Spoiled Children of Divorce


Mr. Rogers Versus Mandated Reporters

Mr. Rogers had a way of talking with little kids that comforted the parents. In Divorce this is essential for the health of the child. Parents of Divorce Children are very busy and preoccupied. They are doing the best they can, but it is essential that they talk with their children about the divorce and about their own behaviors while trying to encourage the child to speak about his/her feelings and observations.

While working around some children I couldn’t help but notice that they will start talking about their parents and the divorce almost immediately if given a chance. It sounded like a cry for help to me. But, I didn’t feel I had the right to get involved. Children want an adult to discuss this stuff with. In one case I happened to tell someone who was a mandated reporter about one of the children. I wasn’t aware of the mandated reporter thing. Without any discussion, the child was removed from the problem parents’ custody within a day or two. I don’t know whether this was already in the works and that I had nothing to do with any of it, but the child stopped talking to me. The child was also crying a lot and the custodial parent became fairly grumpy. It’s surprising to me that most children of divorce will openly discuss what is going on at home and, although they speak about it in simple terms, they sound very stressed out. I guess most adults will hear a child say “My Mother is sick. I don’t see my Father very much. My parents are getting a divorce” and still not understand that an adult going through 3 such stressors would be drinking, yelling, calling in sick to work, going to the shrink, medicating, and who knows what else. For some reason, when a child says this most people ignore it. Maybe they tell the child to hang tight while their parents get their act together. This, of course, can take five years.

That is why I recommend that parents watch Mr. Rogers’ episodes on dealing with divorce. His understanding is kind of stupid. He makes a big point out of assuring the child that he/she is not to blame for the parents’ split. That applies to only a percentage of children, not all. In some cases a parent leaves because he/she can’t handle children, or they can’t handle having children with the ex so they vanish from the life. And the child knows it. And internalizes it because it is taboo to talk about and nobody can do anything to help. It’s amazing how the Blame Thing is the only element that gets through to adults. Obviously it’s a projection which arises from the Divorce because Blame is a huge fighting factor in the courts. It spills over on to the kids either directly or indirectly through observation.

At any rate, it’s best for a parent to talk with one’s children directly unless one wants one’s children discussing their problems with Social Workers. If the parent tell their kids that they are not to blame one can expect that a step-parent will come along who will.

In the end, let’s face it. Things go on behind divorced walls that aren’t good parenting. When the child goes to school they compare themselves to the other kids who are living much simpler lives. Okay, so that’s another stressor in addition to switching parents/home twice a week, having to talk about friends and school twice, having to monitor parents’ feelings about what happened while with the other parent…

Okay, okay, so there is stuff that Mr. Rogers doesn’t talk about…Kids going through divorce need extra parenting, not less. Instead, they get extra parents, which can often lead to even more stress. Would be great if schools would allow a child to talk with an interested third party without fear of mandated reporting.



Exemplary Children of Divorce – Mark Manson

Here’s an except blogger Mark Manson wrote about his parents’ divorce in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Completely different from my own experience. Manson writes a blog giving dating advice and has published an article called “It’s not our parents’ fault” which doesn’t discuss Divorce at all.

from pp. 52-55

“And just when I had finally cleaned up my act and turned in my assignments and learned the value of good clerical responsibility, my parents decided to get divorced.

“I tell you all of this only to point out that my adolescence sucked donkey balls. I lost all of my friends, my community, my legal rights, and my family within the span of about nine months. My Therapist in my twenties would later call this ‘some real traumatic shit,’ and I would spend the next decade-and- change working on unraveling it and becoming less of a self-absorbed, entitled little prick.

“The problem with my home life back then was not all of the horrible things that were said or done; rather, it was all of the horrible things that needed to be said and done but weren’t. My family stonewalls the way Warren Buffet makes money or Janna Jameson fucks: we’re champions at it. The house could have been burning down around us and it would have been met with, ‘Oh no, everything’s fine. A tad warm in here, perhaps–but really, everything’s fine.’

“When my parents got divorced, there were no broken dishes, no slammed doors, no screaming arguments about who fucked whom. Once they had reassured my brother and me that it wasn’t our fault, we had a Q&A session — yes you read that right — about the logistics of the new living arrangement. Not a tear was shed. Not a voice was raised. The closest peek my brother and I got into our parents’ unraveling emotional lives was hearing, ‘Nobody cheated on anybody.’ Oh, that’s nice. It was a tad warm in the room, but really, everything was fine.

….

“When ‘real traumatic shit’ like this happens in our lives, we begin to unconsciously feel as though we have problems that we’re incapable of ever solving. And this assume inability to solve our problems causes us to feel miserable and helpless.

“But it also causes something else to happen. If we have problems that are unsolvable, our unconscious figures that we’re either uniquely special or uniquely defective in some way. That we’re somehow unlike everyone else and that the rules must be different for us.

“Put simply: we become entitled.

“The pain from my adolescence led me down a road of entitlement that lasted through much of my early adulthood.

….

“My trauma had revolved around intimacy and acceptance, so I felt a constant need to overcompensate, to proe to myself that I was loved and accepted at all times. And as a result, I soon took to chasing women the same way a cocaine addict takes to a snowman made out of cocaine: I made sweet love to it, and then promptly suffocated myself in it.

“I became a player–an immature, selfish, albeit sometimes charming player. And I strung up a long series of superficial and unhealthy relationships for the better part of a decade.

“I was often unemployed, living on friends’ couches or with my mom, drinking way more than I should have been, alienating a number of friends–and when I did meet a woman I really like, my self-absorption quickly torpedoed everything.



Estate Planning Help for Families of Divorce

Lawyers just do as they are told. If a ten times divorced rich guy shows up at the office and wants to leave all his money to his 3d wife and her hamster, the lawyer will write up the will that way. Rich people tend to love money and power, maybe just money. Often they don’t like their kids as much. Some people are just in denial that they’ll ever die. And, of course, there are hundreds of other stories about why children of divorce don’t receive an inheritance. Love is generally not equated with Loyalty in Divorced families the way it is in intact families.

After a divorced parent dies the grieving process for a Child of Divorce will also be different. A Will is a parent’s last words to his/her child. If there are no possessions or money this won’t be an issue. But, if no inheritance, no love, point blank. So the grieving process will bring up all the old crap from the divorce days/years/decades along with the current grieving process for a parent. Divorce is War. This is one of the many fall-outs from War usually decades after the War. Therapists don’t give a rats ass about the whole process because most therapists are 1) from intact families and 2) divorced themselves and so defensive that they will not worry themselves over this.

So, here is a start. The reviews are mixed and don’t really give much information about whether these books really are friendly to the kids. Different States have different rules and I don’t know if the books cover this. That’s why my Father maintained residency in Washington rather than California even though he had homes in both and had lived in Washington only a few years and had died in California. He wrote his will in Washington and it could have been contested in California.

Estate Planning for the Blended Family by L. Paul Hood Jr. and Emily Bouchard. (2012)

and

Estate Planning for Blended Families by Richard E. Barnes (NOLO Press, 2009)



4 Horsemen of Divorced Parents?

Here’s an interesting article from IFLScience! called “4 Behaviors Are the Most Reliable Predictors of Divorce.” These behaviors might describe personalities of your parents if they are divorced.

http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/4-behaviors-are-the-most-reliable-predictors-of-divorce/

The article describes the qualities are Contempt, Criticism, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling as most reliable indicators that a couple will divorce. People probably parent in a different way than they relate to a significant other so this might not indicate parenting style. But it does mean that a child from a divorce is most likely exposed to this style of relating to others themselves. So, if you find yourself feeling like a doormat, cutting people off in the middle of a conversation, feeling that your partner is a jerk in general, now you know where this comes from and that you yourself may soon divorce.

The Study was conducted by the Gottman Institute and a UC Berkeley professor, Robert Levenson, over a 14 year time span in the Midwest. Links are in the article.



Psychopathic Parents

There are no articles for children on learning how to tell if their parents are psychopaths, but most Children of Divorce know that if their parents get divorced they will inevitably hear one or both parents say that the other parent is a psychopath.  That’s just part of the Divorce Party Chit Chat.  And, of course, one doesn’t need coaching from one’s parents to understand that one’s Stepparents are psychopaths…  And, to be honest, it’s really frightening to be told that you are just like the psychopath….

Anyhoo, another great article from Huffington Post written for spouses to understand exactly what are the DSM qualification for Psychopathology.

I forgot already what the qualities of being a sociopath are.  I think there was something about how they appear normal but have Grandiose attitudes and were bullies as children. They appear normal…..  oh man, it gets so complicated.  And they sound a lot like Bipolar Disorder back in the day when Bipolar Disorder sounded like Bipolar Disorder.

A spouse will be very concerned if he or she suspects that his or her spouse has anti-social tendencies.  Of course the spouse will file for Divorce.  Usually, this has no effect on whether or not the child will go hang out with that spouse for week-ends, or even a month over the Summer.  Or maybe it will.  Maybe the child can no longer visit the ousted parent. I bet psychopaths are better in that regard.  Since they don’t care about anything they will be more likely to not continue with a 10 year custody battle.  Or maybe not.

There’s no advice for children on how to survive those fun week-end visits with Mom or Dad who made everything possible because she or he was a psychopath.  Psychopaths are fun and charming and everyone likes them and generally they are not bossy or aggressive.

So I thought up some questions for 20 years down the line when Canadian Researchers fund some programs to look into this because we all know that Americans couldn’t care less:

How do you get over the low self-esteem which comes from being told that one of your parents is a psychopath?  What are the chances that you can rise above your genetics?  According to the geneticists there is only one physical illness which is determined 100 percent by one’s genetics (it’s the one that Woody Guthrie died from, forget the name).  But, to hear a psychologist talk, mental illness is not as flexible and genetics are the driving force behind all that ails mankind.

How do you find the information about how to not act like a psychopath?  After all, the psychopath doesn’t care that he/she is a psychopath so probably isn’t going to steer you in any sort of direction otherwise.  And, obviously, the parent who claims to be the normal one jumped right into a stupid relationship with the psychopath and will probably do so over and over again so has issues of his/her own.

How do you begin to enjoy the company of Normal people who are so boring, after all?

Should you avoid the psychopathic parent?  Should you hate the psychopathic parent?  How is it possible to love the psychopathic parent?  Do you feel lucky if you don’t look or act like the psychopathic parent?  Do you feel scornful of and superior to your siblings who do?

Should you ask your friends to tell you when you’re acting like a psychopath?  Or will they stop being your friends if they think you or your siblings or your parent is a psychopath?

Should you warn your teachers that you are genetically inclined towards psychopathic behaviors and to keep all sharp objects out of reach of your mean little hands?

What are the statistics that your parents won’t jump right into another marriage right away with a psychopath?  This is cause for great anxiety for a child.

If your psychopathic parent is an addict then will he/she stop being a psychopath in the unlikely events that he/she sobers up?  Or is the addiction just an excuse to hide behind?

How do you deal with being blamed for everything that goes wrong in your psychopath parents’ life?  Or the normal parents’ life for that matter.   Of course, step-parents will blame you for anything and everything because they didn’t marry you, they married your parent and you just came along so shut up and be grateful.

How do you know if only one of your parents is a psychopath?  Maybe the normal parent is actually the true psychopath?

What does it do to your personality and character to have to wonder about this crap over and over again when really you should just be doing chores, doing homework and out playing with your friends and not hiding from parents and worrying about money?

Would you rather have a rich psychopathic parent or a poor, exhausted but normal parent?  Divorced parents don’t really have much time for their kids either way so maybe it doesn’t really matter at all.  Parents have their own lives to live.  They both say they love you more than anything else in the world, isn’t that enough?

Why isn’t anyone protecting you from this shit?



California’s Dirty Little Secret?

Answers.com has an answer for everything, even for the California divorce rate.

((((((((((((68-83 percent from 1990 to 2008)))))))))))))

from Statistical Information and Demographics.



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.