of life. With that definition, we know that we already have the capacity. The challenge is to promote resilience so that it is there when needed to face adversities. And starting with children is highly desirable – assuming parents or other adults are already resilient. The resilience that I found in my research lent itself easily to three categories: I HAVE, I AM and I CAN, which include characteristics inherent in resilience.

1) I HAVE (external supports): one or more persons within my family I can trust and who love me without reservation; one or more persons outside my family I can trust without reservation; limits to my behavior; people who encourage me to be independent; good role models; access to health, education, and the social and security services I need; and a stable family and community.

2) I AM (inner strengths): a person most people like; generally calm and good-natured; an achiever who plans for the future; a person who respects myself and others; empathic and caring of others; responsible for my behavior and accepting of the consequences; and a confident, optimistic, hopeful person, with faith.

3) I CAN (interpersonal and problem-solving skills): generate new ideas or new ways to do things; stay with a task until it is finished; see the humor in life and use it to reduce tensions; express thoughts and feelings in communication with others; solve problems in various settings – academic, job-related, personal and social; manage my behavior – feelings, impulses, acting out; and reach out for help when I need it.

These factors are used in dynamic resilience with each other, changing as needed, to address the adversity. These are clearly for adults as well as children.