Spoiled Children of Divorce

NPR Show on Step-Families

This wasn’t the best Talk of the Nation show that I’ve ever listened to on NPR radio, but, at least they’re trying.

Neal Conan interviews Brenda Ockun of Stepmom magazine and Andrew Cherlin, writer of The Marriage-Go-Round.  The point of the show is to market blended families to the public by saying that the word “Step” creates a negative stigma that needs to be dropped.  Both interviewees represent the Step-Parents’ points of view and were honestly trying to discuss how difficult the situation can be. Ockun seemed sort of nervous to be interviewed but speaks from a pretty honest point of view.  Cherlin said that it typically takes 7 years for a blended family to get used to each other.  If he had said, wow, that’s a huge chunk of your kids’ or your partners’ kids’ childhoods to screw up, isn’t it?  I would have felt that he was being fair.  As it is, I felt that this old school of narcissistic attitudes towards families is still as abusive (in a passive aggressive way, of course) as it always was.  Beating the square peg into the round hole kind of thing.

The callers who phoned in seemed to represent a wide variety of situations.  I don’t remember any bio Mothers calling in, which is telling.

Two phone calls came in from children who had grown up in blended families.  The first was a guy who said that as an adult he avoids his step-family (alcohol).  The second was a woman who tried to honestly describe her situation with her step- or half-siblings who came from an earlier marriage of one or more parents.  Interviewer Conan somehow twisted the situation around to get her to admit that she manipulated her parents into giving her stuff.  It was weird, actually seemed blatantly sexist because he waited to pick on the female, but typical of how NPR has aged out of progressive thinking.  That old Spoiled child thing.  Makes me feel grumpy.  Wish they had said that it’s important for the parents to have at least a year of counseling/education before committing their kids to the misery.

There were no distinctions made about the difference between blended families that come from death of a parent as opposed to blended families that come from divorce.  But, they really didn’t discuss Divorce at all.  Isn’t that weird?  As I said, it was a bad interview.  And I think that people are trying to heal people without trying to looking at what’s ailing them.  Do most parents really think of their children as household pets?

Warren Buffett’s Advice for Success in Life

A Yahoo/Huffington Post article and video of Warren Buffett giving advice for his success in life.

This is a great introduction to my next phase of development post which, in my opinion, represents the most difficult age/phase for a child going through a traumatic event like a divorce because it mixes up the idea of what the Moon and Saturn represent in Astrology.  In a very basic phrasing, the Moon represents Unconditional Love and Saturn represents Condtional Love.  Both are essential for well being in the world, of course.  Kids who receive nothing but unconditional love from their parents without the setting of boundaries and conditions often have problems with drugs/alcohol/crime, etc.

But, Buffett says here that he feels the greatest gift his Father gave him was Unconditional Love, the feeling that he could always have something to come back to.  The way that these two elements blend in a person’s life is very important to watch.  Saturn represents setting Goals and achievement.  But, Saturn is often called the Taskmaster and the Devil because the lessons he sets for us are often to difficult for us to succeed in.  There is often a lack of feeling or tolerance which turns into a fear of failure.  A child who has to try to deal with Saturn without also having use of the riches of the Moon won’t be able to pick himself up and move on in life after a failure.  There has to be that sense of trust which occurs deep down in the unconscious.  And the Moon is the unconscious (Saturn calls it insanity, but that’s because Saturn is a jerk).

So, Divorce represents the ideas of Venus, Pluto, Uranus and Neptune in a person’s life.  Obviously not represented by the Moon and Saturn which are the basic building blocks of what an individual needs to get ahead in the world.  If the parents don’t function the way they ought to, then the step-parents are going to be extra evil.  If the child doesn’t develop that feeling deep down in his soul that he can have something to fall back on that will catch him, he will probably never take risks needed to get ahead. The “Happy” that is associated with Venus, the Sun and Uranus, doesn’t happen unless the Moon and Saturn are deeply secure within a person.  That’s where the parents who divorce are screwing up.

Buffett’s advice is also highly hypocritical when matched against his life.  He never divorced his first wife but lived apart from her since the middle 1970s.  He lived with another woman since that time and married her after his first wife died in 2004.  He has disowned one of his son’s children.

So, there you go, we’re stuck in the middle of a bunch of big experiments where nobody in the end really knows what is right and what is wrong. And, it’s important to pay attention to the fact that people who mess up by marrying the wrong person the first time around don’t repeat the same mistakes the second and third times around.  The hypocrisy that some parents show in their family lives doesn’t go away just because they divorce.  It’s important to state that because I know a lot of people out there who justify their own divorces by saying that they don’t want to be unhappy like their parents.  Generally we fall back into the same stupid traps the second time around in relationships.

Parents Meet Through Kids’ Friends
June 10, 2010, 9:51 pm
Filed under: self-absorbed parents, step-siblings, Stepfamilies

Since my Father met my Step-Mother through my friend and I when were about 12, I sort of wonder how common it is for parents to meet through their children.  I’ve met 3 other people whose parents met, divorced, and married through the child’s relationships with a friend.  (That’s a difficult relationship to describe).  All of us were female and I wonder if that’s a coincidence.  Do parents ever want to screw and marry with their son’s friends’ parents, or is it only the girls who to enjoy this aspect of their parents’ marital discord?

Either way, I don’t think this is a very common experience for most Children of Divorce.  It certainly isn’t talked about.  Whenever I hear a Step-parent talk about how “manipulative” the step-daughter is, how difficult “Step Families” are, I pretty much “know” that this is as close to admission of guilt as most step-parents can get.

For me it added an element of further betrayal to the divorce which my brother didn’t have to go through.  I also had to spend the rest of my relationship with my friend/step-sister watching her slowly benefit and thrive from the stability that my Father’s existence in her life gave her.  She also inherited a shit load of money.  There was constant competition, sniping and blaming.  My Step-Mother’s behavior in other areas was just too rotten.  She would have had to spend the rest of her life writing apologies to people.  And, frankly, I don’t think she was that well bred to figure she would have too bother with such things.

My Father and Step-Mother, of course, took no responsibility for what they had done.  I always keep thinking that all they would have had to do was to come clean and say they were sorry.  This is just such a stupid little hook I guess for a parent, but for me as the kid it was really huge to think that my Father would have used me in such a way.  But they never did.  Both my step-sister and I had been very docile kids and we grew up to have terrible problems with rage.

My parents were chronically burdened and went to a therapist eventually.  The therapist gave my Father some anti-depressants.  I suspect that not even the Wizard of Oz could have given my Step-Mother a heart or a soul.  The therapist, I suspect, absolved them of ever having to deal with their children.  At that point it was too late anyway.

Name of This Blog
November 18, 2009, 1:42 am
Filed under: self-absorbed parents

When I first started this blog I was clowning around with the title.  It is supposed to be a kind of joke which most Children of D get.  At least the ones from my generation usually get it.  We have lived our lives receiving one of two replies from our peers if we bother to mention that we grew up in a divorced family.  One is the comment:  “Oh, my parents should have divorced.”  Or “You’re so lucky.  You got two presents at Christmas.  You were spoiled.”

Of course, basically this speaks of the self-absorption, greed, and materialism of people from my generation who grew up in Intact families.  They are only able to show a resentment that somebody perhaps experienced a situation that was better than theirs.  Growing up in Divorce was a demotion when I grew up.  The housing, the money, the holidays, the Joy, it all went.  I just had two sets of parents who were seriously depressed and falling deeper and deeper into alcholism, bad dates, and money problems.  You didn’t mention it because you didn’t want people to have to feel sorry for you.  In my case, I didn’t want to the social worker showing up at the door.

People from Intact families tend to think that they already know what it’s like to be from divorce.  Or maybe they can only think about themselves which is why they needed to divorce in the first place.  Someone, a think a man, just left a message on here with the usual obnoxious comment about how it’s so difficult to be a single parent.  He had no opinion about how his children felt, or at least there was no comment about how they might be feeling.  He was basically doing a marketing thing to advertise his own blog which is a very rude thing in itself, but was absolutely callous to do on a blog that’s in guard dog mode regarding these jerks.  I still have his IP address.  Perhaps I should publish it so that single mothers can get a hold of him…

At any rate, for a much longer time than I care to admit I couldn’t figure out why so many step-mothers were visiting this blog.  Then finally I realized that it was because of the title.  I had asked for it.  They were seriously attracted to the concept that their step-children are spoiled and they are hell bent on complaining about it from their belligerent know-it-all perspectives.  I actually got the title from a woman who was bitching about her boyfriend’s son as being one of those “Spoiled Kids from Divorce.”   There was also a racist remark in there as well which I’m leaving out.

Exemplary Children of Divorce: Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft

Liza Minelli is the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincent Minelli. She was 5 years old when her parents were divorced. Lorna Luft is 6 years younger and is the Daughter of Judy Garland and Sid Luft. She was 9 when her parents Divorced and 16 when her Mother died. Both have been interviewed extensively about their childhoods, their Parents’ Marriages and Divorces and their Mother. The two half-sisters don’t seem to have a close relationship. This is a comparison of what they’ve said about their parents’ divorces.

Liza Minelli’s description of growing up in Divorce:


  • IS: Talk about feeling naked! You’re actually very good at showing how vulnerable we all are. Do you think your parents” divorce when you were little had anything to do with that?
  • LM: It gave me two wonderful outlets. My mother was an artist and highly strung, whereas my father was much calmer. He wasn’t like that on the set–evidently, he was Caesar on the set [Sischy laughs]–but at home he was sensational, and so was Mama. But Mama was stricter: I had to wear this and I had to do that. She was really kind and loving, but I used to be so happy to go to my father’s house. He was looser, and he fed my dreams.
  • IS: How?
  • LM: Well, I would go over to my dad’s house on a Saturday, and I would tell him everything, and I’d ask his advice. At the age of 6 or 7, I was like, “Well, what should I do?” And he’d say, “Do what you think.” Which made me realize that I had to think for myself. He would always talk to me like a very sensible human being. And then after he’d lay something like that on me, he’d say, “Who do you want to be today?” And I’d look at him and say, “Spanish dancer.” And he’d say, “All right.” And we’d get in the car and drive to Rexall on La Cienega and Beverly Boulevard, and we would buy crepe paper and a big box of safety pins. Then we went home, and because he’d been a wonderful costume designer and set designer in Chicago and in New York for Radio City Music Hall, he would create a Spanish dancer’s dress on me. He would pin the crepe paper with the safety pins and change my whole world. And when he was finished he would sit down and look at me and tell me how beautiful I was, and how wonderful, and then he’d say, “Liza, what does a Spanish dancer do?” And I would say, “Dance.” And he’d say, “Yes,” and he’d put on the music, and it was always the right music. I don’t know when he found the time to find the right music for what I had wanted to be, but he did, and suddenly I could dance, and I could find a whole world of dreams and the possibility of becoming somebody else. I’ve said it before, but it’s absolutely true: My mother gave me my drive, but my father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future.

Lorna Luft, younger half-sister, wrote a book, Me and My Shadows, about growing up in the same household. This is from Booklist review on Amazon:

  • Luft, often identified as Judy Garland’s “other daughter,” steps center stage to describe what life was like as the child of an icon. For the first nine years of her life, Luft was protected from the vagaries of her mother’s prescription-drug abuse and downward-spiraling mental health. But after her parents’ divorce, Luft found herself in the role of chief cook and bottle washer–in charge of cleaning up her mother’s messes. The horror stories from this period include breakdowns, breakups with almost everyone who was close to Garland, paranoia, and even knife-wielding episodes in which Garland went after her young son. After Luft had her own breakdown at 16, she left her mother’s home and never saw Garland alive again. Despite all the horror, Luft is kind to her mother’s memory, seeing the star as sick, not evil, and remembering all the many loving times shared between mother and daughter. Sister Liza Minelli doesn’t fare quite as well. Although Luft has many nice things to say about her, Liza’s drug abuse has left the pair estranged. Oh, yes, Luft had her own life, too, but not unexpectedly, her affairs with even the likes of Burt Reynolds and Barry Manilow and her own drug problems don’t make for nearly as fascinating reading as her tales of Judy and Liza. Dishy–and sure to be popular. Ilene Cooper

There are many interviews out there by Lorna Luft discussing her parents. I like this one in particular:

  • “You don’t really know your parents until you are in your 40’s,” she said.
  • “In your 20’s you have no idea, in your 30’s you start to get to know them and in your 40’s you have had some of the experiences they had and it is just a natural understanding that comes from being this age.”

from http://www.aussietheatre.com/news.htm “Growing up Garland: Lorna’s incredible Life.”

Judy Garland died of a drug overdose at Age 47. She had attempted Suicide previously.

Christian Brando

Marlon Brando’s troubled Son, Christian, passed away yesterday in Los Angeles, California. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia. Christian was 49 years old.  May he Rest in Peace.

Christian was the eldest of Brando’s nine children. His Mother, Anna Kashfi, was also an actress. She separated from Brando when Christian was 5 months old and the couple divorced on Apr. 22, 1959 (can’t vouch for any dates here). The couple remained in a custody dispute over Christian until 1972 when Kashfi abducted the 13 year boy and took him to Mexico. She was sent to jail and subsequently lost all chance for custody. His Mother had drug and alcohol problems.

Christian dropped out of High School and held minor acting jobs. As can be expected he had emotional problems and ended up killing his sister Cheyenne’s boyfriend while arguing over whether the boyfriend had beaten his pregnant half-sister. He spent 5 years in jail for the murder. Cheyenne gave birth to the baby but hanged herself at Age 25. Christian was recently divorced for violent behavior to his wife and her daughter.

This is a description of his childhood from http://www.astrotheme.com. (Date of parents’ separation is different from one mentioned in obituary in newspaper (www.mercurynews.com):

Kashfi turned to barbiturates and alcohol and the couple divorced a year after Christian’s birth in May 1959. Christian was passed between the two as their relationship became more and more hostile and abusive. The author Nellie Bly claimed that “When the Brandos quarreled, Anna displayed a ‘frightening’ rage,” and that “Anna left baby Christian alone in her car parked on Wilshire Boulevard while she confronted Brando in his office, ‘beating at him with her fists, in a frenzy of rage.” There was a protracted custody battle between Kashfi and Brando until he eventually won custody of Christian aged 13 after an incident when Christian was taken out of school to Mexico by Kashfi without Brando’s consent.

Christian had little good contact with his father, being raised by nannies and servants, moving between Hollywood and the private island near Tahiti. A reluctant witness to his father’s sexual exploits and bizarre behavior, Christian complained that:
“The family kept changing shape, I’d sit down at the breakfast table and say, “Who are you?””

Success Story – Jack London

Jack London is the famous writer of White Fang and The Call of the Wild. One is a story about a wild dog who is taken in and tamed and the other is about a tame dog who becomes wild. You can see the Children of Divorce theme all the place in these themes.

London was born in San Francisco, California to a professional Astrologer and a Spiritualist in the late 19th century.  His birth was unwanted.  His Father abandonned his Mother when she announced her pregnancy.  She had suffered a childhood illness which left her weak both physically and mentally.  She resented London’s presence and passed his upbringing over to an ex-slave.  She remarried and Jack London took his stepfather’s name.  That couple had two children. London was taken out of school at the age of 10 and put to work for 10-12 hours a day.  Eventually he found the Public Library and educated himself.  After owning his own fishing boat and losing it among other adventures, London returned to High School and graduated.  He went to college for a year but dropped out due to financial problems.

London was the most commercially successful writer of his time. He was married twice, once divorced and had 2 daughters. He considered his 2d wife to be his soul-mate.  London was an Alcoholic and a womanizer and he was accused of plagiarizing some of his works.  He tried his hand at owning a Ranch and failed.  Already suffering from Kidney Failure, London either overdosed on his medication or committed Suicide at the age of 40.