Spoiled Children of Divorce

Play and Children of Divorce
November 14, 2009, 11:31 pm
Filed under: creativity, Play

Since I was fourteen when my parents got their divorce I had a “normal” early childhood.  My brother and I had the ideal home life for being able to just run off and play.  And I wonder if there is a huge difference in this for young Children of Divorce.  I can’t imagine being able to take the mental and imaginary leaps that I did when I was a kid.  If a child has changing households and multiple parents someone will always be interfering, either with a scheduling conflict or some sort of judgment about the child that will make him/her too self-conscious.

I’ve found a great book on child development called The Yale Child Study Center to Understanding Your Child by Linda C. Mayes, M.D. and Donald J. Cohen, M.D.  There’s a chapter in the back on Divorce which is included right before the Chapter on Death.  Both Chapters seem more concerned with the parents and their problems.  Out of 548 pages, there are only 16 set aside for this phenonmenon that half of the kids in the United States are growing up in.  That’s always distressing for me.

But, tucked into another Chapter called “Child’s Play:  Child’s Work,” is an interesting insert called “The Child Who Cannot Play.”  It addresses how a stressful divorce lifestyle can affect a young child’s development in this area.  It even lumps it together with the Autism problem.  Although Autism is no doubt a real problem, I tend to suspect that it’s a real problem of mis-diagnosis in the Medical profession.

The book states that the ages of 3-7 are the major years for developing through play.  Man, kids from intact families don’t know how good they have it just to be allowed to go through this phase uninterrupted.  Parents in these families just love letting their kids go off and do their own thing.

From pp 222-223:

“Because their external lives are so rushed and stressed, their time to daydream, imagine and reflect upon their mental world is foreshortened.  In this tragic situation, children who are caught in the middle of a divorce, or whose parents are fighting constantly or are depressed, or who are growing up in unsafe neighborhoods with littlesense of security, often cannot play.”

Did you see that?  It mentioned “Divorce.”  Divorce as a problem as seen from a child’s point of view, not a parent’s.  It just tucked it in there all hidden like.  How rare is that?

Going on it then says to send the child for counseling if this becomes a problem.  Shouldn’t the parents just do the counseling?  Counselors are often invasive presences like step-parents.  They seldom have enough talent to do their jobs effectively so why bother with them?

I think often that the parent thinks of his children as pals in which he plays in his new single life with.  Many of the movies that have come out recently use this “hip, friendly parent” to tell their stories.  Hip parents are great.  Often they have huge egos and don’t know when they are drowning out their children’s spirits, though. But, that’s another story.  Maybe playing sidekick to Mom and Dad’s single life is a good substitute for play.  I personally think it’s neurotic.  Mostly I think it’s responsible for a whole generation of people who can create no new Arts.  I’ve never been a fan of Reality TV myself because it definitely seems to be a mediocre product of half-baked minds.  Just when we need inventors and risk takers who can make great intuitive leaps to solve the problems of the environment our society is loaded up with young people who have been used to shrink their parents’ problems non-stop.  These skuttled around kids probably have hyper advanced social skills that replace the imagination thing and that’s probably better for survival during a deluge because people will be less likely to fight over who gets kicked off the raft.

2 Comments so far
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You make some really great points here. And being one of those kids who’s parents separated at 3, I think you are on to something regarding the increased social skills but lack of imagination. That eerily describes me. Thanks for the thought provoking post!

Comment by Carolyn (the grown up child)

Hey Carolyn, sorry, I am not tactful at all and don’t have experience with trying to communicate this stuff so that it doesn’t damage a person. I think it wouldn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have imagination because it definitely looks like you have enough to me. It means that you weren’t given enough space to develop your imagination the way it naturally would. And that might feel some kind of inhibition that you can’t quite pin down now that you’re an adult. People do all kinds of incredible things with thwarted imaginations once they hit adulthood… It can mean that a person works extra hard to develop this part of themselves or is at least more aware of this lack than others so is more honest about this side of themselves. And this is only if you believe in astrology, which isn’t proven (well, most of psychology and psychiatry aren’t proven either).

At any rate, I was wondering what age you were during the divorce.

Thanks for your reply, though. I was wondering what age you were during the divorce. Kids at age 3 are supposedly adding an average of 8-9 words a day to their vocabularies. That’s amazing. Hopefully you will be able to do this as well for the C of Ds.

Comment by toothless

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