Spoiled Children of Divorce

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.

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.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Raymond Chandler

One of the great old time masters of detective mystery writing, Raymond Chandler, was a Child of D.  Chandler’s Mother was an Irish Immigrant.  His Father was a civil engineer who was alcoholic.  The family moved around quite a bit because the father worked for the railroad.  Dad was absent a great deal of the time and eventually abandoned the family.  Chandler was raised by his Mother.  His uncle supported the pair financially.

I’m not sure when the divorce actually occurred.  Chandler’s Mother took him to Europe for awhile when he was around 11 or 12. Supposedly they took a boat in June, 1900.  Chandler was going through his Jupiter Return at that time.

Since I’ve found multiple examples of kids who go through their parents’ split during or around the time of their Jupiter Return who tend to become successful in Jupiterian Professions like Law, Publishing, Higher Education, Religion, etc. I’m pretty excited to find this prominence in Chandler’s chart.  I’m finding a lot of published writers whose parents split apart during this Return phase at any rate.

Success doesn’t guarantee happiness, of course.  Chandler suffered his own struggle with alcoholism just like his Father.  His Jupiter was in Scorpio (murder, crime, the dark side, detective work) opposing Neptune (escapism, addiction).  The Wikipedia biography on Chandler is really interesting.  He married a woman who was 18 years his senior (Venus c. Saturn-Sun-NN) and it seems that when she died he became despondent and tried to commit suicide.  It sounds like he suffered from serious depression his whole life.

The Boys Are Back
October 23, 2009, 8:25 am
Filed under: Abandonment, Alcoholism, Birth Order, Movies About Growing Up in Divorce

The Boys are Back is an Australian movie about a man whose second wife dies leaving him with his 6-year old son to raise alone while in the middle of grieving.  The entire vibe of the household changes as the single Father sets up house the way he thinks is fitting.  And then into this commotion his English first wife sends their son over to visit.  The Father hasn’t seen this son in 8 years (I might have the years wrong).

The marquee outside the movie theater said this is based on a real story which is believable because, although in the end all problems seem to have been solved (which is unlikely because no Father who is that good looking is going to be single for such a long time) the relationships and the way the emotions come out really does seem genuine.  The feelings of the children is explored.  This isn’t just another film about an American parent who has to think of some way to make his child useful to his life.  The older son from the divorced older family is clearly left out of the picture, feels like the oddball out for a very long time in the story and the Father confronts these feelings.  He confronts his absentee Fathering.  There’s no denial.  The Father takes an active role as a parent rather than letting the relationship slide.  So I guess it really is make-believe because that just doesn’t happen in real life.

Although death and divorce are talked about in one breath together in real life they are really so much different, especially for the kids.  Death brings finality. The grief involved has to do with coming to terms with complete loss.  Divorce brings complete loss of secure family (which can’t be discussed), feelings of failure, guilt, trying to fix things, false hopes, maybe relief (although the only people I’ve ever heard say this were shrinks), and just general dis-ease and awkwardness that one has to get used to.

Anyway, this is probably the only movie that I remember being able to relate to on an emotional level.  Maybe that’s because I’ve experienced both Divorce and Death of parents.  At any rate, it will make you laugh.  It will make you cry.  And it will make you wish you could live in the Grandmother’s house which is so cool.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – E.O. Wilson

In 1937, his parents divorced and he was passed from relative to relative before being returned to his alcoholic father, experiences that profoundly shaped his life. ‘A nomadic existence made Nature my companion of choice, because the outdoors was the one part of my world I perceived to hold rock steady. Animals and plants I could count on; human relationships were more difficult.’


Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson whose parents divorced when he was 7 years old found a creative outlet for his expression through the life style brought on by his parents’ divorce.  The year of the divorce he was blinded in one eye during a fishing accident.  The eyesight in his other eye began to lose vision and he began to lose the ability to hear in the upper registers, so lost the ability to hear bird songs.

Because he obviously is incredibly adaptable (and adaptable) he continued his love of the observation of nature by focusing on the study of insects later on in college.  They were small and could be observed close up.

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Celebrities Named “Tom”
June 4, 2009, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Abandonment, Alcoholism

In my late 20s when I was dating around in desperation, looking for the perfect guy, I remember coming to the conclusion that you can’t go wrong with a guy named “Tom.”  I don’t know why that is.  The ones I met just seemed to be so much more nicer than the guys I dated, the Johns, the Harry’s, the I don’t even remember that guy’s name guy.  I would look in distant admiration at parties at the girl’s who dated the guys named Tom.  Their futures just seemed secure already.  Is there some kind of subliminal indicator in a name that suggests “In Tom We Trust?”

I’m trying to avoid talking about celebrities too much here in the Exemplaries Section because Success in Entertainment seems to be an unrealistic ambition for most of us to pursue.  Hollywood is full of Children of D.  Entertainment is probably the most realistic ambition for children of D since they can focus on Career over Family at an early age.  And it provides an escape and a creative outlet. Even so, I can’t help myself.  These Toms, they are an exemplary set of guys.

I was utterly delighted to find that the 3 Toms I could immediately think of are all Children of D.

What set off this little fantasy memory is the review I read last week-end about a biography of the singer/musician Tom Waits (sorry, can’t remember which newspaper).  Tom Waits doesn’t really seem like the ideal date guy, I sort of attribute his stability to his wife who must be an angel, but he apparently has an extremely long marriage to one person who he attributes much of his sobriety and even his success to.

According to the review (which I can’t link to, sorry, but look at Wikipedia and google around for his book) Tom Waits’ Father left his family in 1960 when Waits was 10 years old.  His Father was music loving and stayed up all night and was alcoholic.  Waits’ entire career is based on projecting this persona.  Wonder if he would have become a success if his Father had remained at home.  In many cases a kid is probably saved by Divorce from too much exposure to the “Fun” parent.

After the Divorce, Waits lived with his Mother in Southern California.  The family first lived in Whittier (Los Angeles county) and then moved South to National City in San Diego County.  I don’t know what National City is like now but in the 60s it was basically a town full of Tom Waits look-a-likes.  It wasn’t really a garden spot where you would want to raise your kids.  Waits dropped out of high school and began his musical career.

Waits has been married to his wife Kathleen, since 1980.  They have 3 Children.

Check out the lyrics from his song “Children’s Story” from the album Orphans:  Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards. It’s a riot.  Actually it reminds me of an old Irish song my Mother used to sing to me during my asthma attacks that went something like “Oh, I never had a Mommy.  No one to rock me to sleep.  I never had a Mommy….” can’t remember the rest of lyrics, no wonder.

Next Tom I looked at was actor Tom Hanks.  Hanks’ parents also divorced in 1960.  Hanks would have been around Age 4 or 5.  Hanks and his 2 oldest siblings lived with their Father, an electrical engineer.  Hanks’ youngest brother lived with their Mother.  Both parents remarried.  Hanks Father remarried twice after that so Hanks lived with 2 step-mothers.  On the Wikipedia site he says that everyone liked each other.  He also mentions something to the effect that he didn’t feel like he belonged.  Tom Hanks is married to his second wife, Rita, and has 4 children, a daughter and son from his first marriage and 2 sons from his second marriage.

Next Tom I looked at was Tom Cruise.  Cruise’s Mother left his Father when Cruise was 12 years old.  Cruise and his sister lived with their Mother in poverty until his Mother remarried.  Cruise has a bad relationship with his Father who he says was abusive.  It seems that his relationship with his Step-Father is positive as Cruise took his step-father’s name.  Tom Cruise is on his 3d marriage and has 3 children, 2 with actress Nicole Kidman and 1 with current wife Katie Holmes.

Of these 3, I think that Tom Waits was the only High School Drop Out.  I think that none graduated from College, as much because they were following careers rather than failing at something.

As regards Religious preference, Tom Cruise is a follower of Scientology.  Tom Hanks followed several Religious affiliations through his childhood and became a Roman Catholic when he married his wife Rita.  Tom Waits on his religious upbringing:

“What was it like growing up? Did you have a strict religious background? TW: “Yeah. Had to go to church every Sunday. Wore a tie that cut off the circulation to my head. Then I discovered donuts, cigarettes and coffee when I was fourteen, and that was it for church. My mom said, “Don’t forget that there’s nothing the devil hates more than a singing Christian.” (Source: “What Do You Say To Tom Waits?” The Village Noize, by Bill Dolan. Date: Issue 14, 1993)

Bad Children of Divorce – Stephen Green, Rapist-Murderer-Soldier

Today there is news that an ex soldier in Iraq has been found guilty of having Murdered a family in order to rape the 14 year old daughter.  The ex-soldier is Stephen Green from Texas.  He and a group of other soldiers had planned the rape.  Green’s murders apparently came as a surprise.  They were stationed in a particularly troublesome spot in the war zone known as The Triangle of Death.  A Washington Post article by Andrew Tilgman tells about his meeting with Green and his group.  It’s called “I came over here because I wanted to kill people.”  Apparently, the reporter didn’t pay attention to Green’s words because he had heard this sort of brute honesty from all the soldiers.  The article alluded to a troublesome childhood so grudgingly I looked to see if Green was a Child of D.  Despite his minor offenses with the law and an angry personality Green was allowed into the military during a time when enlistments were down.

I’ve sort of been watching all this attention on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder regarding the Iraq War and have wondered if the problem is just now receiving attention or if all the Children of D are enlisting in order to get away from stressful situations and then are buckling under the extra stresses of war.

Green was born on May 2, 1985.  Spent early years in Midland, TX.  Parents divorced but don’t know what age.  Green moved to Seabrook Texas with his Mother.  She remarried when he was around 8 years old.  Reports say that Green had a troubled, angry personality from about Junior High School years onward.  His Mother is said to have “had problems” and was jailed for 6 months in 2000 and he went to live with his Father back in Midland.  He dropped out in 2002 while in the 10th Grade but managed to get his equivalency degree in 2003 from a Community College.  Green was in trouble with the law for minor offenses of smoking, pot, alcohol consumption.  It was noted on the records that he must have had trouble at home because he didn’t list either parent as a contact.  Green lived with his estranged step-father for a while at some point.

Source from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/14/us/14private.html

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Edgar Allen Poe

“Once upon a midnight dreary”

was written by a Child of D.  I suppose it makes sense…

Last week’s New Yorker magazine published an article about Poe’s life called “The Humbug” written by Jill Lepore.


Edgar Allen Poe was born to an actress.  A year after he was born his Father left.  Two years after Poe was born his Mother died.  Poe and his siblings were separated and Poe was raised by a wealthy merchant and his wife.  He was never adopted by these people.  It seems that wild swings in financial fortunes and power plays dominated the household of Poe’s childhood and  Poe was out on his own by the time he was 17. 

He also had drinking and gambling problems from very early on. Financially strapped, Poe joined the military for a while and then attended West Point.  He wrote for money. It seems he moved around a lot.  His love life seems equally difficult.  The women in his life seemed to have suffered illnesses and to have passed away.  At age 27 Poe married his 13 year old cousin.  The marriage lasted about 12 years before Virginia, his wife, died of tuberculosis.  Poe died at Age 40.

Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Allan_Poe