Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Sinead O’Connor

As the Catholic Church reels from yet more disclosures about mass pedophilia, Irish singer Sinead O’Connor has come forward to speak out about abuse she suffered by the Church as well in her childhood.

I saw O’Connor tonight on Larry King Live, and just had to check…

Yes, Sinead O’Connor is a Child of Divorce.  Already very popular in the U.S. in the 1980s, Sinead achieved icon status when she ripped apart a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.  She says that she wants to rescue God from Religion.  That is one great line.

Sinead’s parents divorced when she was 8 years old.  After the split, she and her siblings (maybe only the oldest ones, am not sure about that) lived at first with her Mother who was abusive.   Sinead has written a song about the abuse she suffered from her Mother called “Fire on Babylon.”

Her Father had so much trouble fighting for custody rights for his children that he became chairman of “The Divorce Action Group” in Ireland.  In 1979 Sinead moved in with her Father and Step-Mother but was eventually sent to a Catholic school because her behavior was out of control.  In Catholic school she began to sing.

According to Wikipedia, Sinead has been married twice, claims to be bisexual, and has 4 children.  She tried to commit suicide on her 33d Birthday and was subsequently diagnosed as Bipolar.   That’s the short version of the story, of course.   This is a very complex woman.

NPR Show: “Divorce Kids”
March 28, 2010, 6:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Today in the car I heard a really strange thing.  NPR was running a show about kids from Divorce — “What the Divorce Revolution Has Meant For Kids” by Sasha Aslanian. There’s a link within the link that leads you to a whole webpage of stuff.  I haven’t looked at that yet (some lawyer got into the comments section with comments about Divorce doesn’t hurt the kids, we can fix the parents, yadda yadda yadda…).

This is great.  Check it out.

Iceland: Happy Divorces; National Bankruptcy; and a Trip to the Gene Bank
March 17, 2010, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Astrology stuff, money, Uncategorized

A while back I wrote a post about how people in Iceland are among the happiest on earth and how they accept single parenting without too much stress of stigma.  I quoted an article which wrote about how Icelanders have among the highest divorce rates and accept divorce in their society.   That post was probably my best argument for how a society can be so advanced and open-minded that it can accept all types of lifestyles.   And the people can be happy.  In the post I noted that the article didn’t say whether or not the children who were growing up in the divorced homes were actually happy.  People don’t really want to hear from the kids.

At any rate, it turns out that some of that happiness was maybe rooted in over-optimism, or lack of realism, and comes with a couple of price tags.  I’ve observed a couple of things about Iceland since that time which sort of might indicate the downfall of that type of thinking.

For one, Iceland has a very homogeneous gene pool.  So much so that all the genes of all the citizens are kept in a bank and have been studied for various diseases.  The reason why this is interesting for me is that the same house that rules Family and Homelife rules Genetics.  This is the 4th House and the Sign of Cancer and the Moon.  Very few societies on earth can probably come up with this type of information simply because their citizens have such a scramble of genetics.  Perhaps, in a society where people are so closely linked by genetics, a split family is not such a big deal.  The Government kept samples of the Genes of all of its citizens and kept them in a database for Genetics researchers around the world to study from.

It seems that the Icelanders became outraged over the invasion of their privacy, in the end.  And the Biotech Company which was doing the research has run into some troubles because of it.

Also, the country has had terrible financial problems due to their over-optimism and was one of the first to declare bankruptcy since the collapse of the money markets in October, 2008.

Everyone knows that Divorce goes hand in hand with Financial ruin.  Finances are often, sadly enough, a big reason why couples stay together.  And I agree that’s a tragic type of compromise to have to make in life.  More often than not finances are the reason for the “crazy ex-wife.”  Suzie Orman is needed much more than a psychologist.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Olympians Phelps, Ohno, Miller, Mancuso
March 12, 2010, 12:21 am
Filed under: creativity, Exemplary Children of Divorce, Uncategorized


That’s all I can say.   It seems that Children of Divorce really excel when it comes to taking home medals at the Olympics.  At the last Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps won more medals than any Olympian ever.  Julia Mancuso, Apolo Ohno, and Bode Miller all set records for most medals at this Winter’s Olympics.

The main talent that these athletes have is their ability to go fast.  I wonder if one requisite for going fast, in addition to being born with good hardware and a disciplined work ethic, is anger.  Julia Mancuso’s mother is quoted on Wikipedia as saying that her daughter “took everything out on the slopes” as a response to her parents’ divorce.  These aren’t team players.  They work by themselves.  And I don’t know if it transfers over to Ice Skating because I’m remembering what a crappy childhood Tanya Harding had.  So, Children of Divorce might only be good at certain sports.  This also may just be a good crop, or generation. Or divorced parents are getting better at their parenting skills.  Probably this is just the first in a couple of generations who didn’t grow up on Wonder Bread.

Michael Phelps.  I’ve talked about him before.

Apolo Ohno’s parents divorced when he was an infant.  He was raised by his Father in Seattle and has very little or nothing to do with his biological Mother and half brother.  His Father says that he started Ohno in sports in order to give him something constructive to do while he worked 12 hour days at his business.  Ohno started in swimming when he was 6 years old and then began speed skating when he was 12 years old.  Last year Apolo added another sport to his repertoire.  He won the last season of the reality TV show Dancing With the Stars.  So, there goes my theory about Figure Skaters from Divorce not being able to compete.

Julia Mancuso’s parents divorced when she would have been around 8 years old.  Before that, when Julia was 5, her Father was convicted for smuggling pot.  Julia is the middle of three sisters.  Both parents seem to still be in her life.

(I’ve just been notified that Julia’s rival in women’s downhill skiing may also be a Child of D!  Lyndsey Vonn.  Yay!)

Bode Miller grew up on an organic farm in New Hampshire.  His parents were hippies who run a Tennis Club.  After the divorce they lived on opposite ends of their 500+ acre farm.  They divorced when Bode was around 8 years old (3d grade?). He grew up with no electricity, maybe even no running water.  (ugh).  Bode is the 2d child of 4. I don’t know if his parents have remarried.

Men’s Journal has published an interesting article on Miller which talks about how divorce gives kids a lot of freedom to not follow rules.  Bode is often called the world’s most “Creative Skier.”  This is kind of funny, but after I watched him ski I was sort of trying to channel Body Miller while I was driving.  I don’t know anything about Alpine skiing but I thought it was cool how he seemed to be messing with the flags and the lines in the snow.

I did not get a ticket.  I did not crash my car.  Don’t know why.  Maybe all the police in my area are from divorce and were channelling Bode as well.

Who else?  There’s probably more.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Rainer Maria Rilke
March 10, 2010, 1:55 am
Filed under: Boarding school, creativity, Exemplary Children of Divorce

The great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke was a Child of Divorce.

Rilke’s parents split when he was 9 years old and he was sent to live out the rest of his childhood in a Military Academy.  Previous to that his childhood seems to have been overshadowed by his Mother who was grief stricken over the death of a baby sister.  She dressed her son in girl’s clothes until he was 5 years old.  (Kind of strange to say, but my Father went through the exact same thing — and he was sort of a creative genius in his own right).

Rilke’s biography and a good summary of what his poetry is about is here.

Rilke wandered around Europe his whole life.  He published his first poems at Age 19.  He had a long affair with a married woman and then was married for one year in 1899 and had one daughter.  It seems that he spent a lot of time in castles and chateaus writing some of the most incredible poetry of all time.  It seems that his relationships suffered due to his need for solitude.

One can sense the trauma of the child of divorce all over the first lines of his Duino Elegies. I never liked poetry until I found these when I was in my early twenties.

Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1992
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

The First Elegy
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?

and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note of my dark sobbing.
Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need?
Not angels, not humans, and already the knowing animals are aware
that we are not really at home in our interpreted world.

Video about Children of Divorce
March 10, 2010, 12:19 am
Filed under: Movies About Growing Up in Divorce, Relationship with Father

Here’s a great video from YouTube that discusses divorce from the kids’ perspective.  Hope I’ve put the link in correctly.

The video shows a really intense and heartbreaking performance by Will Smith in a scene from a TV Show (sorry, can’t remember the name of the show) playing a teenager who is once again blown off by his Father.  After watching this incredible performance, which brought me to tears, someone in the comments section from an intact family with parents who fight has to say that their situation is worse.  Maybe it is.  Elizabeth Marquardt’s work shows that the kids from violent families do have some relief from their parents’ divorce.  They sure do know how to be insensitive to other people’s pain and to pick fights.  I suspect, though, that probably in a higher percentage of divorced families, the parents who fight generally don’t improve their behaviors in their next marriages, and there’s nothing quite like having two violent families to bounce between.

That scene talks about the Father abandonment situation which can happen even in intact families.  The rest of the video gives some good information about statistics and talks about how kids from divorce could probably benefit from counseling.  I don’t think the psych communities have done enough valid research to actually help kids from divorce, but maybe that’s just my age speaking.

She’s Under His Spell

Just remembered one of my favorite movies from childhood, Dr. Seuss’ 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.  As a kid I mostly paid attention to the part of the story about how the young boy hates practising his piano lessons and I didn’t really pay attention to the fact the boy in the story is living in a single parent household and the terrors associated with that situation.  Don’t know if piano teachers are as scary now as they were when I was a kid.  But, I do remember being reduced to tears by one of mine. He  had crusty old eyes and a double nose and would beat the piano with a baton and would yell at me when I proved to him that I was indeed rhythm-less and tone deaf.

In the movie, the boy falls asleep while at the keyboard, bored by the grotesque music he has to repeat over and over and terrified because his widowed Mother doesn’t understand how awful his piano teacher is. While dreaming  he is held prisoner by the maestro and he is forced to play an enormous 500 child piano along with 499 other captured boys.  The piano teacher has cast a spell on his Mother and is holding her as his  zombie bride to be.  The boy gets help from the plumber to suck the noise out of the big performance and releases everyone from their torture.  In the end the Mother sort of gets a date with the nice plumber and the boy is free from having to practice.

This movie shows the total fear and horror of having to deal with a single parent who falls in love with the wrong person.  In the movie, the Mother becomes a spineless zombie who  doesn’t recognize her own child in order to please the evil tyrant.  Because the child fights the evil influence off he prevails.  So, maybe this is a bit of a disruptive influence for most children of single parents who aren’t supposed to have opinions about their parents’ bad romance choices (kind of weird when a divorced person jumps right back into another bad relationship but that’s probably more common than not).

Over and over again I used to wonder what the Hell my Father was doing with my Step-Mother.  It was clear that her motivations for being with him were not real pure.  I suppose this made it easier when I hit my twenties and friends hooked up with partners who I didn’t particularly like.  I didn’t think anything of it except to just stay away.  Other friends would rant on and on about how can she stay with that guy.  I never really thought that it was a topic that could be discussed.  Of course, she stayed with that guy.  She’s in love and love is blind and destroys people.  Okay, so that’s probably not the healthiest way to approach love but when you’ve spent years watching your Mother drag in every red-faced beer belly and every 9-fingered piano man that she meets in a bar, you really don’t question too much about what the forces of attraction are between man and woman.   Granted my parents suffered from extreme distortions of thought because of alcoholism and other illness, but I tell you I’ve noticed completely sober people do the same stupid stuff.

Anyway, 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.   Great movie about having a single parent.   The real Father in this movie has died.  Probably most kids in the 1950s were told their Fathers had died, whether they did or not.