Spoiled Children of Divorce

“Savage Grace”

This movie, Savage Grace, completely destroyed my week-end. It’s the most miserable story in the world. Julianne Moore plays a rich socialite nymphomaniac who is murdered by her son. It’s based on the life of a woman called Barbara Baekeland and I don’t know how much of it is true. Barbara Baekeland married and was dumped by an heir to a Plastics fortune. She developed an abnormally close relationship with her son which can probably qualify in modern terms as Parental Alienation Syndrome, along with Incest and just plain old creep out.  I sort of wonder if Incest (between parent and child at any rate) is sometimes connected with Parental Alienation Syndrome.

The Son, Antony Baekeland, was Gay and his Mother seduced him in order to try to convert him to normal, not that she’d have a clue what that was.  The Father left Anthony to take care of his Mother alone as she descended into depressions and eventually a suicide attempt.  There is a really great line in the movie where Anthony is writing to his father telling him that his only inheritance was taking care of his mother.  Really interesting line in a family where inheritance and money seem to have caused so much trouble.  The Father apparently did nothing to help his Son, typical behavior.

According to what I read on the Internet (sorry forget to get any links)  Tony (Antony) was released from jail eventually and went to live with his Mother’s Mother.  After a week he stabbed her.  So, he was permanently destroyed.  He eventually committed suicide in jail.

I have no idea how closely the movie follows what people know about the real story but I’ve found that movies are highly fictionalized. I don’t know if I recommend this to anyone who grew up in a difficult Divorce or suffered Incest or Suicides.  Unlike the movie “About A Boy” which is partly about a boy witnessing his Mother’s suicide attempt, there’s no redemption to this story, made all the worse because it’s based on real life.  Some of the reviews that I’ve read say that they don’t even believe it could be a real story, har har.  The movie is based on a book by the same title.

Wound, Or Illness?
June 22, 2008, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Heard an interesting interview with a psychologist on NPR about the PTSD in the Veterans coming home from Iraq.

For one, I would be most interested in learning the percentage of Veterans who come from Divorced families who are fighting over in the War.  It makes sense that Children of D, with no place to go once they hit Age 18, would join the military.  I also wonder if there is a bigger than normal rate of PTSD among the Children of D.  That’s a lot of stress to load on anybody, but the kids from Divorce have already grown up in Divorce.  Perhaps the advanced military awareness of the condition during this War is a sign of the awareness that Children of D have to their reactions to stress.

The Interview also said that the military was calling the PTSD a wound rather than a mental illness in order to lower the stigma involved in having a weakness, especially in the Military which only accepts Strength.

Of course, Children of D, who grow up in War Zones, can never be diagnosed with PTSD.  They would never be diagnosed with a “Wound.”  That places blame on 50 percent of the parents in the United States. It also places blame on all the psychiatrists and psychologists who have been allowing it to happen without speaking up.  These people as adults will always, always be diagnosed with Mental Illness if the suppressed fears and feelings come up later in life.

Comparison Statistics, I can’t vouch for accuracy.

Rate of Psychological Illness in Iraq War Veterans – 28 Percent? http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-10-18-troops-side_x.htm

Rate of Psychological Illness in Children of Divorce – 25-30 Percent?


just Statistics related to Fatherless Children: http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/stats.php

Translated, this means that children from a fatherless home are:

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison”

  • Decision v. Choice v. What’s For Dinner?
    June 22, 2008, 7:39 pm
    Filed under: Uncategorized

    A few months ago I went to a lecture in which the speaker was differentiating between Decision and Choice.  He said that Decision is a deliberate act that requires planning and tenacity.  Choice is more of an intuitive thing where you just feel what’s in your gut and go with that. Parents who divorce for the reason that they just want to move on will teach how to make a “Choice” to their children rather than how to build a life through Decision making.

    Since that lecture I’ve been seeing the word “Choice” everywhere but I don’t often see the word “Decision”. I believe that I’ve read that Divorce is a symptom of a wealthy society.  And our wealthy society seems to offer huge choices.  We have to chose between Whole Milk, 2 percent, 1 percent, Skim.  Paper or plastic?  Plastic, really? While you’re telling that to the bag person you’re also being asked by the cashier:  cash, credit or debit?  Plastic, really? Money back?

    I wonder if this is the only way that marketers and psychologists can grab the attention of the Divorce crowd. The kids grow up having to chose everything. They expect to be barraged with these stupid questions all day.  I suppose this is a form of being spoiled. It’s also a very complex form of childhood. Children are supposed to be developing in harmony with the boundaries around them. They are supposed to be guided.  One would think that there would actually be more guidance from parents in a wealthy society.  Instead there’s a constant conversation stream of Do you want to visit your Father on Friday or Saturday night? Do you want to go for pizza or for for Chinese? Do you want to call me to get out of there early if his girlfriend starts bothering you? Choice. Choice. Choice. It sort of doesn’t matter what you chose. Just chose it and move on to the next thing.  The kids in intact families go home and just ask “what’s for dinner?”

    “It Affects Them Forever”
    June 21, 2008, 5:38 am
    Filed under: Uncategorized

    So I tried to watch Oprah today because the show was all about Children of D. Oprah replayed a show from last year about how if parents don’t deal with their kids’ feelings about divorce then the kids will be destroyed forever. Oprah knows all, what can I say?

    The show is about parenting, of course.  Not about being from a divorced family.  It’s meant to teach parents how to not mess up their kids.  Difference is that Oprah tells people that the problems that their kids develop will last with them for their entire lifetimes if not dealt with.  She tells the parents that they can help their kids.

    Expert Gary Newman (maybe not spelling his name correctly?) talks about how the parents must not assume that their kids are ok just because the kids don’t talk about their feelings.  The parents need to get their kids to talk and Newman says that you do this not by setting them down in a formal chat session or by waiting for them to talk.  You talk about the Divorce while doing something else.  I thought this was a great idea.  He crayons with the little ones while they talk. Don’t know what he does with the insolent teens but Oprah says he can work wonders.  And the thing about the “opening up” is that it seemed to really be helping the people who were on the show.  I don’t mind therapy if it actually helps (which is rare I have to add).

    Newman also differentiated fighting between parents in divorced and fighting in intact families.  This was great. I’ve never heard of a therapist who would distinguish the difference. Kids from intact families see their parents fighting and then they see them make up.  Fighting in divorced families never gets better.  It’s just fighting.  As a result, the kids become the stable ones in the family.  This is so true!

    Unfortunately, most of the show in my area was preempted by the local news because of a tragic event so I missed huge chunks.  I saw the last minutes where a teenage girl who had been acting out through promiscuity looked like she really did get some closure over the tensions from her parents’ divorce.  She looked pretty young to be in that situation.  Her mother had left her Father seven years before because she had had an affair.  The daughter had witnessed the affair and had never told anyone until two days before the show.  This silence is so much a part of growing up in Divorce!  Seven years.  Most people my age don’t discuss it still.  The Mother actually admitted that she had literally not thought about her daughter’s feelings, she had been so caught up in her own stuff.  This is also so much part of growing up in Divorce!  What a relief to see a parent just say it.  I used to know a guy who had a really awful story that of course he never talked about with his parents.  When he was five he heard his Father beating up his Mother in the bedroom and went to see what was going on.  As he got to the door his parents started having sex. Not only a stressful situation from the fighting, but his introduction to Sex.  It was also the last time he saw his Father.  Am I the only one who runs into people with stories like this?  Most kids from divorce I’ve met have a story like this, well, not everything all at once and then never again like this, but the extreme level of tension that no one talks about.

    I don’t think there was any discussion of step-parents, step-siblings, mixed families, money, and a host of other problems that seem prominent but as I said I missed most of the show.

    One annoying thing was that Oprah kept insisting that girls handle the silenced experiences through depression while boys “flat line” emotionally and then fly off into rages.  In my family my step-sister and I became the rage-oholics later in life.  The boys somehow were allowed as adolescents to be angry and to crash cars and then they sort of mellowed out in depressed types.   Anyway, girls definitely grow up to have problems with rage.

    Quote for the Day
    June 20, 2008, 6:58 am
    Filed under: Uncategorized

    “What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage.”

    –Ezra Pound

    Oprah Alert!!!
    June 19, 2008, 12:09 am
    Filed under: Uncategorized

    Got to watch part of Oprah today and saw that she will have a show about Children of D coming up this Friday.  That’ll be June something, something.  Not sure of the date.  Also not sure of the Expert she’s going to be interviewing.

    June 16, 2008, 5:32 pm
    Filed under: Birth Order, Exemplary Children of Divorce, Healing, Myths, Stepfamilies

    The Greek Myths are a great resource for learning about Children of D and Step-Family Hell. The Myth of Hercules is a great example.

    This is a story about philandering Fathers, Jealous & Powerful Step-Mothers, Loss of Birthright, Dealing with Enemies, and finding Redemption. The story of Hercules’ 12 Labors, or 10 Labors, is often told. The evils that Hercules had to conquer are often retold, the Nemean Lion, the Apples of Hesperides, the Hound of Hades, these are common stories. The motive behind the story is not talked about. That would upset the parents and the therapists.

    Hercules, in a fit of madness induced by his jealous step-mother, killed his wife and children and withdrew from the world. In order to redeem himself he had to defeat a list of demons that were decided for him by his worst enemy, the step-brother who usurped his birthright to be King. This was Hera’s son.

    Here’s part of the Wikipedia article:

    The framing narrative

    Zeus, having made Alcmene pregnant with Hercules, proclaimed that the next son born of the house of Perseus would become king. Hera, Zeus’ wife, hearing this, caused Eurystheus to be born two months early as he was of the house of Perseus, while Hercules, also of the house, was three months overdue. When he found out what had been done, Zeus was furious; however, his rash proclamation still stood.

    In a fit of madness, induced by Hera, Hercules slew his wife, Megara, and their three children. The fit then receded. Realizing what he had done, he isolated himself, going into the wilderness and living alone. He was found (by his cousin Theseus) and convinced to visit the Oracle at Delphi to regain his honor. The Oracle told him that as a penance he would have to perform a series of ten tasks, or labors, set by King Eurystheus, the man who had taken Hercules’ birthright and the man he hated the most.

    Hercules never became King but according to some of the myths he did become immortal for being such a hero.  This is a great story to study and to gain wisdom and inspiration from in order to survive how lousy family life can be.

    Here’s another summary of his story, slightly different from the Wikipedia entry: