Spoiled Children of Divorce


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.



Sleep Disorders Related to Divorce

I suffer from sleep disorders.  I know that what I went through with my Mother after the divorce is a major reason for sending the problem over the top.  But, I’ve never had this recognized by a shrink.

I had no problem until after I stopped living with my Mother.  That is, the problem of being kept awake all night and screamed at among other things just stuck with me.  I didn’t notice it until after the other problem was removed from my life.

During my first year in College I had a kind of funny and loud roommate.  The guy living in the room next door asking me how I could stand it.  Truth is, I didn’t notice it.  I did flunk out of that college almost immediately after entering.  I did notice a huge problems in the next college I went to.  The problem wasn’t so much that I couldn’t sleep, it was because I had been put in to a room that was under a really noisy guy.  At that point, my anorexia had gotten a lot worse.  I had several severe nutritional deficiencies because of it.  One was a Vitamin B deficiency which was noticable because the sides of my mouth were cracked.  Vitamin B is related to nervous disorders.  So that could possibly be a problem.

But I think my problem went back further than the divorce.  If my parent’s problems, and specifically my Mother’s problem, had been handled responsibly (she was the loud one), I probably would have outgrown the problem.  But my Father removed himself from the situation and it became worse for the rest of us because of it.   As a child, I was sick all the time in the era when antibiotics were given away like candy by the doctors.  I was asthmatic and was given a medication which was composed of uppers and downers and some sort of extremely toxic asthma medication which was only effective at the dosage which it became fatal.  Asthma is considered a psychiatric problem by the Medcial Community., At least I know it has been up til pretty recently because I had a roommate, a Nurse, who used to bitch about her difficult asthmatic patients.  (Hang a rope around your neck and dangle for a day and you’ll know the psychology that’s behind asthma).  Another interesting thing is related to an unbelievably obvious environmental situation.   My bedroom was always right next to the kitchen.  And that’s where my parents used to party all night.  I had no choice about sleeping on those nights.  It was loud.  The piano was right up against my bedroom wall.  If I complained my Mother would yell at me, because, she was drunk, and an alcoholic.  And she was fun.  And I wasn’t.  I was grumpy because I couldn’t sleep, for one thing.

So, I found this old book in the library, from 1985.  (1984 is the last time that California counted Divorce Statistics. ) That’s when the “No Fault Parenting Laws” snuck in under the “No Fault Divorce Laws.”  At any rate, when I pick up these self help books I know that there won’t be a whole chapter which discusses “Divorce”.   I go straight to the index.  In this case, probably because parents were still aware that their children existed, there are a large amount of listing: 5 listings (small listings) of the word “Divorce.”  More recent books have completely stopped using the word.  It makes the parents unhappy.

So here we go:  Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.  By Richard Ferber, M.D., Director, Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, Children’s Hospital, Boston, 1985, this is paperback published 1986, Simon and Schuster.

p.  39 Chapter called “Developing Good Sleep Patterns”  Section called:  Should Your Child Sleep in Your Bed?”

It’s about how sleeping alone helps a child develop independence.  Kids can come between the parents, it can be a power play.  Single parents are lonely and will often want a kid to sleep with them and this creates problems for the child.

Author could have added a comment about how different this situation is for a child with a step-parent.  That child will know early on that he can’t go into his parents’ bed because of well, there’s a stranger in bed with Mommy and/or Daddy and they’re having #$&^%$ and ##%## sex (verbage censored to protect the parents who suffer from hypocrisy and arrogance).  We won’t discuss children of divorce who have to lie awake listening to their parents doing the deed with whomever.

p. 46-47:  Chapter 4 Nighttime Fears:  The Child Who is Anxious.

“At any stage of your child’s development, specific events may intensify certain anxieties.”

  • Separation Anxiety, If you become sick your child may not be able to leave your side because of guilt,
  • Toilet training trauma, that must have been a big ordeal for me thank god I don’t remember it,
  • “worries about ability to control herself” (funny, how the gender thing takes over in this writing because back in 1985 grammar was pretty conservative and writers always used the masculine).
  • Scary movies.
  • Fear of kidnapping.

Oook here it comes:  There’s one paragraph for toilet training anxieties, 6 lines about scary movie anxiety, then:

  • “And significant social stresses of any kind, over which the child has little control — illness, parental fighting, separation, divorce, alcoholism, death — may lead to a great deal of worry, guilt, anxiety, and fear at any age.”
  • Shit, give me a scary movie and a bowl of ice cream any old day.

Here’s what happens after you have been tucked in during your munchkin years with regards to dealing with anxiety in your life:

“During the day it is much easier to keep worries under control.  Most children keep pretty busy and don’t have time to brood over their problems.  But at night as your child gets into bed, turns out the light, and prepares for sleep, she may begin to worry.  If she lies quietly in bed, there is little to do but think, and her fantaises may run free.  As your child gets sleepy, her ability to avoid certain thoughts diminishes.  She has less control over her feelings, urges, and fears.  In this state she begins to feel, and may even act, more childish.   In this “regressed” state at night, a four-or five-year-old may need the same reassurance that a two- or three-year-old needs during the day.

Today, they just say it’s genetics and they gork the kid out on psych drugs.  Notice once again the referral to the female gender.  Today we know that boys suffer more because of divorce overall and are 3 times more likely to grow up suicidal.  So, maybe sexism is protective is some way.  Dash out their dreams young and they won’t grow up to disappoint.

Thank God that this last year tons of oil was spewed in to the Gulf Coast and radiactive Plutonium is spewing into the Pacific Ocean from Japan.  People at this time last year were worrying about how all the psych drugs were killing off the fish.  Pharmaceutical Industry is let off the hook for what people have been urinating into the oceans.

After this there is a long pause concering sleep problems existing as a result of parental divorce.  We don’t find another mention until page 154.  There are chapters about parental behavior, scheduling situations, medical causes.  Then the Big D again comes up under the “Interruptions during Sleep” Chapter (Mommy having Sex with b.ff in room next door?)  in a Chapter called “Sudden Partial Wakings.”  That’s funny because the planet Uranus is associated with Sudden Shocking Events, Divorce, Hopes, Wishes and on rare occassions, Spiritual Awakenings.  The spiritual astrologers calm their clients fears about what Uranus is doing to wreck their lives by telling them that these events are happening in order to give them great spiritual insights that they otherwise would have not been able to learn.  We are all in this ucky muck together, if we have control and order we can’t have chaos and chaos is what creates a happy society.  Stuff like that.  I don’t doubt that some of it is true.  I also fear Uranus transits like the plague.  Nothing says “We Love You but in a Distant, Irresponsible type of way because there’s just too much going on in our own lives” quite like a Uranus transit.  Uranus rules rebellious behaviors against Status quo.  So, it’s great for rebelling against things like the Catholic Church and starting a new business that looks to improve society through innovation., The problem is that Uranus is one of the last rulers of the Astrological Wheel.  It is a very adult energy which looks at communities as a whole and its placement on the chart sort of shows the trigger energy that makes the whole world just keep rolling around.  He’s the energy that says that nothing is permanent or lasts because permanence, in itself, is evil and keeps things from getting better.  He lets Aquarius Sun Dick Cheney stand in front of the World and promote anti-Gay propaganda all the while campaigning with his daughter who is Gay.  Weirdness.  I told you, it’s an adult energy.

At any rate, p. 154 begins talking about a boy named Christopher whose Father has recently died.  So, it’s not about Divorce, it’s about Death of a Parent.  Christopher would wake up an hour after falling asleep and scream out and wouldn’t respond to his Mother.  Then he would sleepwalker around the house until 4:00 am.  Mom got sick and was gone for two weeks, then she remarried and had a new baby.  Christopher got a lot worse and was doing his thing multiple times a night.  How to get Christopher to calm down?   So here’s what the Doctor found:

“When I saw Christopher he was a nice quiet youngster, but despite his calm exterior he seemed very tense and anxious.  I learned that his father and stepfather were alcoholics and there was some violence within his home.  He had many angry feelings toward people around him but was afraid to express them.  He was quite frightened at his lack of control of the world about him and was surely distraught that his parents could not seem to control themselves.  He devoted much of his own energy toward rigid self-control.  He worried that if he did not control his feelings, there would be dire consequences.”

The Dr. then sends Christopher and his Mom to counseling.  As I said the Father is dead.  The step-father, an alcoholic, doesn’t need counseling?  The Dr. gives the kid some drugs because the Mother is so angry about being kept up all night.  There’s nothing about divorce in this one, I don’t know why I tagged it.  I guess to just study about how the step-parenting thing isn’t discussed.  This is between the subset relationship within Christopher’s family, him and his Mom.

The next mention of the Big D is on p. 196-7 in a Chapter called “Headbanging, Body Rocking, and Head Rolling.

Kind of interesting that kids generally start headbanging around Age18 months.  That’s right before the first Mars Return. Mars rules the head.  And banging.  If a child stops doing this around Age 3 or 4 there’s nothing to worry about. The second Mars Return occurs right before Age 4.  Kids do these “rhythmic behaviors.”  Those ages are under the influence of Jupiter and Jupiter rules abstract thought.  Maybe there’s a connection between giving one’s self a concussion and being capable of abstract thought?  Weird.  Teething begins around the same time as headbanging and rocking so the kid might just be in physical pain or discomfort.  Interesting.

There’s discussion about an 8-year-old girl named Jessica who began Head Thumping after her parents’ divorce.  She would lie on her stomach and thump her head on the bed repeatedly.

“She was afraid she might cause her mother more unhappiness, and , if this happened, she would suffer even more loss of love.  It was clear that the recurrence of Jessica’s headbanging was in response to her current emotional struggles.”

Yeah, she just want to feel the pain on a physical level.  But, I wonder if Jessica is one of the Adult Children of Divorce who has gone on to become twice as likely as Children from Intact Families to suffer a stroke later on in adult life.  The Dr. says to ignore it and let the child outgrow it.  He says that concussions don’t happen from this.  This was written in 1985, so maybe things have changed.



What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Exemplary Children of D – Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp gave an incredible performance of an oldest Son growing up while living with a helpless, obese, single mother and younger brother  in the movie:  What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Probably not really good Holiday Viewing, though.  Just happened to think of it right now.

Johnny Depp is a Child of D.  His parents would have divorced around the time that Depp was 15.  Here’s an except from his biography on Wikipedia.

Depp was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, the son of Betty Sue Palmer (née Wells), a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, Sr., a civil engineer.[3] He has one brother, Danny, and two sisters, Christie (now his personal manager) and Debbie. … The family moved frequently during Depp’s childhood, and he and his siblings lived in more than 20 different locations, settling in Miramar, Florida, in 1970. In 1978, Depp’s parents divorced. He engaged in self-harm as a child, due to the stress of dealing with family problems and his own insecurity. He has seven or eight scars from practicing self-harm. In a 1993 interview, he explained his self-injury by saying, “My body is a journal in a way. It’s like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist”.[8]

1980s

Depp’s mother bought her son a guitar when he was 12, and Depp began playing in various garage bands. His first band was in honor of his girlfriend, Meredith. A year after his parents’ divorce, Depp dropped out of high school to become a rock musician. As he once explained on Inside the Actors Studio, he attempted to go back to school two weeks later, but the principal told him to follow his dream of being a musician. …