Spoiled Children of Divorce


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?



Mother Drives Her Children Into the Hudson River
April 16, 2011, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Abandonment, filicide, Mentally Ill parents, Murder, Suicide, Violence

A 25-year old mother of 4 in New York drove herself and her children into the Hudson River.  Her 10-year old son escaped his Mother’s clutches, but she drowned along with his 3 younger siblings.  According to the surviving son his Mother was expressing regrets as the van she was driving sank into the water and was wishing that she could be saved.  In the article which is linked to it sounds as if the Mother was upset about the relationship with the children’s father.  I’m unclear about her relationship with the Father.  There was a story about how he allowed one of the children to run around in the street naked in the middle of the night.  She had had locks changed on the doors twice in the last 6 months.

There’s an interesting article about how common it is for Mothers to kill their children called “Moms killing kids not nearly as rare as we think.”  The article talks about the role of mental illness in the situation but also the fact that the mothers are simply isolated emotionally and socially.  “So often there is an impending death or divorce or breakup.”  This is a really great article and I thank the person who wrote it.  Since statistics don’t distinguish between Mothers, Fathers and Step-fathers (no mention of Step-Mothers?), an expert is quoted as saying that it is thought that a Mother kills her own child ever 3 days (in the U.S.? I know this is accepted practice in traditional Asian cultures).

The thing is to remember that this Mother was over stressed and that at the last minute she was showing regrets about the choice she had made.

For the first year of my parent’s divorce my Mother tried to commit suicide 3 times and at times she was threatening to kill me as well.  She never actually did try to kill me, but I became anorexic as a way of trying not to have any needs which would upset her. And I have gone through serious suicidal phases ever since. So, I tend to notice when one of these stories hits the news.

The information is often repressed because of society’s needs to think that Mothers never fail in their duties to love their children.  The article explains how often Mothers think that they are doing what’s best for their children by killing them.

I have sort of forgotten the exact reasons why my Mother said that she would have to kill me.  I sometimes think that it was because she knew that I would never be able to trust anyone after having been betrayed by both my Father and my best friend.  But, I think the real reason was financial and just the fact that she didn’t want to be burdened by having a kid around since the marriage was over.  She had been raised by a single woman as her Father had died.  I don’t think in all her rants that she ever discussed how perhaps it would be difficult for me to function after being kept awake all night listening to this stuff.  In the morning she would claim that she didn’t remember a thing (unless it was one of the nights when I lost it and started screaming).

Needless to say I feel so sorry for the young boy and hope that he can find a safe environment to grow up in where he will find love and support.  It sounds like he has great survival skills and hopefully he will be able to trust people.

I hope that this woman’s soul and those of her children will rest in peace.  And I hope that social networks can be formed for single mothers to gain the support and help they need.  There are so many concerns in these cases.  Financial, Legal, Self Esteem, Retraining regarding partnership mistakes, Help with Career, Help with Housework and raising children.  And, of course, lack of time to devote to improving all these areas of life.  I’m pretty certain that women can’t expect other married women to help them.

Mothers who have to take care of their children really need so much help.  In the end the “help” my Mother received were 2 1-week stints in mental hospitals.  She received a diagnosis and some pills and was taught a new career choice which proved adequate income. A Call Girl taught her how to go into a bar and turn tricks on those days when money was coming up a bit short.   Mental Hospitals expose vulnerable people not only to pills that only help to sedate and humiliate them but also to connections with even sicker people who share survival skills are a bit lacking.  I sort of wonder what goes on in the nurses and doctors’ minds.  Don’t they see that this stuff goes on?  Hospitals for mental illness are just as infectious for disease as hospitals for physical illness.



Depressed Fathers Spank Their Babies More
March 16, 2011, 12:14 am
Filed under: Mentally Ill parents, Relationship with Father, Violence

Article which explains that up to 25 percent of new Mothers suffer from Post-Partum Depression and up to about 7 percent of new Fathers suffer from it as well.  A study has found that Depressed Fathers are much more likely to spank their 1-year old babies.  This is a behavior that a one year old isn’t going to understand at all.  I assume that a Mother won’t understand what is going on either.  Violent physical behavior in men was considered “normal” while I was growing up and I really appreciate this kind of research.  But … sure wish they could hook in some questions on parental harmony/discord/divorce and the children.

Am not going to link to it but there was also an article about how spoiled children are more intelligent.  Maybe I’ll quit griping about Children of Divorce are always accused of being spoiled.  I know we are more intelligent, for sure, dude.

http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/14/dads-dark-side-new-fathers-with-depression-spank-their-babies-more/



Biutiful

After I watched the movie Biutiful last night, all 2.45 hours of it, I was not feeling very good.  It’s Spanish movie about a guy who is dying and, all I could really think was that I must have aged out of the European movie market.  I figured I just can’t handle the reality anymore.  Then, this morning I woke up thinking, “O my God, Uxbal is my Father!”

So, why I’m listing this movie on this blog is because Javier Bardem, as always, gives the most amazing performance of a Father who is divorced.  One realizes how much he loves his children and wants to provide for them.  He has custody because the children’s Mother is Bipolar and unreliable. There are two children in the story.  The oldest daughter has her 10th Birthday during the time that the movie takes place.  Her parents do everything they can to make it special for her, but their complicated lives and personal problems turn the celebrations in to one catastrophe after another.

I don’t know who the actress is who plays the wife/ex-wife, but she is brilliant.  Society really has come a long way when one sees that children are not expected to live with their Mother when she is that mentally ill.  My generation; usually the Father couldn’t handle it, and took off, the way mine did.  This character acknowledges that his children will turn out however they will turn out, whether he is around or not in the same way that he and his brother both turned otu, but he also acknowledges the importance of providing for them as a parent.  This centers around his obsession with leaving enough money to keep the rent for their apartment.

But, here, what is so incredible is to see the portrayal of this Father from so many different angles.  He sees his life through his spiritual side, which is strongly related to death and unresolved grief, as both his parents died when he was very young.  He makes a few extra bucks helping newly dead people to pass over.

One sees that he just keeps going, focusing on fixing other people’s problems but perpetually unable to break out of the slums that he is born into.  Finally his body just gives out.  Incredible scene where he goes to the toilet;  looks out the window to see a guy passed out in the street, you can see that he is feeling bad for the guy and meanwhile looks down to see that his urine is full of blood.  He himself has waited too long before going to the Doctor.

Better description than what I can provide here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biutiful



Fresh Air Interview: The Memory Palace

Writer and Artist Mira Bartok is interviewed by Terry Gross on the NPR program Fresh Air about a memoir she has written called The Memory Palace.

I’m assuming that Mira Bartok is a Child of Divorce but the Big D is never mentioned in the interview.  Mira’s relationship with her Father is briefly mentioned to say that he left the family when she was 4 years old and Mira moved with her Sister and her Mother into their Grandparents’ house.  Her Mother, an accompalished pianist, suffered from schizophrenia and her Grandfather seems to also have some sort of mental illness.  Both Mother and Grandfather were violent.  Mira and her Sister have both achieved success in life working in the humanities.

The blurb which drew me to the interview said that Mira began to understand her Mother’s illness better after suffering traumatic brain injury when a Truck hit her when she was 40.  She suffers from memory problems, both short and long term.

The interview with Terry Gross mostly discusses what it must be like to have a mentally ill family member who ends up homeless because their behavior is impossible to treat.  I wish there had been discussion about how it might be different to be the child of a mentally ill parent as I feel that sets up a different relationship dynamic than for a parent to deal with a mentally ill child.  It’s much easier to get a child into treatment than it is for a child because the parent is used to giving the commands rather than receiving them.

At one point Bartok says something like (not an exact quote most likely):

“We (she and her sister) needed to be safe and we needed for someone to keep her safe.”

I think that this is what parenting is all about and I think it is a huge problem for Children of Divorce, whether we want to say it or not.  The parents think that if they assure the child that he’s loved that this is enough.  But, then, the child marries a new partner and does nothing to protect the child from entering into the new relationship at his own emotional speed.  Since Bartok is probably around the same age that I am I know that girls of our generation were rarely considered “safe” when left alone.  Probably this is less so now but I don’t have a clue.

Bartok’s Grandfather died at some point, not sure what age she was at that point.  She placed her Grandmother into an eldercare program in 1989 and her Mother’s situation deteriorated very quickly after that.  By 1990 she was homeless.  There is great discussion here about how and why Bartok couldn’t take care of her Mother and didn’t talk to her for 17 years.  Her Mother lived to be more than 80 years old and the homeless shelter where she had lived for a few years before her death is named after her.

Am really interested to read this book.  Guess I’m jumping the gun by writing about it right now.  Wonder what it must be like to have memory problems and to be trying patch up such a difficult upbringing at the same time.

 



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



Moving On – Tess Damm’s Father

Tess Damm is the Colorado teenager who allowed her boyfriend to murder her Mother.  The teenagers than put the Mother’s body in the car and partied for about a month before neighbors called authorities.  Tess’s Mother was what sounds like a raging alcoholic and her boyfriend, an adopted boy from India, had a split personality.  I talked briefly about Tess Damm a while back and went back to see if I could find any new information about her situation as regards to her parent’s divorce because obviously this was an impossible situation which led to tragedy.

I found an article about Tess’ Father, Michael Damm, who left her Mother, Linda Juergens, when Tess was around 1 1/2 years old.

http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2007/mar/02/damms-father-i-dont-know-those-people/

The Father’s attitude towards his daughter was totally distant.  He said that “he didn’t know those people.”  As is typical in Divorced families the Father can’t handle the stress of maintaining a relationship with the Mother who is totally insane.  And he simply disappears.  I tend to see how this is a practical way to lead one’s life.  Unfortunately, from the child’s point of view this is very destructive.

According to the article, Tess’ parents married on June 29, 1991. Tess was born a month later so obviously she was a “mistake” child.  The Father walked out in September 1992.  He tried to maintain a long distance relationship with his daughter and was given what looks to me like very difficult rules to follow in order to do that.  For example, he had to give 30 days’ notice in order to visit.  Juergens filed for divorce in April, 1999.  That’s a long time to remain separated so I sort of assume that he really was having struggling with trying to maintain connection with his daughter at least.

I wonder if it’s easier if these parents just cut the cord quickly.  The child then doesn’t build up any false hopes and can live with reality much better.   Of course, the best option would have been if he had been given custody since it sounds like he was the more stable parent but who knows?  He may have been as unstable as the Mother.

The Father at the time of the writing is now living in Wisconsin, is remarried and has more children with his current wife.  He talked very coldly about his daughter’s situation which I think is the attitude that a lot of Children of D receive from the missing parent.  The child must suffer the Loss like a Death but also the Rejection of being Unworthy.   The Father said he hadn’t talked to her in 10 years and didn’t intend to reestablish a relationship now.  At any rate, one can see the Father’s coldness being projected into the mind of a daughter who plotted and carried out her own Mother’s death.  He is quoted as saying:

“I have a family, and I’m living and loving life in Wisconsin,” he said.  “I moved out of that situation when (Tess) was about 2.”

He is quoted repeatedly as saying that he has moved on in life.  His Mother, Tess’ Grandmother, was also interviewed as saying that the family had moved on.  Tess really was worth nothing to her family.  Most Children of D don’t kill their parents, but they do share a similar style relationship with one of their parents.

The great philosopher Martin Buber said that the greatest evil in the world comes not from bad deeds but from indifference.