Spoiled Children of Divorce

January 30, 2011, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Books

I’m sort of sitting here limp like a wet noodle with shock.  I pulled a book off the library shelf called  NurtureShock is written by authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman.  It’s very new.  Very trendy.  Published in 2009.  It’s about modern child rearing.

Author Po Bronson was born in 1964.  If he didn’t experience Divorce as a child then at least half of his friends did.  Half of the people he works with did.  Bronson’s certainly not aware of Divorce as it affects children.

The bio on the back flap of the cover says that Bronson lives in San Francisco, California with his wife and two children.  As I’ve said before California is the most heavily populated state in the United States with probably the highest Divorce rate.  Yet, the CDC hasn’t included Divorce rates for California with the National Statistics since the early 1980s.  And that pretty much explains why people think that the Divorce rate has leveled off.  As a matter of fact, while  trying to find out what the Divorce rate for California might actually be, I went through the Wikipedia entries for all the counties in California to pull up household statistics county by county.  All but two of the counties in California include a paragraph on Statistics about households in the counties.  Not about divorce specifically, but about how many households have children.  Some mention single parents, some don’t.  San Francisco is one of the two counties which doesn’t mention any of this.  As they say:  Zip, Zero, Nadda.  San Francisco have the lowest child per household of any county in California.  I think about 15 percent of the households have a kid knocking around in the cupboards somewhere.  Go to Castro Street on Halloween and you’ll see how true this statistic is.  Bronson’s kids have Bronson’s friends for playmates.

The subjects that are written about in the book are really entertaining so I guess the idea for the book was drummed up while Bronson was in a fallow period of figuring out what to write about next. He’s a best-selling writer and was probably contracted to spit this thing out.

There’s a Chapter on how kids these days get 1 hour less sleep a day than they did 30 years ago.   That will be an interesting read.  I’m expecting to read some physics about how this occurs because of some sort of lightbulb radiation.  Anxiety over Mommy who’s crying in the next room drunk off her ass won’t be included as one of the reasons.  I’m absolutely sure of that.

There’s a chapter on how white parents don’t talk about race with their children.  Huh?  Wull, that’s news to me.  Bronson, of course, is talking about how White People living in either Pacific Heights or Telegraph Hill don’t talk about race with their children.  That’s because the public school systems in San Francisco are so bad that rich White Parents put their kids in exclusive private schools where minority kids only go if they are super geniuses on scholarship.  I guess in this chapter I’ll just replace the word  “Race” with the word  “Divorce” to understand the way that White People parent use denial in their parenting procedures. We must remember that only 15 percent of adults in San Francisco even have children.  And, if making less than $100,000 per year, these people are most likely Hispanic.  Poor whites and blacks have moved over to the East Bay.

Big Chapter on Siblings.  Wonder if Step-Siblings will be mentioned.  Half siblings?  The Birth Order lecture but without the re-Birth Order of Step Families and Half Families?  That’s to be expected.  Maybe I’ll be surprised?   This is a book about shock, after all.

“Divorce” isn’t mentioned in the Table of Contents.  “Divorce” isn’t listed in the index.  This is a book about Modern Child Psychology?  “Hey Mom  I’m, I’m, I’m Where’s Home?  Call me later, Mom, I’ll be at the neighbors’.”


Okay, Okay, I’m negative and mean and suffer from Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder (teehee).  And I’m really, really frustrated and totally freaked out by this.  And I haven’t read the book yet.  I’m just speculating. (but, really folks, how can people be so damn dumb?)

Study: Suicidal Ideation much higher for Adult Children of Divorce

The University of Toronto has just published yet another amazing finding on long term effects of Divorce which it published in the Jan. 19, 2011 issue of Psychiatry Research.  That is, Children of Divorce are much more likely to seriously consider Suicide later on as adults.

I’m not sure if I’m reading the article correctly so it’s likely that the statistical information down below is correctly quoted.  I need to take a class on how to understand Statistics, obviously.  I also get really upset when the program director is quoted as telling the Mothers not to panic about their kids.  And, of course, nothing is said to reassure the folks who are directly affected by this information, namely the adult Sons and Daughters of Divorce (we are a ca$h cow for psychiatry, after all.  Another weird twist on the “Do No Harm” needlepoint sampler that Modern Medicine hangs over its creepy threshold.  (Have I ever said what happened to me when the drugs the psychiatrist gave me made me suicidal?  She didn’t call me back for 3 days, literally snickered, and then didn’t write the episode down in her notes — and I think was eventually fired.  Thing is, she was divorced and a single mother herself and there’s no way in Hell she was going to put up with this guilt trip).


At any rate.  Here is the information as I understand it.  Link to Medline is here.  Article published Jan. 2011 Psychiatry Research.  (My Mother attempted Suicide 4 x.  3x were right after my Father left.  My Father later said he thought about Suicide all the time.  Both my Brother and I have attempted Suicide. I seriously doubt my Step-Mother has ever thought about Suicide, although she did have to quit drinking because her liver couldn’t handle the booze and she was going to die. –She was just there for the money.)

Sons who come from Divorced families are 3 times more likely than Sons from Intact Families.  It becomes much more likely if they also suffered from physical abuse, parents with addiction issues, or unemployment.

Daughters from Divorced families are 83 percent more likely than Daughters from Intact Families to have thoughts of killing themselves.  It doesn’t matter if physical abuse, addiction, or unemployment was part of home life.

“Safari” by Jennifer Egan

Heard a partial short story reading on NPR while driving tonight.  “Safari” by Jennifer Egan.  As happens while driving the car I usually haven’t got a clue what I’m listening to and for some reason it’s always really interesting that way.  Egan was interviewed after the reading and explained parts of the story which have to do with “unstable family situations.”  She discussed her own childhood and her parents’ divorce.  So I had to come home to see if the story is available on the Internet.  Turns out there’s an editor at The New Yorker who doesn’t mind publishing stories about Children of Divorce:


The story is about a “family” going on a Safari vacation together for three weeks.  Dad is twice divorced and has brought along his new girlfriend.  Two of his children are there.   All the characters are weaving in and out of understanding of what their relationships with each other are.  The story is told from the fractured points of view of each character and with a fractured sense of timing, a sort of whirlwind of who, what, when, why where, which expresses the unstable situation.  Relationships, Sex, self understanding, grief, boredom are all told by characters at completely different places in their lives and without any cohesive tribal understanding of the events.  In the background, meanwhile, there is the structured scheduling of the trip and on another level the lives of each character past, present and future is told with a sort of innocent but frightening frankness.   I think that this is sort of the attitude that Children of Divorce take on in life in order to try to make sense of it all.  There was no sense of emotion, the characters continue with their lives trying to follow along the way they have followed the scheduling of this trip.  Event after event is told with a sort of inability to really feel what is going on.  In the end there is this matter of factness about how life unfolds along with a great sense of emotional loss.  (Sorry went on a little too long here, but I really liked the story)

Jennifer Egan’s parents divorced when she was around 2 years old.  Her Father was an alcoholic who rehabed in his 40s.  She was her parents’ only child together and was the oldest in her new family that her Mother created with her Step Father.  Egan was born in the Midwest.  Moved to San Francisco when she was 7 years old.  She is married and I believe has two sons and lives on the East Coast.  I can’t vouch for the accuracy of any of these details.

Fresh Air Interview: The Memory Palace

Writer and Artist Mira Bartok is interviewed by Terry Gross on the NPR program Fresh Air about a memoir she has written called The Memory Palace.

I’m assuming that Mira Bartok is a Child of Divorce but the Big D is never mentioned in the interview.  Mira’s relationship with her Father is briefly mentioned to say that he left the family when she was 4 years old and Mira moved with her Sister and her Mother into their Grandparents’ house.  Her Mother, an accompalished pianist, suffered from schizophrenia and her Grandfather seems to also have some sort of mental illness.  Both Mother and Grandfather were violent.  Mira and her Sister have both achieved success in life working in the humanities.

The blurb which drew me to the interview said that Mira began to understand her Mother’s illness better after suffering traumatic brain injury when a Truck hit her when she was 40.  She suffers from memory problems, both short and long term.

The interview with Terry Gross mostly discusses what it must be like to have a mentally ill family member who ends up homeless because their behavior is impossible to treat.  I wish there had been discussion about how it might be different to be the child of a mentally ill parent as I feel that sets up a different relationship dynamic than for a parent to deal with a mentally ill child.  It’s much easier to get a child into treatment than it is for a child because the parent is used to giving the commands rather than receiving them.

At one point Bartok says something like (not an exact quote most likely):

“We (she and her sister) needed to be safe and we needed for someone to keep her safe.”

I think that this is what parenting is all about and I think it is a huge problem for Children of Divorce, whether we want to say it or not.  The parents think that if they assure the child that he’s loved that this is enough.  But, then, the child marries a new partner and does nothing to protect the child from entering into the new relationship at his own emotional speed.  Since Bartok is probably around the same age that I am I know that girls of our generation were rarely considered “safe” when left alone.  Probably this is less so now but I don’t have a clue.

Bartok’s Grandfather died at some point, not sure what age she was at that point.  She placed her Grandmother into an eldercare program in 1989 and her Mother’s situation deteriorated very quickly after that.  By 1990 she was homeless.  There is great discussion here about how and why Bartok couldn’t take care of her Mother and didn’t talk to her for 17 years.  Her Mother lived to be more than 80 years old and the homeless shelter where she had lived for a few years before her death is named after her.

Am really interested to read this book.  Guess I’m jumping the gun by writing about it right now.  Wonder what it must be like to have memory problems and to be trying patch up such a difficult upbringing at the same time.


Exemplary Children of Divorce
January 10, 2011, 12:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

There have been all kinds of interesting manipulations of the software on this blog.  The most popular tag called “Exemplary Children of Divorce” doesn’t work so nobody can access information about successful children of divorce.  The posts are scrambled.


Is Zahra Baker’s step-mother doing something or is someone working on a little plagiarism job?

Maybe it’s just a bug in the system, but I sort of doubt it.