Spoiled Children of Divorce


Exemplary Children of Divorce – Mishna Wolff

Mishna Wolff is a writer of a humorous memoir called I’m Down about growing up white in an all black neighborhood. Chapter One describes her parents’ divorce when she was seven. Wolff was surprised to learn that she would continue to live with her Father while seeing her Mother on the week-ends. At the time she is not surprised by her parents’ decision to divorce because she has always felt they were “mismatched.” She is surprised to find that she won’t attend the custody hearing so that everyone would want to hear her preferences. Surprise, Surprise.

Mishna was the oldest of two daughters. Her Father paid her an allowance to look after her little sister. She takes on this responsibility with a light hearted attitude.

Sorry, that’s the only chapter I’ve read so far. Just get so excited when I see anyone giving any opinions at all about their divorce experience couldn’t wait.



Exemplary Children of Divorce – Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler is a 20th Century detective novel writer written in a “hard-boiled style.” Some of the titles were The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, and The Long Good-Bye. One might expect that a writer would discuss his childhood a bit but in the book Raymond Chandler Speaking (Gardner and Walker, p.20) he gives two liners to each parent.

His father: “My father was a graduate of Penn, a civil engineer. Divorced when I was seven…Never saw my father again.”

His Mother: “My Mother soon after returned to England to live with her mother and manage the house, and of course I went with her.”

Chandler grew up in Chicago until he was 7 years old. His Father worked for the railroads and was drunk most of the time. Chandler wrote that he was “found drunk if he was found at all.” (Hiney, Tom. Raymond Chandler: A Biography, p. 4).

Chandler’s Mother was born in Ireland and they moved to Ireland to live with family after his Father disappeared for the last time. They had lost their house and were living in a hotel where the boy caught Scarlett Fever. Chandler’s Mother never talked about his Father again.

Chandler said that he had wished his Mother had remarried in London. “I know that my mother had affairs — she wa a very beautiful woman– and the only thing that I felt to be wrong was that she refused to marry again for fear a step-father would not treat me kindly, since my father was such a swine.” (Honey, Tom. Raymond Chandler: A Biography, p. 10)

Chandler had generous relatives and grew up in Britain. He and his Mother returned to the United States. He worked at several professions, getting fired for drinking himself. He didn’t write his first story until 1933 at Age 45. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published when he was 51.

Chandler fell in love with the step-mother of a friend who was 18 years his senior. His Mother forbade the relationship so Chandler didn’t marry Cissy until after her death. When his wife died in 1954 Chandler attempted suicide.

Chandler died in 1959 of pneumonia which was brought on by alcoholism.



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 – Meghan Markel

American Actress, Meghan Markel is engaged to marry Prince Harry of England in May. Both are Children of Divorce. Meghan was six years old when her parents split. Harry was eleven when his parents split and twelve when his Mother died.

Marriage can be a complicated event for Children of Divorce. All events are more complicated because there are so many more people to think about. Meghan’s Father lives in Mexico and will walk her down the aisle. Meghan didn’t invite many members of her Mother’s extended family. Some gave some really insulting interviews right after the announcement. Yahoo article here.



Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan
In her recently released book Brain on Fire, Susannah Callahan describes her battle with a rarely diagnosed autoimmune illness which attacked her brain.  I heard an interview with her on NPR’s radio program Fresh Air.
Callahan became very sick very quickly in February 2009 when she was 24 years old.  At first she figured she was suffering from the stress of her new job as a reporter at The New York Post but as her symptoms became worse she went through diagnosis after diagnosis and eventually chewed up 1 million dollars worth of scans and tests. A doctor could correctly figure out her illness by the simple test of  having her draw a picture of the face of a clock.
Calahan had been living with a boyfriend for 6 months.  Her parents were divorced and she had become estranged from her father after the divorce.  Both parents sound like they were great caretakers and cooperated with each other throughout the long month when Susannah was in the hospital.  Much of this time she doesn’t remember.
Callahan also describes how her relationships changed throughout her illness.  I suspect that this is probably more important for Children of Divorce because we often can’t expect our parents to help because they don’t have the support of a family unit, or can’t stand being around the other parent which causes even more stress.  Then again, each case is different and parents are hopefully more savvy now than they used to be.
 Just before her hospitalization Susannah had moved back in with her Mother and her Mother’s husband/boyfriend.  The night before the hospitalization she spent with her Father and his Wife/Girlfriend.  Since both parents had significant others for support this might actually be an improved circumstance as there were 4 adults doing the caretaking.  (Also, sorry, but I seem to have forgotten the exact relationship that the parents had with their significant others.)
From a Child of D standpoint there’s an interesting comment about how during this night with Father and Stepmother Susannah hallucinates that her Stepmother is complaining about how spoiled she is.  Since I named this blog after a woman who had said that kids from divorce are disgusting because we are all spoiled I like that little quirk in Cahalan’s mind, in particular.  In the Fresh Air interview Susannah says that she figures that most people at the early part of her illness figured that she was just acting arrogant because she was a spoiled rich kid (didn’t mention divorce).  The interviewees of one her interviews with the Post ended the interview because they thought she was drunk.  The first therapist declared that she simply needed to stop drinking, something which she says she doesn’t normally do.  One can see how many extra prejudices a Child from Divorce has to deal with in trying to get diagnosed with a mental or, in this case, neurological, disorder.  Many divorced parents are probably very quick to have their children institutionalized.  I just remember the coworker of an old friend of mine whose Mother had had him put into a mental hospital so she could go to Medical School.  These things do happen.
Susannah develops a new wonderful bond with her father where previously they had been estranged.  He keeps a detailed diary of her illness which is a great resource for her book.
Cahalan had to write the book about herself from the point of view of a journalist, piecing together what everyone else said had happened because she doesn’t remember much of it.
The astrology is possibly unbelievably interesting.  I don’t have Cahalan’s birth info so this is all probably really stupid to mention.  I’m mentioning it anyway because there is possibly a really incredible connection between planetary cycles which hook the divorce with the illness.  Cahalan keeps describing her illness and recovery in terms of divorce and marriage in many ways and that so hooks into one of the significant planetary cycles that she may have been going through.
Cahalan was 24 during the time of her illness.  This hooks her into 2 possible planetary cycles.
The first would be her second Jupiter Return which occurs roughly Age 23-24.  The first Jupiter Return would have occurred when she was roughly 11-12.  Since Jupiter is connected with publishing and writing and getting lucky it makes sense that this cycle would find her gainly employed at a new stressful job with a newspaper.  Her Jupiter is possibly in Gemini which makes this even more sense as Gemini also rules writing and communication.  Gemini is connected with the nerves in the body so, if this is Susannah’s placement it would show some sort of overwhelming load on her nerves.  Jupiter rules the liver and the hips.  So, it actually is pretty interesting that the initial reactions to her behavior were to assume that she was drunk — the liver is heavily affected by alcohol.
Another cycle which I’m particularly interesting in is the 8-year Sun-Venus Rx cycle.  This is one of the most precise cycles in the planets and was used by the Mayans for measuring time.  The Sun is in conjunction with Venus Retrograde every 8 years.  Within this period there are 5 Sun-Venus Rx conjunctions which occur very close to the same degrees of the Zodiac.
In her book, Susannah says that her parents divorce had occurred 8 years previously which is why I can’t control myself here. Venus, through the sign of Libra, rules Marriage and one on one relationships.
A person whose natal chart is affected in some way by this conjunction would receive a lot of attention from these 2 planets and things that they rule during his/her lifetime.  That can be a very good thing for anything connected with social life or the arts, and can bring issues involving relationships.  Age 16 is considered the Sweet 16 party for girls so is very much connected with the Sun-VenusRx cycle.  (The part where kids start to drive, which is Mars and Mercury is maybe not such a great idea at this age.)
The person would internalize events that occur at this age very strongly and would act out on them through life and would possibly connect with an 8 year cycle through out their lives.
(I did find a birth date for Cahalan that doesn’t have a Sun-Venus Rx conjunction but still receives significant hits and I have no idea if it is a correct date.  My research is saying that divorce possibly will hook kids into these cycles and provide extra information to use for interpretation beyond the natal chart.)
Venus goes Retrograde about once a year and is never farther than 2 signs away from the Sun.  The Retrograde transit is an illusion which is seen from the earth because Venus spins around the Sun and not around the Earth.   Because of the elliptical orbits, Venus appears to stay at a standstill and to move backward in the sky during the Retrograde periods.
And Venus during the 8-year cycles that Susannah Cahalan may be hooked into is in the sign of Aries.  Aries is ruled by Mars and Mars rules the Head and Inflammation in the chart because it is a fiery planet.  It also rules Male energy and is a symbol for the Fighter and Warrior in people.
Venus is said to rule two signs.  She always is said to rule Female Energy.  The first is Taurus which rules the neck and lower part of the head, possibly the brain stem.  The second sign Venus rules is Libra which rules the Kidneys.  Venus is very strongly connected with the 8th cranial nerve because she rules the voice, hearing to some extent, Harmony, and sense of balance.  Venus, of course, is the ruler of marriage and relationships and connected with the Sun (vitality, creativity, ego expression) is very connected with social life.
Mercury and Uranus would also be interesting to look at in Susannah’s chart as they rule the nerves.  Mercury rules nerves themselves and the hands and communication skills.  Uranus rules any circulatory system and in particular the electrical system in a person.  Anything that happens suddenly is ruled by Uranus.
I’m not sure what rules rare diseases or autoimmune disorders.  I suspect that the sign of Libra is connected just because AIDS occurred during a transit of Pluto passing through Libra.  Libra is the female end of relationships which has to learn to set boundaries. Mars is impulsive and sort of thoughtless and reckless and has to learn Venusian traits.
Neptune often indicates an illness which is difficult to diagnose or treat.  Uranus and probably Jupiter generally can rule situations in which truth and enlightenment  come about so I would assume that this planet figures strongly in Susannah’s chart as she was lucky enough to receive a diagnosis and treatment.
Autoimmune encephalitis inflammation of brain
Here are dates of the Venus Rx’s and conjunctions with the Sun on 8 year cycles.  Again, I have no idea if this has anything to do with Cahalan’s chart.  Hopefully she’ll soon write more books and her birth date will be available because I’m dying of curiosity.
1985
  Venus Rx mar. 14, 1985 23 Aries
  Venus sd apr. 25, 1985 7 Aries
  Sun con. Venus Rx apr. 4, 1985. 4 Aries
Parents divorce Age 16?
  Venus Rx mar. 9, 2001. Venus 18 Aries
  Venus sd April, 20, 2001. 2 Aries
  Sun con. Venus Rx. Mar.30, 2001 10 Aries
Illness onset February, 2009, hospital march, 2009  Feb. 17?
  Sun con. Venus Rx march, 28, 2009. 8 Aries
  Venus Rx mar. 7, 2009 16 Aries
  Venus sd April. 18, 2009. 30 Pisces
Imagines stepmother telling father she’s a spoiled brat. Chapter called Buddha
Oldest daughter
Couldn’t remember metropolian museum visit Madame x postcard, Feb 17, 2009


Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  I meant to hunt down some articles but since there usually aren’t any that focus on divorce I let it go.  Did hear part of an interview on the radio.  Barbara Simpson interviews a rich woman on how to raise kids as a divorced parent.  It seemed like good advice.

Just read an article at Salon.com called “How I Met My Mother” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.  The writer talks about how she and her Mother didn’t get along and that she didn’t understand or appreciate her Mother’s screaming until after the birth of her second son.  She says that her parents divorced when she was a child.  I can’t tell what age, it would have been maybe around Age 9 because she says they were married 10 years.  She says she was a difficult child and her Mother was a screamer.  She lived with her Father for a year at some point because of the tension in her relationship with her Mother.  And she is now also a screamer Mother.

Comments are interesting.  Someone said that her Mother was a screamer until the divorce and then was calm.  Another person gave the writer some possibly psychiatric diagnoses for both her and her Mother.  Turns out her Mother had a heart condition which might be a reason for the screaming.  There might be heart medications now that will help.

It’s just interesting to me how people discuss divorce, or don’t discuss it.  They will discuss all other levels of chaos and crises.  It’s like no one has the words to discuss it.  Oh well, on Mother’s Day you don’t really want to rock the boat anyway.



Parents as Sex Traders

When your parents divorce, often your relationship with both of them changes.  Whereas, previously, you may have been closest to your Father, you may become closer to your Mother after the divorce.  Then there are the stories of the child who becomes so difficult and unmanageable under care of one parent, he/she has to change households and has to go live with the other parent.  And then there’s the story which I just saw last night on TV…

Saw a very frightening show last night on Sex Trafficking.  The United States has grown one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Sex Trafficking capital of the World.  Sorry I can’t remember the name of the show, was wanting to link to it.  I think it was on MSNBC.  Am certain I will repeat some inaccurate details here in trying to describe the situation.

A young girl in the Bay Area was repeatedly raped by her Father from the age of 3 onwards.  At the Age of 8 years old her Father began to pimp her in order to make enough money for the family to buy a house.  The parents divorced when she was a teen and at that time the Mother, needing money, began to pimp the girl.

So, there you go, horror stories beyond anything most of us can imagine.  Her parents are immigrants who follow beliefs that daughters can be treated this way.  I grew up with what I think are pretty conservative values for women’s place in the world.  I’ve discussed my own situation, no sexual abuse, so I’m not saying that this happens only in Asian families.  This is a problem for female children overall in dysfunctional families.

The whole time growing up, this girl maintained a straight A average in school and played on her Soccer team.  She was very close to a teacher, I believe her old Soccer coach.  This young woman then managed to get in to UC Berkeley where she began therapy in order to try to make sense out of her life.  I believe she said that she is now around 25 years old and has stopped talking with her parents since she was around 20 years old.  Her strength is incredible.  She is speaking out in order to help others who might be in this same situation.

The parents were interviewed on the show and didn’t admit to anything.