Spoiled Children of Divorce

How to Talk Honestly About the Divorce In Spite of It All
March 11, 2009, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Children of Divorce simply can’t talk about the Divorce. Divorce is thought to fix all family problems I guess.  The World can not accept the events that go on in the family post-divorce. It’s odd that this has been going on just as the New Agers and Psychologists have been claiming that baring one’s breasts of all past injustices and shame is ok.  Really, it’s safe…. really, it is, just as long as you know that it’s only your opinion about what happened and not really what did happen as your parents love you and they did it because they wanted happiness for all (and no discussion or dissention).

I don’t have a solution for this problem.

Almost all of my friends who are almost all from Divorce simply don’t talk about it.  They will mention one sentence and that’s that.  I doubt they ever discuss the situation as adult with their aging parents. Why bother?  It reminds me of what is considered “The Olden Days” when people’s parents died and they weren’t included in the conversations or the grieving processes.

I have found an article that skirts the issue nicely.  It’s an article written for “Slate” by Sean Wilsey.  I’ve mentioned Wilsey’s memoir “Oh the Glory of It All” in a previous post (Sorry about the Quote marks, I have trouble finding italics button on WordPress).

Wilsey’s parents were San Francisco socialites who got divorced because Wilsey’s Father walked out with Wilsey’s Mother’s Best Friend.  After the divorce, Wilsey’s Mother took kids on trips around the World to meet world leaders.  Her best friend, Wilsey’s new Step Mother, took over her social life in a way that was similar to what my Step Mother tried to do so I particularly like this story.

Wilsey discusses the problems that Memoirists have in relationships with the people who they are illustrating in their books.  I thought maybe the article would provide a clue about how to successfully discuss Divorce with one’s family but it looks as if maybe there is no decent way to do this.  It’s probably easier to do through a book which provides distance (after careful consideration from a pack of lawyers) than in person over dinner where people are eating with tongs and serrated edges which can be fisted angrily and overhandedly.

In his article “Publish, Then Flee.  How to tell your family you’re writing about them” Wilsey says that you can either outlive your relatives before publishing.  Or you can publish and then never expect to talk with them again. Wilsey seems to have interviewed everyone he could possibly locate from his past.  He talks at length with his Mother’s opinion of how she is represented which is very humorous.  She keeps reminding him that what he said may not have really happened and that it is only his Point of View.  He doesn’t discuss his Father’s reaction at all. Men never react?  He says that he didn’t discuss anything with his Step Mother and she was enraged but in the end is such an opportunist that she hired a publicist and made fame and glory off of the notoriety.

Fun article, don’t know if it helps.  Don’t know if anyone wants to pull these old rabbits out of their bags anyway.  Here’s the link:  http://www.slate.com/id/2162213/.

What Other People Say
March 10, 2009, 2:29 am
Filed under: Courts, Custody, money

One of my most prominent memories from my parents’ divorce was the discussion over the Child Support.  This is a real bartering tool during Divorce and lets the children know exactly how much they are valued.

So, I was reminded of it by reading this gossip column/forum type thingee concerning a Celebrity Divorce.  Although it’s a bunch of anonymous people ranting anonymously on the Internet it actually does remind me of the types of verbal “considerations” that were going on in my family.  And no doubt in my community.

The link to the article is here:


The Celebrity involved is Baby Phat dress designer Kimora Lee Simmons.  She has two daughters with her ex-husband Russell Simmons.  She won a Child Support settlement of $480,000 “for her children.”

The discussion, of course, discussed how the children would obviously be brought up as spoiled rich kids.  I doubt this discussion would have happened if their parents had remained married.  It just totally amazes me that people will pick on kids who are going through this situation.  No one, absolutely no one on the board felt any sense of loss for the children.  After Death, I doubt that these people would have discussed the Children’s financial situation.

Of course, the Mother, Kimora was ripped to shreds.  All the usual.  She was called a gold digger, a slut, a bad mother.  People were saying they would no longer buy her clothes.  People, I suppose, expect her to be a victim.  Women work well in that situation.  I assume that most of the people on the forum were females but on the Internet you never know.  This may just be a publicity stunt.  At any rate, the comments were very accurate discussions of how people in communities discuss their friends’ divorces.  Some of the participants were praising her shrewdness.   Marriage is a business deal, after all.  Everyone took a side.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Noah Baumbach

Noah Baumbach is the Director/Writer of one of the few true movies about going through a Divorce, The Squid and the Whale.  It is said to be based on experiences he went through during his own parents’ divorce.  Baumbach’s biography is a little sketchy so I’m not sure of his age at the time of his parent’s divorce.  I’m assuming he was around Age 15 or 16.

The Squid and the Whale is about a family living in Brooklyn in the mid-80s.  The parents are intellectuals, both writers, the Father is going through a mid-life crisis and down-turn in his career and ego and the Mother’s career is just taking off.  The sons are age 12 and age 16.  The movie does a great job of showing the strangeness of going through adolescence while also going through the parents’ divorce.

I saw the movie a while ago and thought it a little dry.  The significance of the Squid and the Whale is explained at the end but I was spacing out at that point.  Sorry.

Supposedly the first words were the 12 year old Son saying:  “Me and Mom against you and Dad.”  That definitely sums it up pretty well.

There’s a great article at indiewire which analyzes the relationships.  http://www.indiewire.com/article/noahs_arc_noah_baumbachs_the_squid_and_the_whale

Here’s a quote about how narcissistic parents raise their kids in divorce.  Can hardly wait for the sequel with Step-Parents and siblings:

“the parental choice to treat children as equals can be admirable but also suggests a deeper selfishness that seems fundamentally at odds with the job.”

Moving On – Tess Damm’s Father

Tess Damm is the Colorado teenager who allowed her boyfriend to murder her Mother.  The teenagers than put the Mother’s body in the car and partied for about a month before neighbors called authorities.  Tess’s Mother was what sounds like a raging alcoholic and her boyfriend, an adopted boy from India, had a split personality.  I talked briefly about Tess Damm a while back and went back to see if I could find any new information about her situation as regards to her parent’s divorce because obviously this was an impossible situation which led to tragedy.

I found an article about Tess’ Father, Michael Damm, who left her Mother, Linda Juergens, when Tess was around 1 1/2 years old.


The Father’s attitude towards his daughter was totally distant.  He said that “he didn’t know those people.”  As is typical in Divorced families the Father can’t handle the stress of maintaining a relationship with the Mother who is totally insane.  And he simply disappears.  I tend to see how this is a practical way to lead one’s life.  Unfortunately, from the child’s point of view this is very destructive.

According to the article, Tess’ parents married on June 29, 1991. Tess was born a month later so obviously she was a “mistake” child.  The Father walked out in September 1992.  He tried to maintain a long distance relationship with his daughter and was given what looks to me like very difficult rules to follow in order to do that.  For example, he had to give 30 days’ notice in order to visit.  Juergens filed for divorce in April, 1999.  That’s a long time to remain separated so I sort of assume that he really was having struggling with trying to maintain connection with his daughter at least.

I wonder if it’s easier if these parents just cut the cord quickly.  The child then doesn’t build up any false hopes and can live with reality much better.   Of course, the best option would have been if he had been given custody since it sounds like he was the more stable parent but who knows?  He may have been as unstable as the Mother.

The Father at the time of the writing is now living in Wisconsin, is remarried and has more children with his current wife.  He talked very coldly about his daughter’s situation which I think is the attitude that a lot of Children of D receive from the missing parent.  The child must suffer the Loss like a Death but also the Rejection of being Unworthy.   The Father said he hadn’t talked to her in 10 years and didn’t intend to reestablish a relationship now.  At any rate, one can see the Father’s coldness being projected into the mind of a daughter who plotted and carried out her own Mother’s death.  He is quoted as saying:

“I have a family, and I’m living and loving life in Wisconsin,” he said.  “I moved out of that situation when (Tess) was about 2.”

He is quoted repeatedly as saying that he has moved on in life.  His Mother, Tess’ Grandmother, was also interviewed as saying that the family had moved on.  Tess really was worth nothing to her family.  Most Children of D don’t kill their parents, but they do share a similar style relationship with one of their parents.

The great philosopher Martin Buber said that the greatest evil in the world comes not from bad deeds but from indifference.