Spoiled Children of Divorce


Exemplary Children of Divorce – Mark Whitaker

Mark Whitaker is Managing Editor of CNN Worldwide.  I don’t know what that means exactly, except for the fact that it means that he’s intelligent and successful.

Whitaker has written his memoir.  I’ve only read a couple of blurbs about it.  Whitaker is bi-racial. His Father was a Scholar who specialized in African Studies.  His Mother was also an academic who taught French (I think).  His parents met when his Father signed up for his Mother’s class. They had two sons together.

His parents had a “Bad Divorce”  when Whitaker was 8 years old.  This means, according to my research, that Whitaker would have been heavily influenced by his first Saturn Square. Saturn rules the Father and Career Ambitions and Discipline.   On an emotional level Saturn can relate to depression and guilt and bitterness. In Whitaker’s case it’s in the sign of Sagittarius which rules Journalism, Law, Religion, International Affairs, Opinions, Free Spirits, Higher Education.  That certainly fits with becoming a journalist so one can see how being “stuck” in a phase such as this can blossom into good things down the line.  The Saturn in Sagittarius fits most of his descriptions about the divorce which is what I’m always looking for.  His parents were both academics.  They were brought together through an interest in foreign affairs.  His Father’s philandering was a main reason for the divorce and probably his drinking and irresponsible behavior was a major source of pain for Whitaker.  The Mother moved her sons across country where Whitaker found a positive outlet in journalism.  Sagittarius is often related to overdoing and excess and Whitaker began to eat excessively in reaction to the stress and pain.  Fortunately he is a Virgo so probably interest in diet and healthy lifestyle took over because he’s not overweight now.

I think that children who are going through a Saturn cycle transit will often hold their parents accountable for their behaviors later on more than some of the other age groups.   So parents should be prepared for that.  Children at that age are hitting a level of maturation which needs a sense of order as support.  They may develop a problem with overwork later on in life.

If this is true, then the Ages roughly for this particular need are around Age8 and Age 14.  Saturn transits are often connected with progressed Moon transits (Mother, emotional, interior life) and these two represent parenting and family and tradition.

As an off note it is interesting to see that Whitaker found his calling after moving across country after the divorce.  He developed an interest in journalism in his new school.  It’s interesting that his natal Mercury (writing, communications, co-ruler for Journalism along with Jupiter/Sagittarius)  is Retrograde in Virgo and stationed direct in 1969-70 which could have explained a release for communications.

CNN’s currently posting a video of Whitaker in which he talks about how he succeeded in spite of growing up in a difficult divorce situation.  



Sleep Disorders Related to Divorce

I suffer from sleep disorders.  I know that what I went through with my Mother after the divorce is a major reason for sending the problem over the top.  But, I’ve never had this recognized by a shrink.

I had no problem until after I stopped living with my Mother.  That is, the problem of being kept awake all night and screamed at among other things just stuck with me.  I didn’t notice it until after the other problem was removed from my life.

During my first year in College I had a kind of funny and loud roommate.  The guy living in the room next door asking me how I could stand it.  Truth is, I didn’t notice it.  I did flunk out of that college almost immediately after entering.  I did notice a huge problems in the next college I went to.  The problem wasn’t so much that I couldn’t sleep, it was because I had been put in to a room that was under a really noisy guy.  At that point, my anorexia had gotten a lot worse.  I had several severe nutritional deficiencies because of it.  One was a Vitamin B deficiency which was noticable because the sides of my mouth were cracked.  Vitamin B is related to nervous disorders.  So that could possibly be a problem.

But I think my problem went back further than the divorce.  If my parent’s problems, and specifically my Mother’s problem, had been handled responsibly (she was the loud one), I probably would have outgrown the problem.  But my Father removed himself from the situation and it became worse for the rest of us because of it.   As a child, I was sick all the time in the era when antibiotics were given away like candy by the doctors.  I was asthmatic and was given a medication which was composed of uppers and downers and some sort of extremely toxic asthma medication which was only effective at the dosage which it became fatal.  Asthma is considered a psychiatric problem by the Medcial Community., At least I know it has been up til pretty recently because I had a roommate, a Nurse, who used to bitch about her difficult asthmatic patients.  (Hang a rope around your neck and dangle for a day and you’ll know the psychology that’s behind asthma).  Another interesting thing is related to an unbelievably obvious environmental situation.   My bedroom was always right next to the kitchen.  And that’s where my parents used to party all night.  I had no choice about sleeping on those nights.  It was loud.  The piano was right up against my bedroom wall.  If I complained my Mother would yell at me, because, she was drunk, and an alcoholic.  And she was fun.  And I wasn’t.  I was grumpy because I couldn’t sleep, for one thing.

So, I found this old book in the library, from 1985.  (1984 is the last time that California counted Divorce Statistics. ) That’s when the “No Fault Parenting Laws” snuck in under the “No Fault Divorce Laws.”  At any rate, when I pick up these self help books I know that there won’t be a whole chapter which discusses “Divorce”.   I go straight to the index.  In this case, probably because parents were still aware that their children existed, there are a large amount of listing: 5 listings (small listings) of the word “Divorce.”  More recent books have completely stopped using the word.  It makes the parents unhappy.

So here we go:  Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.  By Richard Ferber, M.D., Director, Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, Children’s Hospital, Boston, 1985, this is paperback published 1986, Simon and Schuster.

p.  39 Chapter called “Developing Good Sleep Patterns”  Section called:  Should Your Child Sleep in Your Bed?”

It’s about how sleeping alone helps a child develop independence.  Kids can come between the parents, it can be a power play.  Single parents are lonely and will often want a kid to sleep with them and this creates problems for the child.

Author could have added a comment about how different this situation is for a child with a step-parent.  That child will know early on that he can’t go into his parents’ bed because of well, there’s a stranger in bed with Mommy and/or Daddy and they’re having #$&^%$ and ##%## sex (verbage censored to protect the parents who suffer from hypocrisy and arrogance).  We won’t discuss children of divorce who have to lie awake listening to their parents doing the deed with whomever.

p. 46-47:  Chapter 4 Nighttime Fears:  The Child Who is Anxious.

“At any stage of your child’s development, specific events may intensify certain anxieties.”

  • Separation Anxiety, If you become sick your child may not be able to leave your side because of guilt,
  • Toilet training trauma, that must have been a big ordeal for me thank god I don’t remember it,
  • “worries about ability to control herself” (funny, how the gender thing takes over in this writing because back in 1985 grammar was pretty conservative and writers always used the masculine).
  • Scary movies.
  • Fear of kidnapping.

Oook here it comes:  There’s one paragraph for toilet training anxieties, 6 lines about scary movie anxiety, then:

  • “And significant social stresses of any kind, over which the child has little control — illness, parental fighting, separation, divorce, alcoholism, death — may lead to a great deal of worry, guilt, anxiety, and fear at any age.”
  • Shit, give me a scary movie and a bowl of ice cream any old day.

Here’s what happens after you have been tucked in during your munchkin years with regards to dealing with anxiety in your life:

“During the day it is much easier to keep worries under control.  Most children keep pretty busy and don’t have time to brood over their problems.  But at night as your child gets into bed, turns out the light, and prepares for sleep, she may begin to worry.  If she lies quietly in bed, there is little to do but think, and her fantaises may run free.  As your child gets sleepy, her ability to avoid certain thoughts diminishes.  She has less control over her feelings, urges, and fears.  In this state she begins to feel, and may even act, more childish.   In this “regressed” state at night, a four-or five-year-old may need the same reassurance that a two- or three-year-old needs during the day.

Today, they just say it’s genetics and they gork the kid out on psych drugs.  Notice once again the referral to the female gender.  Today we know that boys suffer more because of divorce overall and are 3 times more likely to grow up suicidal.  So, maybe sexism is protective is some way.  Dash out their dreams young and they won’t grow up to disappoint.

Thank God that this last year tons of oil was spewed in to the Gulf Coast and radiactive Plutonium is spewing into the Pacific Ocean from Japan.  People at this time last year were worrying about how all the psych drugs were killing off the fish.  Pharmaceutical Industry is let off the hook for what people have been urinating into the oceans.

After this there is a long pause concering sleep problems existing as a result of parental divorce.  We don’t find another mention until page 154.  There are chapters about parental behavior, scheduling situations, medical causes.  Then the Big D again comes up under the “Interruptions during Sleep” Chapter (Mommy having Sex with b.ff in room next door?)  in a Chapter called “Sudden Partial Wakings.”  That’s funny because the planet Uranus is associated with Sudden Shocking Events, Divorce, Hopes, Wishes and on rare occassions, Spiritual Awakenings.  The spiritual astrologers calm their clients fears about what Uranus is doing to wreck their lives by telling them that these events are happening in order to give them great spiritual insights that they otherwise would have not been able to learn.  We are all in this ucky muck together, if we have control and order we can’t have chaos and chaos is what creates a happy society.  Stuff like that.  I don’t doubt that some of it is true.  I also fear Uranus transits like the plague.  Nothing says “We Love You but in a Distant, Irresponsible type of way because there’s just too much going on in our own lives” quite like a Uranus transit.  Uranus rules rebellious behaviors against Status quo.  So, it’s great for rebelling against things like the Catholic Church and starting a new business that looks to improve society through innovation., The problem is that Uranus is one of the last rulers of the Astrological Wheel.  It is a very adult energy which looks at communities as a whole and its placement on the chart sort of shows the trigger energy that makes the whole world just keep rolling around.  He’s the energy that says that nothing is permanent or lasts because permanence, in itself, is evil and keeps things from getting better.  He lets Aquarius Sun Dick Cheney stand in front of the World and promote anti-Gay propaganda all the while campaigning with his daughter who is Gay.  Weirdness.  I told you, it’s an adult energy.

At any rate, p. 154 begins talking about a boy named Christopher whose Father has recently died.  So, it’s not about Divorce, it’s about Death of a Parent.  Christopher would wake up an hour after falling asleep and scream out and wouldn’t respond to his Mother.  Then he would sleepwalker around the house until 4:00 am.  Mom got sick and was gone for two weeks, then she remarried and had a new baby.  Christopher got a lot worse and was doing his thing multiple times a night.  How to get Christopher to calm down?   So here’s what the Doctor found:

“When I saw Christopher he was a nice quiet youngster, but despite his calm exterior he seemed very tense and anxious.  I learned that his father and stepfather were alcoholics and there was some violence within his home.  He had many angry feelings toward people around him but was afraid to express them.  He was quite frightened at his lack of control of the world about him and was surely distraught that his parents could not seem to control themselves.  He devoted much of his own energy toward rigid self-control.  He worried that if he did not control his feelings, there would be dire consequences.”

The Dr. then sends Christopher and his Mom to counseling.  As I said the Father is dead.  The step-father, an alcoholic, doesn’t need counseling?  The Dr. gives the kid some drugs because the Mother is so angry about being kept up all night.  There’s nothing about divorce in this one, I don’t know why I tagged it.  I guess to just study about how the step-parenting thing isn’t discussed.  This is between the subset relationship within Christopher’s family, him and his Mom.

The next mention of the Big D is on p. 196-7 in a Chapter called “Headbanging, Body Rocking, and Head Rolling.

Kind of interesting that kids generally start headbanging around Age18 months.  That’s right before the first Mars Return. Mars rules the head.  And banging.  If a child stops doing this around Age 3 or 4 there’s nothing to worry about. The second Mars Return occurs right before Age 4.  Kids do these “rhythmic behaviors.”  Those ages are under the influence of Jupiter and Jupiter rules abstract thought.  Maybe there’s a connection between giving one’s self a concussion and being capable of abstract thought?  Weird.  Teething begins around the same time as headbanging and rocking so the kid might just be in physical pain or discomfort.  Interesting.

There’s discussion about an 8-year-old girl named Jessica who began Head Thumping after her parents’ divorce.  She would lie on her stomach and thump her head on the bed repeatedly.

“She was afraid she might cause her mother more unhappiness, and , if this happened, she would suffer even more loss of love.  It was clear that the recurrence of Jessica’s headbanging was in response to her current emotional struggles.”

Yeah, she just want to feel the pain on a physical level.  But, I wonder if Jessica is one of the Adult Children of Divorce who has gone on to become twice as likely as Children from Intact Families to suffer a stroke later on in adult life.  The Dr. says to ignore it and let the child outgrow it.  He says that concussions don’t happen from this.  This was written in 1985, so maybe things have changed.



“Blue Valentine”

Saw the movie Blue Valentine this week-end, a movie about a married couple whose relationship is falling apart.  They have one daughter.  The story is about the struggle to stay together together, the shock of not being able to make it work.  There is one child, a daughter.  The movie unfolds in a series of flashbacks which shows both why the relationship came together and why it fell apart. The deciding scene takes place in a creepy motel room called “The Future Room” in which one can see that there is no future here.  The acting, by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, is really incredible.

I don’t think I’m going to say more, except to say that the husband is from a divorce background.  One can see his Child of D personality as he is abnormally sensitive to other peoples’ feelings but also can’t put his life in forward gear.  This is dragging his wife down.  Gosling’s characters’ Mother left the family when he was 10 and was never seen again.  He didn’t finish college and and has worked in low paying jobs his whole life, maintaining a light hearted personality while dragging his life down with obsessive smoking and drinking.  He has no ambition to do anything in his life, and has no connections with the past.  He is portrayed in all kinds of mercurial relationships with home and house.  First he works as a mover, unpacking an old man’s belongings in the old folks home with uncharacteristic care.  Then he works as a house painter, delighting in seeing other people so happy with the improvements he can make in their homes.  Meanwhile, his own inability to find his own passion for living is what destroys his family.

Michelle Williams’ character is surrounded by family, although not necessarily a happy harmonious family.  I couldn’t tell if her parents were divorced.  She is mostly connected with her grandmother.  Williams’ character works as a nurse.   Gosling’s character met her just at the moment when she became pregnant from a bad boyfriend and rushed in to making a family with her.

Kind of interesting how in the final scene I felt a tinge of relief as they moved on, even though it was pretty clear that Gosling’s character was probably going to just get worse.   Of course, the last scene shows the daughter being ripped from her father, and, quickly recovering.

Maybe someday there will be a realistic movie about how she deals with her Mother’s second marriage.

No.  Wait.  Here we go:     Brady Bunch Theme Song.

Here’s a review.

Imdb



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).

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_107917.html

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.



When Parents Meet Their New Loves Over the Internet
December 13, 2010, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Alcoholism, Death of a Parent, Murder, Parents and their Dates, Violence

Guess there’s an extra special problem when one’s parent meets a new relationship online.  Lately the news is carrying some pretty ugly stories.  The most publicized so far has been the story of Zahra Baker, the 10 year old Cancer survivor who was reported missing by her Father and Step-Mother.  Zahra’s Father met Zahra’s Mother online.  They met and married.  I’ve written the details in a previous posts.  I don’t think that either Step-Mother or Father has been charged with murder yet.

Then there’s another problem.  Something which I’m sure that parents will be more concerned about if not for the safety of their children than for the fact that they don’t want their children stealing their boyfriends and girlfriends.  This is a story which was written about in the novel Mildred Pierce where Mildred’s daughter steals her husband.  I don’t think in those days that child molestation was ever considered.  The daughter was a spoiled brat which fits right in with the Children of Divorce imagery from the Intact Family’s point of view.

The news now carries a story about Brittany Mae Smith, a 12-year old girl who went missing after her Mother, Tina’s, body was found in their home.  Brittany and the Mother’s live in boyfriend, Jeffrey Scott, were identified all the way across country from where they had lived.  There are no details about whether Brittany was abducted or went willingly.  And there is discussion about how Jeffrey Scott is a Child Molester who could have used Brittany’s Mother to get to Brittany.  The Mother met her boyfriend online over the Summer and he had moved in with the women last October.  Article discussing the case here along with some nice warnings to parents to be a little more careful. At least the warnings aren’t coming from me.  They certainly won’t be coming from the parent’s shrinks.

Wow, single parents are better off meeting their lovers in bars than over the internet.  Things change, yet things still manage to stay the same.



Exemplary Children of Divorce – Rick Moody

Interesting NPR radio show (http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201009021000)  that I again heard only a portion of while driving in the car.  Writer Rick Moody is promoting his new book and discusses his other books.  The Ice Storm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ice_Storm_%28film%29) was made into a movie so there was a humorous chat about that.  He says that he wrote the book in response to the “Rabbit” series of books written by John Cheever.  I haven’t read the books myself because I read a couple of short stories by Cheever and I didn’t like his tone.  He comes across as the over-privileged, superiority-complex-ed White Guy standing in the room at parties very smug in his attitudes about everyone else, and especially the daughters.

And it’s interesting that Moody says that The Ice Storm is written as a sort of kids’ revenge story on the parents because they reflect that awful 1960s and 70s disregard that parents had for their children.  That’s exactly what I remembered from the stories.  Growing up,  I know that most kids were afraid of their parents.  Certainly these are the parents who created the Divorce Boom.  This was the beginning of the great experiments in relationships.  Families got thrown in as an afterthought and I think that new families moving into the divorce and step-family thing sort of think these were happy times.

So, I had to look up The Ice Storm.  As usual, haven’t read it.  I saw the movie and I do remember being stressed out by it, but all I can really remember is the theater I saw it in.  No offense to Rick Moody.  I sort of stop reading novels after my Father died for some reason.  I really enjoyed listening to the NPR show today and highly recommend it.

So, of course, I was curious to see if Rick Moody is a Child of Divorce.  Found this in an interview on a blog about him (The Black Veil which is referred to is a memoir that Moody wrote – a reviewer called him something like the worst writer alive, probably just got offended because he said that the divorce hurt him):

Moody’s biography can seem a little conventional. Born in 1961, he lived in a scatter plot of Connecticut towns until, at 15, he headed off to boarding school. Amid this, Moody’s parents divorced — ”We were the first in the neighborhood to achieve that milestone,” he would write in The Black Veil — and his problems began in earnest.

Those problems included marijuana, hash, quaaludes, PCP, LSD, cocaine, speed and heroin, in addition to copious amounts of alcohol and “bad jags of promiscuity” (The Black Veil, again). Moody still managed to get into Brown University (he studied with John Hawkes and Angela Carter) and to get closer to his dream of becoming a writer (he attempted his first novel at 11). He earned an M.F.A. from Columbia University and got a job at a prestigious New York publisher, but his life, physically and emotionally, was no longer on a sustainable track.



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.