Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Natasha Trethewey

Pulitzer Prizewinning Poetess Natasha Trethewey is a Child of Divorce.  I heard her interviewed on the NPR Program Fresh Air yesterday.

I was first attracted to the interview because I couldn’t believe what amazingly long sentences Trethewey can spin.  She can assemble more thoughts into a single sentence in a way that still makes sense than anyone I’ve ever heard.  So it made sense that she’s a poet. Her personal story is even more amazing.

Trethewey won the Pulitzer for her collection of poems called Native Guard.  Some of these poems are about her Mother who was murdered by her Step-Father when Trethewey was 19 years old.  Trethewey’s younger brother witnessed the murder when he was 11 (or 12) years old.  (Sorry I was listening while driving in the car and I can’t remember the details really well).

Trethewey was born in Mississippi. Her parents divorced at some point before Trethewey started grade school.  She lived with her Mother in Georgia and spent Summers in New Orleans with her Father and with her Grandmother in  Mississippi.

Her new book is about how her family was affected by Hurricane Katrina.  Her Brother was destroyed financially and, out of desperation, turned to dealing drugs.   It turns out that he was arrested for possession of Cocaine the same day that Trethewey was awarded the Pulitzer.  Have to sit down with this astrology chart at some point in the future when I can be very very quiet…  This date will be interesting to look at from an astrological point of view as it was 10 days before Trethewey’s 41st Birthday.  By coincidence, Trethewey’s Mother was killed 10 days before her (the Mother’s) 41st Birthday as well.  It’s amazing to hear a very articulate poet discuss the complicated and confusing feelings and methods of coping with this amount of tragedy.  I sure would like to hear her ideas, if any, about her parents’ divorce.  I’m a little slow at reading poetry but I’ll be looking for both books.  The new book is called Beyond Katrina.

Trethewey is bi-racial.  Her Mother was an African American Social Worker and her Father is a White College Professor.  Her Step-Father (don’t know race, etc) was a Vietnam Veteran and worked for an Air Conditioning and Heating Company.  The story about what Trethewey’s brother had to go through is unbelievable.  As I said he was 11 or 12 years old at the time of the murder.  His parents had already divorced and I don’t know what age he was at that point.

Divorced Parents Have Weakened Immune Systems and Chronic Health Problems
July 27, 2009, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Health, links to articles, PTSD, separate households, Stepfamilies

As usual there is no mention about health effects of Children of Divorce, but a recent study from the University of Chicago Center on Aging has determined that people who suffer the loss of a marriage are 20 percent more likely to suffer from chronic health problems.  That makes for more responsibilities for the kids to have to manage along with weakened role models to emulate.

The study will be published in the Journal of Health & Social Behavior, Sept, 2009 issue.

I’ve said before that I think it probably matters in the quality of life for the children whether or not they live with the parent who decides to leave or the one who is dumped.  The child has much exposure to very complex and difficult emotions if living in the same house with a heartbroken parent.  The role of “Choice” is known in being a major factor in development of PTSD type of emotional problems and I think it makes sense that this will transfer on down to the kids, maybe only one of the kids in the family will absorb the responsibilities.  

I’m finding it very alarming how Step-parents are the only ones who seem to express any open reactions to split family situations.  The level of hostility in many of these situations can only be destructive and the biological parents need to take the most active role in setting up positive relations. 

Studies like these are also deceptive because they leave out the families who benefit from Divorce.  Either way these studies always seem to find that same 20-25% ratio of people who are affected by any stress that I keep seeing repeat itself.  I sort of suppose that 25% have extreme negative reactions, 25% benefit, and 50% plead complacency, but that’s a gross assumption.

From the Yahoo article called:   “Marriage Ends; Health Declines” by Randy Dotinga:

Other important factors include the nature of marriages and their breakups, said marriage researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser.

Her research has found that women and men who were recently divorced had weaker immune systems than those who had been divorced longer. “We also found that it mattered if you had chosen the divorce, or if your spouse was the one who asked for it,” said Kiecolt-Glaser, director of health psychology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. “You are better off being the one who walked rather than the one who was left behind.”

Also, she said, those who remain preoccupied with thoughts of their former spouse — either pro or con — had immune problems.

Allegedly Bad Children of Divorce – Tyler Hayes Weinman

Tyler Weinman is 18 years old and has just graduated from High School. He was arrested just after midnight on Sunday night for the recent gruesome killings of cats in Southern Florida. At least 33 cats have recently been found dead in the areas where Tyler’s parents live, mostly in the area around his Father’s house.

Tyler lives with his Mother in Cutler Bay, Florida.  His Father and Step-Mother live a mile or two away. Tyler Weinman is a Child of D.

Yes, Mom and Dad are Divorced and it seems that Tyler spends a lot of time trafficking between the two homes.  And his path to and fro is where the cats are dying.  Maybe it’s best if the parents live far apart so that their kids have to spend most of their travel time at the airport.  Don’t think there’s a big cat population at the airport that they can take their frustrations out on.

So this is one of the few cases where a Divorce situation is being openly discussed by the media.  And suddenly there is much discussion about how kids from broken homes are cat killers because, well, you know, it’s stressful coming from a broken home.  (Strangely, the Psychologists and the Parents don’t know about this stress, but the Police know it, the Whiners from the Intact Families who always complain about how much better their childhoods would have been if only their parents had divorced, they suddenly know it too.)

So then we have to back track. Half of all the kids running around in the United States are growing up in Divorce.  Half of all the kids in the country aren’t killing their neighbors’ cats.   (Of course, it’s difficult to read about Tyler’s life and not feel a bit of empathy for how stressful it must be.)  Tyler’s Father is remarried so at least one half of Tyler’s set of families is happy in the eyes of society.  But that brings up the discussion about how he’s obviously a sociopath because he doesn’t get along with his Step-Mother.  Mom’s life is not reported. I don’t know if Tyler has siblings.   Tyler’s father is a Dentist which indicates money.  To me that indicates a split financial situation between households and a lot of fighting over money, but the folks from the Intact Families say it’s a sure sign that:  Tyler is a Spoiled Child of Divorce.

The police are not letting out pertinent information with regards to Tyler’s case. This could be fueling the media’s early “conviction” of Tyler based on his family status.  What else are they going to talk about after all?

We don’t know if Tyler killed the cats but I suppose the police wouldn’t have arrested him if they weren’t pretty sure.  They had secretly put a tracker on his car and had been following him around for weeks, after all.  They had been staking out his Father’s house.  Tyler has been released with an ankle bracelet and a big bond payment and he will receive psychiatric evaluations.

I may have wrong information here but I believe that Tyler’s first arrest came a couple of days after the first dead cat showed up.  The neighbors immediately pointed their fingers at him.  The police didn’t find cat blood but they did find pot in his car and discovered that he was driving with a suspended license  according to this article. Then they stopped him for skateboarding at 2:00 am dressed in black.  That’s suspicious unless your only other choice is to try to sleep in a house with a screaming parent. Of course, I don’t know about Tyler’s home life.  You never, ever ask about the parents Divorce situation or mental status.  It is assumed that they mean well.

The media has incorrectly reported that Tyler was first arrested while attending his Senior Prom.  Tyler’s neighbors supposedly told the media that he was carted off while wearing his Tuxedo.  It turns out that his prom took place 3 weeks before the first killing occurred.

There’s discussion over Tyler’s mugshot which alone really does seem to convict him.  He looks pretty sociopathic because he’s smiling, smirking, as it’s being called.  But, who knows what’s going here?  Since he’s a pothead and was arrested late at night while at a party it makes sense that he was probably high.  He may have not been very lucid and he may not have been told what he had been arrested for and he may have been assuming that this was another pot charge.  Potheads always have those devastating smiles.  The photographer had probably told him to wipe the grin off his face and in his state of mind this was the best he could do.

The media is concentrating on the fact that Tyler doesn’t get along with his Step-Mother and is obviously motivated to kill cats because she has cats.  She has 9 cats which is a little OCD, IMO (and I’m a cat person).

It sounds like Tyler likes cats, anyway.  If what I read is true and sorry I don’t have a link, one of Tyler’s Mom’s neighbors says that Tyler owns a cat which he took in as a stray.  Tyler also has a girlfriend.  Or had a girlfriend.  His alleged homosexuality has come up for discussion as well as his Jewish last name.  Boy, this is really creepy.  With these attitudes I’d say that just about anybody living in South Florida would be capable of killing a cat.

I’m not saying that Tyler is innocent.  If he did these crimes then he is seriously disturbed.  But the media’s reporting of this case is even more disturbing.  Guess I’m adding to it…

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

Philip Markoff – Jekyll and Hyde Or Child of Divorce?

Between Apr. 10 and April 16 three women were bound and robbed in Hotel Rooms in Boston, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  They had all advertised as masseuses on CraigsList.  One of the victims, Julissa Brisman, was shot multiple times and subsequently murdered.  The other two women survived.  23 year old medical student Philip Markoff has been traced to all 3 attacks and is currently being held in jail.  A gay man is also said to have contact with Markoff through an email (news about that is sketchy right now).

The media is going on and on about Markoff’s impending marriage which was to be held in August.   It sounds as if Markoff’s family history is quite strained as well and, although, I can’t find the full picture, this is what I’ve figured out so far.  The information may change.  One thing is certain:  Markoff is a Child of D.

People are blind sided by Markoff’s Double Personality.  (Why are people never blind-sided by a Double Childhood that results from growing up in a Divorce?)  Markoff is described as being very nice, clean cut, sort of nerdy (there’s that nerdy description again applied to a Child of D).

As an aside, I’ve tried to find information about Markoff’s alleged victims’ childhood status to see if they also were from Divorce.  His alleged Murder victim, Julissa Brisman, had the same last name as her Father while her Mother’s last name is given as Guzman so there is a possibility that Julissa’s parents are divorced.  In that case,  it is not surprising that, like Markoff,  Julissa led a double life.  Her friends, apparently, had no idea that she worked as a masseuse.  Children of D grow up as involuntary voyeurs of sorts.  They witness much behavior in their families that can’t be discussed with anyone else due to extreme emotional behaviors, secrets, allegiances, betrayals, loyalities that it is not surprising to see how double lives can manifest later in life. Innocence doesn’t exist for Children of D.  Distorted sense of lack of positive authority figures also is lacking.  In a very few people this experience of childhood into extremely advanced states of consciousness and wisdom.  In others it can cause problems as the child continues to show signs of normalcy to the outside world.  And who knows?  Maybe Markoff (assuming he’s guilty of course) is just a bad egg.

It would be interesting to know whether or not Markoff’s fiancee is from a Divorce or Intact family just for comparison’s sake but she’s going through enough Hell right now and doesn’t need any more scrutiny.

Markoff’s parents were divorced when he was very young.  I don’t have an age.  Right now I just know that it happened before he was 5 years old because that’s when his Mother gave birth to his sister who was his Step-Father’s child.

I’ve read that Markoff’s Father, Richard Markoff, is a Dentist so that probably puts Markoff in a wealthy class on his Father’s side.  I’ve read that his Mother is or was a Casino worker.  That definitely means that his Mother is not wealthy.  If it’s true it paints a much different attitude toward money in that household and that Markoff would have constantly tried to reconcile two great schisms of class into his life (all the while trying to grow up).  Children of D often grow up in two completely different financial classes.  One can pretty accurately assume that the poor parent expresses great resentment over the other parent’s financial status.  Even if that doesn’t happen, the child is a witness who is stuck in between.  This can create detachment and just plain old weird behavior.

Markoff has an older brother, Jon, from his parents’ marriage.  It seems that Jon is his closest relative. News reports showed that the Brother spent the most time visiting with Markoff in jail.  Siblings in Divorce often have to take over as supports.   One might imagine that Markoff’s parents probably can’t stand each other and are adding to the tension for Markoff.  Anybody who has endured bringing both parents together for family “celebrations” like graduations and weddings knows how tense those situations are.  Imagine if you’ve just been stuck in jail for murder and need emotional support from self-absorbed parents.  At any rate, the Rich Dentist Father is probably so tired of hearing from the Mother about financial support problems that he’s not about to help his kid out here (my assumption about situation which is hopefully wrong).

Both of Markoff’s parents reportedly have remarried which means that Markoff was blessed with Step-Parents on both sides.  Maintaining a sweet, nerdy disposition was probably Markoff’s greatest survival tool during childhood.  He made everyone comfortable and was well liked for never making a fuss.

Markoff’s older brother reportedly moved in with his Father and Wife while Markoff lived with his Mother and her Husband.  Don’t know what age.

When the oldest child moves out this can possibly show a couple of things.  Who knows if they apply in Markoff’s case.  First thing to think about is that the household that the only child is leaving is problematic.  Second, the younger sibling will go through feelings of rejection, loneliness and grief over having been left behind.  There could have been money problems, addictions, gambling, lack of compatibility.

By Age 5, Markoff had a younger half-sister through his Mother and Step-Father.  So there are birth order changes as is typical of step-families.

Markoff’s Mother is said to have split from his Step-Father four years ago.  Her last name at the time was Carroll.  I heard on a News Cast that her current last name is Haines so perhaps she has remarried or perhaps the media just couldn’t get the all the family mish-mash information straight.

Either way, it looks right now as if Markoff’s Mother’s 2d divorce would have occurred in 2005.  This is the same year that Markoff is said to have met his Fiancee.  I believe he would have been around 19 years old.

Source:  http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/04/alleged_craigsl.html#commentshttp://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/04/26/2009-04-26_suspect_and_victim_led_secret_lives_med_student_gambled__actress_gave_massages.html?page=0

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Noah Baumbach

Noah Baumbach is the Director/Writer of one of the few true movies about going through a Divorce, The Squid and the Whale.  It is said to be based on experiences he went through during his own parents’ divorce.  Baumbach’s biography is a little sketchy so I’m not sure of his age at the time of his parent’s divorce.  I’m assuming he was around Age 15 or 16.

The Squid and the Whale is about a family living in Brooklyn in the mid-80s.  The parents are intellectuals, both writers, the Father is going through a mid-life crisis and down-turn in his career and ego and the Mother’s career is just taking off.  The sons are age 12 and age 16.  The movie does a great job of showing the strangeness of going through adolescence while also going through the parents’ divorce.

I saw the movie a while ago and thought it a little dry.  The significance of the Squid and the Whale is explained at the end but I was spacing out at that point.  Sorry.

Supposedly the first words were the 12 year old Son saying:  “Me and Mom against you and Dad.”  That definitely sums it up pretty well.

There’s a great article at indiewire which analyzes the relationships.  http://www.indiewire.com/article/noahs_arc_noah_baumbachs_the_squid_and_the_whale

Here’s a quote about how narcissistic parents raise their kids in divorce.  Can hardly wait for the sequel with Step-Parents and siblings:

“the parental choice to treat children as equals can be admirable but also suggests a deeper selfishness that seems fundamentally at odds with the job.”

Getting To Know the Missing Parent

Many kids experience the loss of one of the parents.  The double relationships are too complicated for day to day life.  The manipulations and fighting are miserable.  The transferring back and forth and constant planning and arranging for meeting times.  The awkward hellos and good-byes that aren’t supposed to exist in a family.

One parent leaves.  Usually this is the Father.  Sometimes its the Mother. Abandonment by Father is acceptable by society, abandonment by Mother is not.  This generally leads to a feeling of confusion and anger for the kid, especially as an adult.  There’s a subtle coldness in the eyes of these people if you talk about your parents to them.  The parent is out there somewhere, irresponsible and indifferent, maybe dead, maybe not.  Fathers will often summon their daughters back once they find out they are dying.  I remember this happening to a friend of mine.  The Father had left the family destitute and on welfare long ago.  He remarried and lived in wealth with his new family, very rarely paying attention to his first three children who were left with a mother who sort of went insane.  Suddenly he offered to let the girl live with the family.  Turns out they needed a nurse.

The new Mickey Rourke movie Warrior shows this situation.  Rourke is an aging professional Wrestler who has a heart attack and can’t wrestle anymore.  He suddenly remembers that he has a daughter and he messes up with her one last time. She, of course, gets screwed one last time.

I have no idea what happens when the Mother tries to reconnect.  I’ve actually never known anyone in that situation. I do remember a Meryl Streep movie about this.  The Son is Gay and dying from AIDS.  His Mother has abandonned him years before.  Meryl makes you sympathize with her, of course.  These situations always require so much sympathy, that’s the problem.  There’s a grim, levelled off sense of completion if you can sympathize with a person’s guilt.

Often Divorce can make the situation work so that a relationship can develop between the missing parent and the child.  This happened for me.  My Father said in part he wanted to be able to connect with his kids.  This was partly true and mostly a stupid manipulative thing to say. He shouldn’t have married my friend’s mother if I meant anything to him.  But he used it as an excuse.  And I did get to know him.  And if you get to know your parent you get to know your gene pool.  Sometimes that’s not desireable, sometimes it’s very useful.

I can say after the fact that I would have been better off if I hadn’t taken all that extra time to get to know him because it led ultimately to more hurt.  I had to watch what he did to my mother, then I had to have it done to me, then I had to have it done to me through his wife.  Once is enough.  Best to cut the cord.  That’s only my opinion, but my opinion comes from experience.  But, I did get to know him.  I do know that he really did try.  I probably lost a big part of my self-respect helping him to be a parent.  My feelings for him are still one of shock and indifference.  I don’t think a human soul can open up that kind of a box.