Spoiled Children of Divorce


Advice From the Radio Lawyer

Wonders never cease!  If I’m driving in the middle of the day, I listen to a radio talk show with a lawyer named Lem Tillem whenever I can.  Today I heard good and sensitive advice coming from this guy regarding what I suspect is a Child of Divorce. Actually I don’t know if she was from divorce.  I only know that she is from a blended family and has a step-father. The Big D Word was left out of the conversation.  It could have been Divorce.  Generally it’s ok to mention Death but who knows?

The messed up supposed Child of Divorce who was the topic of conversation is all grown up with two children and a divorce of her own and emotionally and mentally has completely relapsed to fetal position.  Actually she sounds like she’s got some anger issues as well (what do the DSM’ers call this?  Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder?)  The Grown Child’s Mother generously had offered to let her stay in a spare house rent free if she would only pay the utilities and keep the place up but the daughter has let even that small part of the bargain go to hell.  The Mother is calling in to Tillem’s talk show in order to figure out how to evict her daughter from the house.  Tillem’s response to the Mother totally shocked me.  He said things like:

She’s obviously not dealing with a full deck of cards and she’s your daughter so you can’t throw her out.  (There was no answer from the Mother who was obviously shocked.  We had all just wanted to hear which form she is supposed to fill out).

Tillem had to repeat

She’s your daughter.  If it were my own kids I wouldn’t throw them out.  (Still no answer)

then he had to repeat

She’s your daughter.  Those are your grandchildren.

then he started to ask about the situation, why does a Mother want to throw her own sick daughter and her two kids out on to the street?  He  said something like

Is your husband your daughter’s father?

I wasn’t even wondering about this and everyone knows I love a pity party.  But, wow, was I caught off guard.  It probably went right over the Mother’s head.  Because God knows the Divorce (if is was a Divorce) probably happened 20 or 30 years ago.

The woman answers that the husband is the step-father.   And so the rest of the story starts to fall in line.  Blended Family stuff.  She’s worried about Spoiled Children of Divorce stuff maybe?  Tillem suggested that the Mother go into therapy in order to understand why she would throw her own screwed up daughter out on to the street when the daughter obviously is so out of it that she can’t even pay a phone bill.  It didn’t seem to sink in with the Mother.   We got to hear that there are 5 children total and that the incapacitated daughter would not be given any special treatment in a will regarding staying in the house if the mother were to die today.  So, if the Mother were dead, the daughter would be thrown out on to the street anyway.  And that’s probably why the daughter doesn’t give a shit in the first place.  She knows she’s not worth a poo.  (There rarely is enough love to go around in normal families, but in blended families it becomes a joke)

This is valuable Real Estate we’re talking about here, after all.  Not grown children who are falling apart because in addition to going through her own divorce she is reliving the one she went through and never received help in getting through when she was a kid?  In Divorce, everyone knows that everyone’s on their own.  Screw ups can be replaced.  (Actually, I really do feel shocked and left out when I see those news interviews of people who have just lost their homes and all their belongings to floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.  Because they say things like, Thank God we all have each other.  That sort of thankfulness doesn’t often belong in divorced homes because everyone’s such a burden).

Anyway, Tillem did not say something like, have you ever thought of going over to the house once a week in order to help your daughter deal with things so that she might be able to heal out of this rough patch? For example, have you ever thought of just adding an extra hand rather than your criticisms and threats?  Does that take too much time for your new blended family/husband?

The daughter is acting like a jerk, admittedly.  But Tillem was able to discern between a spoiled brat and a person who needs help and is not loved.  He doesn’t say to 5150 her which is the natural advice of the psychologists.  He tells the Mother to just suck up her own miseries and to keep a roof over her family and to call him back in a year.  If the Mother were to drop her business sense and to just stand by this kid for a year, probably the woman would spring back to life within that time.   Okay, it may take a few years of graduated withdrawal.  I don’t know.  It wasn’t the daughter who had called in.  It would take some selflessness on the Mother’s part, of course  ….  and she has moved on with her own life so why can’t her grown daughter just do the same?

Funny, how the individuality of each child seems to be of no concern to biological parents in blended families.  Only thing that matters is that it all looks like a group photo.

Anyway, Thanks Lem Tillem.  He never had to really mention any of the horror words.  He just mentioned the Parent-Child bond and the helping the person in need thing.  That was awesome.


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