Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Natasha Trethewey

Pulitzer Prizewinning Poetess Natasha Trethewey is a Child of Divorce.  I heard her interviewed on the NPR Program Fresh Air yesterday.

I was first attracted to the interview because I couldn’t believe what amazingly long sentences Trethewey can spin.  She can assemble more thoughts into a single sentence in a way that still makes sense than anyone I’ve ever heard.  So it made sense that she’s a poet. Her personal story is even more amazing.

Trethewey won the Pulitzer for her collection of poems called Native Guard.  Some of these poems are about her Mother who was murdered by her Step-Father when Trethewey was 19 years old.  Trethewey’s younger brother witnessed the murder when he was 11 (or 12) years old.  (Sorry I was listening while driving in the car and I can’t remember the details really well).

Trethewey was born in Mississippi. Her parents divorced at some point before Trethewey started grade school.  She lived with her Mother in Georgia and spent Summers in New Orleans with her Father and with her Grandmother in  Mississippi.

Her new book is about how her family was affected by Hurricane Katrina.  Her Brother was destroyed financially and, out of desperation, turned to dealing drugs.   It turns out that he was arrested for possession of Cocaine the same day that Trethewey was awarded the Pulitzer.  Have to sit down with this astrology chart at some point in the future when I can be very very quiet…  This date will be interesting to look at from an astrological point of view as it was 10 days before Trethewey’s 41st Birthday.  By coincidence, Trethewey’s Mother was killed 10 days before her (the Mother’s) 41st Birthday as well.  It’s amazing to hear a very articulate poet discuss the complicated and confusing feelings and methods of coping with this amount of tragedy.  I sure would like to hear her ideas, if any, about her parents’ divorce.  I’m a little slow at reading poetry but I’ll be looking for both books.  The new book is called Beyond Katrina.

Trethewey is bi-racial.  Her Mother was an African American Social Worker and her Father is a White College Professor.  Her Step-Father (don’t know race, etc) was a Vietnam Veteran and worked for an Air Conditioning and Heating Company.  The story about what Trethewey’s brother had to go through is unbelievable.  As I said he was 11 or 12 years old at the time of the murder.  His parents had already divorced and I don’t know what age he was at that point.

How Far Away From Mommy Will You Ever Really Move?
August 19, 2010, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Birth Order, Leaving the "Nest", relationship with Mother

On another website a poster from Germany started a thread asking if American children tend to move out of their parents’ house at a younger age than European children and kids from other countries.  Probably the answer is yes.  There were quite a few stories of kids leaving a house to get away from a step-parent but there were just as many other stories of kids who needed to get out within weeks of turning 18.

Someone added a link to this article.  Researchers Robert A. Pollack, Ph.D and Janice Compton did a study for the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center and found some interesting results about how the majority of kids stay within proximity of their Mothers after the age of 25.  They studied the issue from many points of view.  Birth Order has no impact except that only children tend to stay around their Mothers.  Gender has no impact except that unmarried men are more likely to live with their Mothers than unmarried Women (20 percent).  Also, if you go to College you are less likely to live close to your Mother.  There were other results regarding race and ethnicity and marriage listed as well.  Lots of people don’t cut these strings.

I guess I will add this:  there was no mention of what children from Divorce do or don’t do.  They do a comparison study to see how much kids from divorce worry about their Divorced Mothers as compared with worrying about their Intact Mothers.  Maybe Elizabeth Marquardt has some information about this.  I remember that she did manage to ask some related questions.

Alycia Mesiti-Allen
August 17, 2010, 1:27 am
Filed under: Courts, Custody, money, Murder, Violence

About 4 years ago a 14 year old girl went missing.  Her name was Alycia Mesiti-Allen.  Alycia and her older brother went through 8 years of moving around as their parents struggled to get their lives together and eventually divorced.  On November 22, 2005 a court made the decision to hand both children over to the care of their Father and they went to live with him in Central Inland California.  Thing is, the Father ran a Meth lab and he was violent and the children and their Mother had been running from shelter to shelter trying to get away from him.  The Mother also had some problems, no doubt in part related to the abuse that she suffered from her violent husband.  She didn’t have enough money to pay for an attorney so couldn’t represent herself in court.  (I suppose if one can pay for a lawyer one is considered the better parent by the courts, even if one gets one’s money from cooking Meth at home instead of dinner).

Alycia went missing on Aug. 14, 2006.  Because the Father said that she had gone on a camping trip and had run away, the police dropped the case.  Alycia’s body wasn’t found until the police detective handling the case retired and a new detective reviewed it.  Alycia’s body was discovered in the back yard of the house where her Father had lived on Mar. 25th, 2009 (Ceres, CA).  It is thought that she was murdered by her Father.

So, Alycia’s Mother is trying to have the case reviewed by the courts.  Since he’s already in jail on drug charges they won’t be bothered (this is murder, isn’t it?)  Alycia’s Mother also wants low income families to have representation in court.

“We do not want another child to meet Alycia’s fate, nor do we want another family to suffer this incomprehensible pain because of mistakes made in family court.  We want low income families to have a chance at fairness in court proceedings.  So far, judicial and legal officials in Santa Clara County have turned a deaf ear to our pleadings.  How can they be so complacent about the preventable murder of a defenseless and innocent child?”

An article with more detail about the case is here.

I wish Alycia’s Mother much healing and thank her for her activism.  I wish Alycia’s brother well.  And I hope that the Courts will pay attention and try to review how they deal with representation of lower income parents.

Rest in Peace, Alycia.

Is a Child’s Personality Determined By Age 6?
August 12, 2010, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Astrology stuff, links to articles, Uncategorized

A researcher from Riverside (UC?) has just published a study which says that a child’s personality is set in place by the time he is 6 years old.   This certainly explains why so many adults act like First Graders.

The study matched personality scores of 2,400 children graded by their teachers in Hawaii in the 1960s with 144 of those same children as adults 40 years later.  I wonder if President Obama was included in the study.   At any rate, the people who were interviewed 40 years later seemed to show the same personality traits that their 1st grade Teachers had rated them on concerning personality.  The 4 elements which are said to determine personality are “talkativeness” “adaptability” “impulsiveness” and “self-minimizing behavior”.  Explanations of what those mean and how effectively people use them as adults are explained in this article about the study, among others.

What this study is supposed to show is that childrens’ personalities are not affected by events that happen to them later on in life, as is suggested by other researchers.  I wonder if the researchers acknowledge that 144 people who grew up in Hawaii in the 1960s doesn’t really seem to show anything conclusive to me.  Plus, I wouldn’t really expect kids growing up in Hawaii to represent normal personality development.  Hawaii in the 60s would have been a pretty bucolic place.  Why doesn’t anyone ever perform these studies on kids growing up in the Appalachia’s, North Dakota and downtown Detroit?

At any rate, I’m trying to match up these findings with the Astrology Returns Cycles and it’s a good exercise.  By the Age of 6 a child has gone through multiple Lunar Returns, several Mercury and Venus Returns, 3 Mars Returns and half of a Jupiter Return.  Except for the Lunar Returns, these are all inner planets which describe individuality.  Jupiter, along with Saturn, shows a connection with other children of a child’s same age as Jupiter changes signs roughly once a year.  So, Jupiter and Saturn show how a child relates to other kids of his close age.  The Outer Planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto show how a child relates within his generation.

At Age 6 children are just finishing the Jupiter Opposition.  If there’s any planet in astrology that describes “personality” it would be the Jupiterians.  Generally described as “personality plus.”  Jupiter is gregarious and larger than life. I showed a few examples of celebrities whose parents divorced when they were Age 6 and showed how I thought that the Jupiter Opposition shows a sort of larger than life style and expression.  Perhaps the word I was looking for was “personality.”

To backtrack, Astrology, at least the astrology that specializes in psychology, looks at 3 factors which describe the basic elements of an individual.  Personality is described by a person’s Ascendant.  This is the Sign, Ruler, and planets which are contained within the 1st house and is determined mostly by the time of day and place where an individual is born.  Along with Personality, Astrology recognizes the Sun and the Moon as showing other major components of a person.  The Sun describes Ego and the Moon describes the Character.  So, what I’m thinking is that Astrology paints a more broad minded portrait of human nature than psychology does, but all I’ve read of this study is what the media chooses to say about it and that’s probably just a sales pitch.

In the natural horoscope wheel the Personality is described by the first house.  Individual charts will show different sign and planetary emphasis in their 1st house, but the Natural Astrology Chart is ruled by the sign of Aries and the planet Mars.  A child goes through his first Mars Return usually right before his second Birthday and roughly every other year thereafter.  I talked about this in the blog post on “Age 2.”  Mars/Aries is where an Astrologer will look for how a child expresses Impulsiveness, self-assertion, and “doing one’s own thing” as these are key descriptors for Mars.  And Mars Returns are a major part of childhood.

Mars is also a key ruler of relationships through his rulership of the Male/Masculine side of people and because he rules one end of the Relationship Axis on the Wheel.  Although this is rarely included in interpretations about Mars I did note in my post that Children going through their Divorce at Age 2 seem to be the ones who most blame themselves for their parents’ split.  So, in a way, the personality trait which measures “self-minimizing” behavior may actually be related to Mars.

The 2d Key Element of Individuals is the Sun which shows the Ego.  A child goes through his first Solar Return on his first Birthday and every year thereafter.  The Sun in Astrology indicates the Ego.  Mars will show a creative spark or urge, the urge to be first, acting before thinking.  Sun will show a Creative Expression.  The Sun rules self-confidence as well as ego-centricity.  A child learns “self-minimizing” behaviors by over-stepping the bounds of his naturally big ego and his naturally forthright Mars impulses.  The Sun and its sign Leo are where we get our most generous traits from.  They rule the heart and big-heartedness.

Jupiter is not considered to rule a major part of an Individual by Astrology but maybe it ought to be.  There are interesting links with both the Sun and Mars because these three are the Fire Signs of the Zodiac.  They rule together within a Harmonious Trine.  Fire gives impulsive, creativity, enthusiasm, positive, out-going, adventurous, masculine energy to an individual.  Their energies are easy to see in most children.

Jupiter could be said to rule the personality traits that the Teachers graded on and that the researcher of the study followed.  Because Jupiter rules two Mutable Signs (Pisces in Old Style Astrology) it is considered very “adaptable.”  “Mutable” means “flexibility” and “adaptability.”

As ruler of the Mutable Signs Jupiter also is connected with “talkativeness” through language development and grammar.  I’ve discussed its connections with vocabulary development at the time of the square transit of the Return Cycle at Age 3 and with it’s overdoing of use of vocabulary, often through “potty mouth” during the trine at Age 4.  It’s interesting that by Age 6, Jupiter will be opposing itself.

Jupiter won’t have a full Return, however, until between the Ages 10 and 12 in a child.  So, I can’t really relate the astrology very strongly to the researcher’s findings in this study.  This first return cycle seems to mark the end of childhood.

What is left out, when compared with Astrology, is the 3d Key Element that Astrology looks at in Individuals is the provided by the Moon. The Moon is said to determine an individual’s character.

I think this might be what the researcher’s study is missing out on.  Modern Society, and the United States in particular, is known to be lacking in encouraging the Lunar side of people.  This is the feminine side of humanity.  The Moon shows the reflective and more internal part of a person and is related to a person’s deepest needs and hungers.  It can show how a person best handles his Shadow side because the Moon doesn’t really fear the Dark the way that the Sun does.

The Moon is the next influential partial Return cycle transit that is coming up by Age at around Age 6-7.  I’m going to write about it in relation to its counterpart Saturn Cycle transit.  Saturn rules the opposite sign that the Moon rules and indicates a person’s Destiny.  The two working together describe the old saying that “Character is Fate.” Kids who are around this age when their parents divorce seem to be strongly traumatized by the divorce.  And, although I don’t give advice here on this blog, I would tend to advise not forcing a child to go through a divorce at this age.

Personality is great, we do really well on a social level if we have a positive way of expressing our personality.  And we can’t do that if we don’t have the confidence that the Sun provides.  But what we do with it will be determined by the parts of the Horoscope which are related to Moon and Saturn.

With the current transit of Pluto just having changed signs from Sagittarius to Capricorn it makes sense that the psychologists would have focused on the Jupiterian element.  I wonder if they won’t begin to move on to understanding the Capricorn / Saturn side of children for the next 15 or 20 years.  Can’t remember how long Pluto will be in Capricorn.

Copyright 2010 Spoiled Children of Divorce Blog, All Rights Reserved

Kids Who Move Around A Lot

I’m trying to read what is considered a classic book on child rearing, the name of which I can’t really remember, something on Nurturing?  It’s written by a woman who says that kids will turn out the way they turn out whether they have good parenting or not.  It tests the Nature v. Nurture theories in order to let the parents off the hook.  Needless to say it’s been a bestseller.

The book is highly praised by Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Pinker so it has to be good.  And it’s fun to read, the writer lists all kinds of interesting studies and has a strong voice/attitude.  And then I start to get hot-headed about the stupid Children of D comments.  Watching the dance around talking about growing up in a split household is so unbelievably unbelievable.  The writer, can’t remember her name, will get it at some point, talks about a lot of the same studies that Paul Ekman talked about in his book, but from the point of view of the modern woman who is free to do as she pleases in life in order to pursue her happiness.  She does discuss Divorce, about maybe 30 pages worth in a book that’s about 400 pages long.  In those pages there is the stupid argument about the study that says that kids who grow up in Divorce are more screwed up than the kids who suffer the death of a parent.  She, the writer, rebutts that idea saying  it would surely be a whole lot worse to have had a parent who died of AIDS than to have have divorced parents.  What is the ratio of kids who had a parent who died of AIDS to the kids who are growing up in Divorce?  I’ve never met someone whose parent died of AIDS so I really can’t say.  So, a lot of the arguments are unbelievably immature and silly. A kid from a divorced family whose parent dies of AIDS has to go through the whole process by himself without the support of a healthy family to share the experience with.  Now, there’s something to feel bad about.

The writer says these things sort of in the same obnoxious tone that I say stupid things so it doesn’t bother me all that much (but I will point out that they are stupid arguments).

What does bother me is that all the arguments about how Divorce isn’t a difficult situation for a kid to grow up are stuck in the Chapter on Dysfunctional Families.

For one, when you are growing up in Divorce you are not necessarily growing up in a dysfunctional family. You might be growing up in two dysfunctional families.  You might be growing up in two functional families but you are strangers with half of the members in each and don’t really feel like you belong anywhere.  It is highly likely that you are growing up in one normal family and one dysfunctional family, depending on which parent enters a 12 step program (or not, their preference).  And the members of the normal family will constantly discuss how abnormal the member of your dysfunctional family are, but they acknowledge that they can do nothing to help you with that problem which makes you totally hate functional people who are generally very self-involved and concerned about their own self-preservation.  And, anyway, the only people who really view themselves as being functional are the shrinks, of course, and we all know how far from reality that is.

So, at any rate, the writer of the book on nurturing, or how we don’t need nurturing, says that one of the real problems for children, the thing that really does cause stress for a child is moving around a lot.  It turns out that the writer’s family moved around a lot and she’s set up the entire tone of the book around her own experience and needs.  She doesn’t discuss packing suitcases or traveling on airplanes alone so I don’t know how much she really did move around as a child.  I mean, by some kids’ standards, she probably had a pretty stable environment.  I mean,  a lot can happen inside the silverware drawer in one parent’s house during the week that you are at the other parent’s house.

So, folks, there are studies out there that say that kids who move around a lot during childhood are more stressed out than kids who don’t move around a lot.  Does this sound like something that many kids from divorce go through?  Why can’t the writer and her buds make this mental leap?  How difficult is it really to connect the dots here?  I know, I know, talking about how divorce wrecks the kids is a marketer’s nightmare.

You know, it really doesn’t matter as long as the CDC refuses to add California to their Divorce Statistics.  How can you claim to have any statistics at all about Divorce in the U.S. if you don’t include the most populated state, the State where everyone moves to and divorces a year later in order to find themselves?  The housing in California is so expensive and tight that many kids from Divorce live in the closet in their Mothers’ apartments for the first two years after the divorce.  Is this cozy?  Why yes, it must be.  That’s why Mommy’s going to school to become a shrink.  So she can help others to not feel guilty about making their kids live in the closet too and then if everyone’s doing it it must be right.  Right?

Dolores the Horse and Other Great Books for Kids
August 6, 2010, 1:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Someone is currently searching the Internet for a Children’s Book called Dolores the Horse and Her Parents’ Divorce.  Have no idea what that’s about, was hoping to at least see what the cover would look like, but couldn’t find any real mention of the book.  But it must be great.

It also led me to this Facebook page which lists some really funny titles for kids’ books.  Books the Library will never put on a list.  You Were An Accident. When I was a kid, I actually had a friend whose parents admitted that to her and she never stopped talking about it.


Ann Packer Story
August 3, 2010, 6:59 am
Filed under: Alcoholism, creativity, Fiction about Divorce

The Summer 2010 (Vol. 14, #2) issue of Zoetrope:  All Story has a story about being a grown up kid from Divorce.  “Thing Said or Done” is written by Ann Packer (p.12).  Definitely a great writer.  The story is written from the point of view of an older daughter who is attending her brother’s wedding.   Her parents are divorced and she must mediate between them.

I sort of sensed that Packer wasn’t a Child of D because there were no emotional undercurrents in the descriptions.  That was sort of what the story was about. The Father is narcissistic and the Mother is detached.  They’ve been divorced for 35 years yet the tensions remain and no one has ever discussed any of it. The main character did remind me of my step-sister (I sort of was getting jealous that maybe she did write it actually).  But, since there was no discussion of rage or resentment or exhaustion which is pretty prominent in most Child of D’s conversations (I remember a couple of tirades my step-sister trying to find food and going on about how the refrigerator was always empty because they were poor, but there was always money for cigarettes and booze) about family, I was wondering…

So I looked Ann Packer up on Wikipedia to see if she’s a Child of D.  No.  But, wow, she had a pretty difficult situation.  Her Father had a stroke and committed suicide 3 years later.

The story does show the tensions of mixing the two narratives of parents into one setting.  You’ve got to be a really great writer to do that.  And you do have to be a little emotionally numb as well.