Spoiled Children of Divorce

“The Halo Effect” and Paul Ekman
July 31, 2010, 7:39 am
Filed under: Stepfamilies, Uncategorized | Tags:

This is pretty cool.  It in part explains why step-parents treat their step-children so badly and don’t have a clue that they are doing so.  Psychologists supposedly don’t trust their research because they fear the part about how they can’t judge the kids subjectively.  The problem is called “The Halo Effect.”

I’ve been browsing through a book written by Paul Ekman called Why Kids Lie.  My basic interest is the chapter called “Lying at Different Ages”  in order to compare what Ekman writes about how kids develop into the lying little devils that they are and the planetary return cycles to see if they line up with each other.  Paul Ekman is a great psychologist, one of the few.  We note that he is a man, not a female (and I’m seriously concerned that this is why he is good at psychology).

Ekman is the psychologist who has studied expression in the Human Face.  He’s an expert at figuring out how to judge what a person really thinks just by reading facial expressions.  Law enforcement uses Ekman’s research and teachings in order to train employees.  I seem to remember that National Geographic had a really fun interactive program on their website that one could play with to try to determine what different facial expressions mean.

I suspect that Children of D have a special relationship with lying that kids from intact families don’t have because they get stuck in the middle of so many of their parents’ fibs.  They also lead double lives which can, of course, lead to duplicitous  behavior, or fear of duplicitous behavior, whatever the case may be.  I have no idea whether this means that we grow up better liars, or more deceitful, or what.  The step-mothers keep pounding in the fact that all step-daughters are manipulative.  Of course, they never say that the step-daughters’ fathers are passive-aggressive (male version of manipulative).  I don’t even think that most step-mothers have brains, but that’s another story.

According to what I’ve read so far in Ekman’s book there aren’t really that many compulsive liars among children (maybe 5 percent?) and his research doesn’t study whether or not kids who lie a lot as children grow up to be deceitful.

What’s really fascinating is a description of “The Halo Effect” that seems to get in the way of psychologists’ studies of lying.  Ekman says:  “That phrase refers to the fact that if you know something good or bad about a person, you are likely to think he or she will have other good or bad traits.”  “I call it the “halo/horns effect” because it can work either way, positively or negatively.  Asked if Hitler liked babies, most people would probably say no.  The halo/horns effect misleads us into expecting that someone bad like Hitler would not do something nice, such as liking babies.”  Ekman goes on to describe how a teacher will naturally accuse a child who he/she has previous problems with and will tend to catch that child doing more bad things just because he will be watching for the negative traits.

Biological parents do this a lot.  Nobody really needs to add Step-Parents into the scenario.  Bio Parents generally have a favorite child and then they have a child who they just don’t get along with.  My Mother liked my Brother best and my Father liked me best.  It was clear that neither parent was really comfortable with that but we just sort of accepted it.

It seems almost certain that step-parents apply the Halo/Horns effect to their step-children even if they don’t want to.  The step-parent has to not only get along with the personality of the child but has to not get irritated by the fact that the child generally lives according to two sets of households.  Besides, blood is thicker than water, and the step-parent will always choose his own kid over the step-child.  And the really ballsy ones pretend that they don’t.

The Halo-Horns effect also applies to how step-children perceive their parents and step-parents as well.  I’m just not going to go into it as heavily because a child has no choice or say in whether or not he receives a step-parent into his/her life so there is a much deeper level of stress involved which apparently will never be looked at in any damned studies because divorced parents work at all the middle management jobs that control funding for such studies.

In this book Ekman talks openly about divorce within his own life as it seems that his son from a previous marriage was a big part of the reason for writing the book.  As a child Ekman also pulled off some pretty serious lies himself.  At any rate, I appreciate hearing a divorced parent talk about divorce.  In 1989 when the book was published some studies were showing that boys in particular suffer from divorce and from having absentee Fathers.

Wikileaks and Children of Divorce

I’ve been sort of away from it all and have just noticed that the latest scandal, the release of thousands of U.S. military documents from the last five years, through an internet site called Wikileaks, is the brainchild of two Children of Divorce.

The media is portraying childhood divorce as the grand motivator of what is now being considered a criminal act.  A 22-year old information specialist, Bradley Manning, has been arrested.  Manning spent his time at work downloading secret videos and documents onto a Lady Gaga CD.  People are saying that he has “anger issues.”  Australian, Julian Assange, is the guy who runs the Wikileaks site.  He is being painted as a paranoid product of a chaotic childhood.  Both men are described as having problems dealing with Authority.

Isn’t it sort of the point of a parent who gets a divorce  to pursue a happier life?  Sometimes — often, actually — that involves questioning Authority.  I mean, when you think about it, the reason why we’re in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is because those people won’t, or can’t, stand up against their governments.  They are afraid of Authority.  If we want to respect Authority that isn’t doing the right thing then shouldn’t we just join our enemies? I’m pretty certain we wouldn’t be hearing from Manning and Assange if we hadn’t been in a pointless set of wars for the last 8 years.  Pat Tillman was doing the same thing, granted he wasn’t from divorce so nobody gets to say that he was angry or paranoid (edit:  Pat Tillman’s parents are divorced).

So, the media journalists have lapsed into evil bitchy step-mothers with their descriptions of Assange and Manning.  Assange and Manning are screwed up products of their parents’ hatred.  Amazing how the attitude towards how divorce affects kids can spin on a dime.  There

Assange’s parents were Peace Activists who ran a traveling theater.  They divorced.  His Father became an architect.  I know not what age Assange was at the time of the divorce.   Mother moved her sons about 37 times before Assange was 16 years old whilst running from Hubby #2 so there’s some bad step-father visuals in there.  There are definitely a lot of interesting images concerning home and homelessness and moving in this guys’ life.  Assange withdrew into his computer work and became a hacker.  Why not?  He was probably given too much information about his Mother’s love life all through childhood.  “TMI” is not a big deal for a Child of D.  We’re raised with it on a day to day basis.  Who was the filmmaker who became a filmmaker by using the camera to try to catch his Father having an affair?

Now Assange sort of just lives in his head and on the Internet.  He doesn’t really have a home.  He lives all over the World, particularly in Iceland.  Iceland and its attitudes towards divorce.  Well, if that’s the direction in which we are flowing then we might as well start trying to learn from them.

Assange got married when he was 18 and subsequently divorced.  He went through a long custody battle which led to a hospitalization.  Seeing how the courts work is supposedly where he developed his distaste for Authority.  It looks like he at least tried to stay in his kids’ life.  That’s got to count for something.

Bradley Manning grew up in Oklahoma.  His parents divorced when he was in Middle School.  He moved with his Mother to Wales.  He’s only 22 years old.

What bugs me is how closeted these Hackers are with their birth data.  I can’t look up either chart.  Kind of interesting to observe how they feel more comfortable exposing the secrets but how secretive they themselves are (I can’t get their birth data).  Maybe they are used to being invisible?  Also interesting to see how they are seen as insubordinate for exposing flaws of authority figures when actually they are trying to hold on to democratic ideals.  I wonder if the journalists in the media who are currently trying to humiliate them are from intact families.

July 18, 2010, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Saw an interesting movie about the difficult Mother, Son, Boyfriend triangle this week-end.  Cyrus is named after a potential step-son who does everything in his powers to destroy his Mother’s new relationship.  And, although it’s about the son, the story is told from the point of view of the step-father.  As I’ve discussed before, I suspect that we won’t really see too movies about divorce from a child’s point of view simply because it’s too difficult to narrate two stories going at once what with the double family stuff and all.

Well, with this cast, there’s no way I couldn’t like the movie.  Did I mention this before, the time that an ex-roommate and I realized that all Mom’s boyfriends are “Johns?”  Well, in this story, John C. Reilly plays a guy named John.  Marisa Tomei plays the Mother, Molly.  Catherine Keener plays the ex-wife.  And Jonah Hill plays the psycho son. 

Cyrus is shown as a freak throughout the movie until the very end, when, thanks to his Mother’s boyfriends’ open and honest handling of his relationship with both Mother and Son, he changes and becomes a nice guy.  

Cyrus’ Father has never been in his life, he has an exclusive relationship with his Mother which is unusual and pretty sick.  (Children of D often have much more intimiate relationships with one parent than kids from Intact families so it’s probably best not to call this type of relationship “sick”, rather just a result of belonging to a different lifestyle.  Either way, I realize that step-mothers in particular get tiffed off by walking into this type of relationship and maybe they could learn a couple of things by watching John C. Reilly’s character. When things get really crazy, Reilly can project into the future and realize how things won’t improve so he moves out.  Then, on his own volition and love for his Mother, Cyrus brings them back together.  And, again, this is only the movies and shows only how things ought to be and this particular movie is classified as a “Thriller” and not as a “Romance” in the imbd database.) 

Despite this, the movie is really great.  The actors are all awesome and if I knew anything about direction and writing I’d probably think that it is really well done.  The movie really does have a cathartic effect about how much children can expect to “own” their parents and to make their step-parents’ live hell.  It probably does offer hope to most who are living in a lot of pain.  Unfortunately, it does nothing to help children who are being abused by their step-children, which is probably an incredibly high number.  I complement the movie with reservation because I know how many step-parents will use this as ammo against their spouse’s children. 

One must notice just how freaky these people are and that they don’t represent the normal couple.  The boyfriend, John, has been separated from his ex-wife for 7 years and suffers from serious depression for which he evidentally doesn’t get treatment.  Like most Mother’s boyfriends, John  has really bad manners and constantly drops in on Molly. He’s a really nice guy but has limited social skills and it’s pretty bizarre that the Mother, who has shut her son off from the world (lovingly, of course), would accept such a slob into her life.  So, that makes no sense, but we all know it happens out there every day.

The Mother/girlfriend, hasn’t had her son meet a boyfriend ever since he was born.  As she is played by Marisa Tomei, this is really difficult to understand.  And, as she seems to be up-to-date on her sexuality practice, it appears that she has been keeping her dating  life secret from her son.  So, one wonders what a really open guy like John is going to do in the end with such a secretive, sneeky woman.  Isn’t there a control freak thing to deal with down the line, and is this all really Cyrus’ fault?  (No matter, because in the end, Cyrus is the one who really gets the release).

Marisa Tomei’s character is considered perfect, nonetheless.  She sees nothing wrong with either her son nor her boyfriend.  Another stepford wife in the movies?  Can’t wait for the sequel when we see John C. Reilly’s character sitting in the dark house by himself acting like Cyrus.

Cyrus is 21 so he’s not a child.  So all of the early childhood issues are not addressed.  And it’s pretty obvious that everything about him is unhealthy from a mental point of view.  Most Mother’s boyfriends would react differently than John C. Reilly’s character. 

Cyrus and his Mother have shared an exclusive relationship for his entire life in which they lick each other’s wounds constantly.  Even though Molly works she has managed to home school Cyrus so that he didn’t even have to deal with other children.  Cyrus dropped out of school at Age 16 and has worked on nothing but his music ever since. 

So, with all this going on, everyone is completely normal and ready to live in co-habitation with each other ever after and I really left the movie thinking feeling a little released.   

Either way, I wish I could see John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill play a step-mother, step-daughter version of this movie in drag. 

I tried to see whether any of the cast comes from divorce, or not, and can’t tell.  John C. Reilly has also played in another step-family movie, but he’s a Gemini and this might just be an astute astro-selection on the part of the casting couch.

Poisoned Apples
July 18, 2010, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Bad Step-Parent Stories, Parents and their Dates, Stepfamilies

Somebody left a comment saying that I ought to seek out the help of a therapist about my step-mother issues rather than hurt her feelings by discussing openly my thoughts and observations about how step-mothers treat their step-children.  She left a link to another site in the message which is probably damaging.  Her IP address is from Canada so if she comes back will know why I put her message in my spam filter.

For one, I went to therapists for years and years.  It doesn’t do any good because therapists don’t discuss divorce.  Period. 

I’ve mentioned positive step-mothers roles on this blog, other readers have recognized that I”ve done so, but these women simply want to come on here and fight.

Step-mothers keep insisting that they are not the problem.  They try.  Well, they try.  But, stupid is as stupid does.  If they are miserable as step-parents, then they simply aren’t the right folks for the job.  Get over yourselves.

I’m aware that the Witch who I’ve mentioned before who runs the Step-Mother site (no training to do counseling, mind you, they’re just getting together to bitch and complain and eat) has begun her idiot retreat this week-end.  The cat fight never ends.  The photo on her blog is classic.  Long frizzed out hair with gray streaks like bride of frankenstein, arms crossed in the ultimate defensive, closed off posture.  And she’s offering help to others.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

Another excuse for narcissism.

More Divorce Statistics
July 13, 2010, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Statistics are fun.

Can’t vouch for the accuracy of these statistics.  They are published by a legal firm that’s obviously looking at them and licking their chops.  I wonder how many divorce attorneys grew up in divorce.  Is that even possible from an emotional stand-point?

I guess the reason that California’s Divorce Statistics are always left out of the CDC’s Statistics is, because, well, it’s probably obvious.  Watching married couples move to the state is exactly the same as watching lemmings run off a cliff.

The median duration of a marriage is 7.2 years.”

–This is the time it takes for Uranus, ruler of divorce to pass through one sign.  Uranus likes to break the status quo.

75% of all divorced people re-marry, half of them within three years.

65% of all second marriages fail.

80% of divorced men and 75% of women remarry whether or not they have children, most within 3 years.”

What’s the significance of 3 years?  One Venus Return to get over the Divorce? And then another Venus Return to meet someone new and get hitched again?  Venus rules Marriage and one on one relationships.

“ONE in TWELVE couples will be heading for a divorce court after 24 months – more than double the figure for 7 years.”

That’s an easy one.  2 years is a Mars Return.  Mars rules impulsiveness and rash actions and individuality.  As ruler of Aries it opposes Libra, sign of Marriage, which is Venus’ domain.

“There are an estimated 1,075,000 children involved in divorce or 16.8 children per one thousand under the age of eighteen who are involved in their parents’ divorce.”

Huh, that’s not as high a figure as I expect.  No wonder the psych professions don’t follow us.  We’re not a big enough piece of the marketing pie.

“65% of divorces are initiated by women.”

Women are shown in Astrology by the Moon and Venus.  Not considering the usual initiators.  We live in interesting times.

“Single fathers maintaining their own household: 1.786 million
Single mothers maintaining their own household: 7.571 million

Single fathers living in the home of a relative: 240,000
Single mothers living in the home of a relative: 1.633 million

Single fathers who are divorced: 913,000
Single mothers who are divorced: 3.392 million

How can there be a difference in these two numbers?

Single fathers never married: 693,000
Single mothers never married: 4.181 million

–and these?  that’s a lot of trips to the sperm bank, let me tell ya.

Single fathers raising one child: 1,300,000
Single mothers raising one child: 5.239 million

Single fathers raising four or more children: 55,000
Single mothers raising four or more children: 475,000

Percentage of children (by race) living in two-parent households in 1998:
White: 74%
Black: 36%
Hispanic: 64%

Percentage of children with single parents (by gender) earning under $12,500 in 1998:
Living with fathers: 17%
Living with mothers: 41%

Another Escape Artist – Colton Harris-Moore

In a previous post I wrote about Child of D Frank Abagnale, Jr. who was featured in a Leonardo di Caprio movie (and in his own book) Catch Me If You Can.  It looks like another escape artist/criminal child has now been caught.  Colton Harris-Moore of Washington State was caught in Bermuda after running from the law for 2 years.  Clayton escaped from a half way house in April, 2008 and has been evading the police ever since, surviving mostly by stealing.

I had to look if he was, like Abagnale, Jr. a traumatized child of divorce.  It seems that he has a large fan base.  Have to admit, after reading what I can find about his childhood I’m a fan as well (well, not of the crimes).

According to Wikipedia, Colton Harris-Moore was born Mar. 22, 1991 on Camano Island, Washington.  His Father walked out when Clayton was 2 years old.  Clayton’s last memory was of his Father trying to strangle him. 2 years represents the first Mars Return.  And Mars represents violence.  And this is an example, of course, of a Mars Return child in extreme stress. Clayton’s Mother remarried but Clayton’s step-father died when Clayton was 7.  This would have been around the time of his first Lunar square.  There is a possibility that Mars and Moon are in conjunction with each other in Clayton’s chart.  This is an aspect showing great emotional volatility.  But, if both planets are in the sign of Gemini this also shows Clayton’s extreme cleverness in escaping from capture.

How this connects with astrology of Clayton’s chart is amazing.  Clayton’s natal Mars is probably highly afflicted.  It is squaring his natal Sun and possibly in conjunction with his natal Moon.  Both of these contacts can show a person with some impulse control and anger issues on their own without the stress.  They internalize the conflicts that the parents have with each other.  The prominence of this aspect in Clayton’s chart is amplified because Mars and possibly the Moon are both out-of-bounds.  This means that their influence is extra strong.  This configuration is also connected with the Aries points because the Sun at least is placed there.  This explains Colton’s fame as planets on the Aries Points bring a person into the public eye through those planets.  Transiting Pluto is squaring this natal aspect and Pluto also brings Fame (and capture).

Colton’s natal Mars is at 25 Gemini.  He had his Return before his 2d birthday.  When he was turning 2 Mars was going through a long retrograde in the sign of Cancer which indicates a lot of emotional stress at home.  He was probably under the influence of his first progressed Lunar Square at age 7 when his step-father passed away which could exaggerate the tension of Mars-Moon-Sun even more.

Natal Saturn is at 5 Aquarius opposing natal Jupiter at 4 Leo.  Clayton has a good understanding of how people relate to each other on a political level.  He is also a risk taker.

Abagnale, Jr. turned his life around.  I hope that Clayton can figure out how to do the same.

Once again I don’t feel good about putting him under the Bad Child of Divorce category.

Good Advice

Was stunned to actually read a column in this morning’s newspaper concerning divorce.  A guy writes an advice column called “Male Call.” Today’s article is titled “Beware if he’s just not that into your kid.”  The answer is right on and it’s even humorous.  A woman, turning 30 and obviously desperate, writes in that she’s in a relationship with a guy who really wants kids, but when she watches him with her son from a previous marriage she observes that they don’t seem to get along.  “Male Call” warns her about how if she marries this guy and has kids that her kids will live in the “two tiered” household where the son from the previous relationship will always feel left out.  “Say you do choose to procreate with this fellow.  Will it end up being a two-tiered family?  As in, your child is merely tolerated, but the new ones are the ‘real’ family?  That’s an excellent recipe for ‘acting out’ on the part of your child, also known as ‘Cage Match With Step-dad’ after he/she reaches puberty.

It’s interesting how the sexes understand different parts of parenting.  To hand it to this mother, she is asking.  A Father would never ask for the advice in the first place.  He would just marry a woman and figure that she and the kids can sort it out on their own.  You notice that step-mothers never mention anything about their husbands as being part of the problem.  Everything is blamed on the kid and the ex-wife.  (That’s because of money, of course).  But concerning the advice for understanding the actual problem I think I might recommend deferring to the guys.  They aren’t afraid to look into the future and see an unsolvable problem.

From the last paragraph in this column is:  “So we’re not really sure there is a way to ‘ease the transition’ for the boyfriend.  He either gets along with your kid, or he doesn’t.  And if he doesn’t maybe you should give this a little more time before deciding to have another child.”  How nice to be asking this question before taking more big leaps in the relationship.  How nice to wait and see and give it more time.

Of course, with women, I think there is an added power control issue within a relationship.  If she rushes in and adds a child of her own to the mix then she has a lot more control in all the relationships.

I remember going to a sort of Lilith fest for writers in the San Francisco Bay area one year.  Not that I’m a writer but at that point I really wanted to be.  The key speaker was a remarkably witty, funny person and she made a point out of pointing out that her half brother or sister (can’t remember which) simply never got over her Mother being in their lives.  She, of course, was the Golden Girl who grew up with her own Mother and her own Father and her own House. And these others were just visitors who made everyone grumpy.  And, as an adult, still, she is still defensive about how must easier she had it than her siblings with that good old “Oh come on, can’t we just get along?”

Kind of funny how a writer who writes mostly about family issues just doesn’t want to discuss a problem that anyone else in her family is having.

Anyway, Mr. Male Call, hope you aren’t offended that I’ve linked to you from my hostile blog about the unsolved problems of the world.  I hope you get syndicated.  Thanks for the humor, too.  I strongly urge everyone entering into a step- situation to take martial arts classes too.