Spoiled Children of Divorce


Heartbreaking Mother/Daughter Talk

Okay, so this is real. You’ll never hear one of the get help people talk about it. But, it’s real. I’ve overheard similar things. I’ve lived similar things.

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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.



Humanitarian Jerry Lewis Disinherits His Kids From His First Marriage

Hey, as long as psychologists ignore the fallout of coming from a divorced family and lawyers make their money off of the arrangements, this is a situation that will never be addressed. Sigh, people who grew up in Divorce are so used to being rejected and ignored and poor this really doesn’t matter (too much). The lawyers only take on cases where they know they will get paid. Lawyers do pro bono for politically correct situations which will further their career.

Second/third/fourth/90th wives and their children are never, ever gracious enough to set things right. Best to blame those kids for the shit their Father dished out. The will is the parent’s last message to his/her children. This type, so common, do dear, is as bad as it gets.

Comedian/Actor Jerry Lewis died in August at age 91. The news says that he was surrounded by family but doesn’t indicate which family. The news always also make a point out of saying that the one child, a grown daughter, from Lewis’ second marriage will inherit everything, even though she’s “only” adopted. That’s really rude and I’m very sorry she has to read that. The first marriage lasted 36 years and the second marriage lasted 34 years.

So here we go. Kids from divorce are disinherited by their parents. Same old, same old. This time it’s a super successful rich guy who is known for his humanitarian work. That’s an extra twist. Don’t know what Divorce rates are of parents of kids with muscular dystrophy but it might be high. Here’s an article about high divorce rates among parents of children with special needs. Hopefully, being from a “first family” has never disqualified any of Jerry’s kids from receiving some of his charitable contributions.

Lewis died of heart disease which is associated with mental illness like depression which can make an old guy even grumpier so I suppose the kids have a lawsuit in there somewhere, especially since their Father made almost all of his money while he was married to their Mother and not the Step-Mother. You would think.

I’m not making much sense here. This kind of thing makes me so angry. But here it is, over and over and over. And the shrinks stay silent……



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)



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.



“May die 2day”

Taboo subject here.  Even more forbidden than trying to seek help about how to deal with abusive step-parents.

This article is about a Mother who couldn’t get food stamps to feed her 2 children.  During an almost 7 hour stand off at the Welfare Office in Laredo, Texas, Rachel Grimmer’s 12-year old daughter posted a few frightening messages on her Facebook account about what she was going through as Mommy waves her gun around in despair.  At one point, she says she’s bored.  Guess perhaps she grew up listening to threatening rants.

At around midnight the Mother shot her two children, the 12 year old daughter and the 10 year old son in the head.  They have survived but are both in critical condition.  Ms. Grimmer then shot and killed herself.  I guess the welfare office supervisor wasn’t harmed.

Obviously, the Social Worker could have used some training.  He’s obviously telling lies all over the place about what was done to help.  And there are obviously some racial issues going on here.

The kid in this situation doesn’t ask for help, probably would resist it if it were offered, and it won’t be offered anyway because family, friends, and psychoblabbers  can’t stand the drama or even actually are amused by it.

The article tries to make sense out of the relationship between this family and the welfare system and it can’t.  It’s so unbelievable it sounds like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

This brings up a lot of issues.  But, for right now,  I pray that those kids will recover.

Here’s a good article from Australia about Filicide.  That’s people who kill their children.  Talks about connection with Divorce.  And the tendency for everyone around, friends, family, therapists, etc., to go into denial, or at least do nothing.   The grandmother wrote back on Facebook to her granddaughter that she was “there for you.”   She could have at least told the kid to take her brother and go hide or to fake a convulsion to distract the adults.

“Mental Health, Filicide, Parental Separation and Divorce:  The need for early intervention and a better coordinated approach.” by Dr. Daniell Tyson and Prof. Thea Brown.

EDIT added December 28, 2011:  Both of Rachel Grimmer’s children died within 2 days of the shooting.  May they Rest in Peace.



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.