Spoiled Children of Divorce


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.



Complex PTSD as a result of Divorce

Dealing with parents who are blaming you for everything, probably even dealing with parents who blame each other for everything, can lead to later psychological problems which are now being labelled “Complex PTSD.” A child who regularly experiences this along with alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, mental illness, poverty, neglect, unreliability, blame, suicide, etc. etc. could develop Complex PTSD. Here is an article which discusses Learned Helplessness which is one symptom associated with complex-PTSD. The author does not recognize fallout from divorce. They never do. Get used to it. She connects it to feeling shame. Learned helplessness can result from trying to get your parents to stop arguing, witnessing domestic violence, trying to convince a parent to stop abusing drugs or alcohol, probably even waiting to be picked up from school if the parent is chronically late and the other kids have all left. It seems there are some studies about this for parents who go through divorce, especially the ones who divorce a Narcissist. I guess kids who are left to fend for themselves with a Narcissistic parent. A psychologist will not gloss over the fact that you had a narcissistic parent. A great Huffington Post article explains what this means. The writer Craig Malkin describes 8 problems which children of narcissistic parents face: 1. Chronic self-blame 2. Echoism 3. Insecure attachment 4. Need-panic 5. Fierce independence 6. Parentified child 7. Extreme narcissism 8. PTSD.

Psych researchers are picking through various talked about problems and trying to identify whether struggle s a child of divorce is dealing with is related to the divorce or whether it is related to the actual problem. Don’t have a link, but one study found that certain stress symptoms are related to being a child of an alcoholic rather than a child of divorce. I don’t think the study looked at children who experienced death of a parent or whose parents never married to compare. Maybe they have at the research level.

I’ve discussed the ACE Study before. The Huffington Post wrote a great 4-part article on the ACE Study. If interested try looking there. It’s a huge study of employed, functional people who developed chronic illness later in life. It found a direct link between chronic illness and multiple stressors in the life. There are more stressors than included in the study. All a Doctor has to do is to question the patient about the 9 stressors involved and then patients will have remarkably fewer problems with the illness. Something like a 30 percent reduction of office visits.