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.  

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.

Barack Obama’s Mother

Here’s a link to a really nice portrait of Barack Obama’s Mother called “Free-spirited wanderer set Obama’s Path” by Janny Scott.  I think the original article is from The New York Times but this link goes to MSNBC:


Exemplary Children – Richard Pryor and his Daughter Rain Pryor

The Comedian Richard Pryor is #1 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 top Stand-Up Comedians of All Time so he certainly belongs on the Exemplary Children list. But, of course, everyone knows that his exceptional gifts did not come without a huge price.

Pryor was raised in his Grandmother’s Brothel. His Mother was a Prostitute and his Father was his Mother’s pimp. Pryor’s Mother abandoned Pryor when he was 10 years old. He was expelled from School when he was 14. He joined the army when he was 18 and he spent most of his enlisted time in the army jail for committing a racially driven attack along with some of his buddies. This is the story on Wikipedia. I don’t how much of it is true and how much is hype. It’s generally accepted that Pryor had serious drug problems and later on he struggled with serious health problems. I personally cannot wear Polyester without worrying about whether or not I’ll blow myself up while free-basing and I don’t even do drugs. At any rate, it sounds like this may have been a fabricated story (no pun intended). It sounds like Pryor tried to commit suicide while in a drug induced psychotic state. He poured booze all over himself and set himself on fire.  The melting polyester complicated the situation. Pryor recently passed from complications due to Multiple Sclerosis.

But, meanwhile, Richard Pryor stood up on stage and opened people up to their problems and helped them to laugh about how difficult life is.

Wikipedia says that Richard Pryor fathered 7 kids. One of them is Rain Pryor.  Rain is the daughter of a Jewish GoGo Dancer on her Mother’s side and African American Stand Up Comic on her Father’s side. She was raised by her Maternal Grandparents who were successful showbiz folks. She talks about being rejected by both sides for being a “Half-breed”.

Rain’s parents divorced shortly after she was born and she didn’t meet her Father until she was 4 years old. Both parents suffered from severe Mental Illness. Rain attempted suicide twice when she was a kid. Since then she seems to have reconciled all the differences she grew up with. She is a succssful performer of her own who toured with her own show Fried Chicken and Latkes about growing up in her family situation and she has written a memoir called Jokes My Father Never Taught Me.  I’ve read only parts of her book.  Her spirit is very positive and inspiring.

Success Story – Barack Obama

Barack Obama, current Senator of Illinois and Presidential Candidate, is a indeed an exemplary Child of Divorce. He’s pretty much exemplary at everything. The New Statesman chose him as one of “10 people who could change the world.” And Time magazine has chosen him twice (2005 & 2007) for their “World’s Most Influential People” list.

Obama shows the intelligence and sensitivity that can come with growing up in a divorced home. I didn’t want to add him to my list of Exemplaries until after I had read his book, but I found a quote on Wikipedia about his attitude towards his screwy family dynamics at the Holidays which I think is really healthy and timely to include now. He seems to revel in the diversity of his extended family. The quote goes: “Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it’s like a little mini-United Nations.” What a perfect training ground for a future political leader!

Obama has written a best-selling memoir, Dreams From My Father, in which he reconciles the struggles he felt as a bi-racial child who never really knew his Father. His parents separated when Barack was 2 years old. Barack’s Father was an economist from Kenya who left the family in Hawaii in order to continue his studies and his parents subsequently divorced. Obama’s Mother remarried and gave birth to Obama’s sister. The family lived in Indonesia for a few years and Obama moved backed to Hawaii to live with his Maternal Grand-parents until he graduated from High School. He attended Columbia University and then went on to Harvard Law School.

Both of Obama’s parents died young as well. His Father was killed in a car accident in Kenya in 1982 when Obama was 21. His Mother passed from Ovarian Cancer in 1995 a few months after the book was published.

Obama has been married to his wife, Michelle, since 1992 and they have two children, Malia Ann and Natasha. If he becomes the President maybe he’ll paint the Columns in front of the White House ebony.

Success Story – Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker is the daughter of the poet Alice Walker & Mel Leventhal, a famous civil rights lawyer. She is a feminist and writer herself and has written about growing up in a mixed race family(ies) and of her parents’ divorce in Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self. Time Magazine has named her one of the 50 Future Leaders of America.

Rebecca’s parents divorced when she was in the 3d grade. She switched back and forth between her parents, 2 years with one then 2 years with the other which meant that not only was she living with 2 separate parental households, but she was living on different coasts in the U.S. every other year, as well as having to living with biracial ethnicity. “Exhausting” is how she now describes bouncing between families of two races and two religions. She went through a drug phase and got pregnant when she was 14. When she was 18 she switched her last name from her Father’s surname to her Mother’s.

She is bisexual and has currently had a baby boy. She is estranged from her Mother. Her most recent book is about her attitudes and experiences with Motherhood.

Here’s a quote and link from a 2001 article about Walker’s book:


Trapped in a destructive cycle, needing to re-invent herself every couple of years (and having had little clue as to who she was in the first place), Rebecca found she belonged simultaneously to two worlds and to none. Not surprisingly, some of the adjustments she made took on a racial twist: Denying part of herself each time she shuffled from city to city, from Jewish to black, from status-quo middle class to radical-artist bohe-mian, she trained herself to keep the code, not to say anything too white when she was with friends from the inner city, not to say anything too black when she was at Jewish summer camp.

But mostly Rebecca Walker’s story, as she tells it, is about raising herself. Her mother bragged in interviews that she and her daughter were like sisters, but as Rebecca points out, “being my mother’s sister doesn’t allow me to be her daughter.” So while Alice Walker was off on speaking engagements, sometimes for days on end, her “sister” Rebecca was choosing her own high school, taking drugs, having sex and generally fending for herself.