Spoiled Children of Divorce


Kids Who Move Around A Lot

I’m trying to read what is considered a classic book on child rearing, the name of which I can’t really remember, something on Nurturing?  It’s written by a woman who says that kids will turn out the way they turn out whether they have good parenting or not.  It tests the Nature v. Nurture theories in order to let the parents off the hook.  Needless to say it’s been a bestseller.

The book is highly praised by Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Pinker so it has to be good.  And it’s fun to read, the writer lists all kinds of interesting studies and has a strong voice/attitude.  And then I start to get hot-headed about the stupid Children of D comments.  Watching the dance around talking about growing up in a split household is so unbelievably unbelievable.  The writer, can’t remember her name, will get it at some point, talks about a lot of the same studies that Paul Ekman talked about in his book, but from the point of view of the modern woman who is free to do as she pleases in life in order to pursue her happiness.  She does discuss Divorce, about maybe 30 pages worth in a book that’s about 400 pages long.  In those pages there is the stupid argument about the study that says that kids who grow up in Divorce are more screwed up than the kids who suffer the death of a parent.  She, the writer, rebutts that idea saying  it would surely be a whole lot worse to have had a parent who died of AIDS than to have have divorced parents.  What is the ratio of kids who had a parent who died of AIDS to the kids who are growing up in Divorce?  I’ve never met someone whose parent died of AIDS so I really can’t say.  So, a lot of the arguments are unbelievably immature and silly. A kid from a divorced family whose parent dies of AIDS has to go through the whole process by himself without the support of a healthy family to share the experience with.  Now, there’s something to feel bad about.

The writer says these things sort of in the same obnoxious tone that I say stupid things so it doesn’t bother me all that much (but I will point out that they are stupid arguments).

What does bother me is that all the arguments about how Divorce isn’t a difficult situation for a kid to grow up are stuck in the Chapter on Dysfunctional Families.

For one, when you are growing up in Divorce you are not necessarily growing up in a dysfunctional family. You might be growing up in two dysfunctional families.  You might be growing up in two functional families but you are strangers with half of the members in each and don’t really feel like you belong anywhere.  It is highly likely that you are growing up in one normal family and one dysfunctional family, depending on which parent enters a 12 step program (or not, their preference).  And the members of the normal family will constantly discuss how abnormal the member of your dysfunctional family are, but they acknowledge that they can do nothing to help you with that problem which makes you totally hate functional people who are generally very self-involved and concerned about their own self-preservation.  And, anyway, the only people who really view themselves as being functional are the shrinks, of course, and we all know how far from reality that is.

So, at any rate, the writer of the book on nurturing, or how we don’t need nurturing, says that one of the real problems for children, the thing that really does cause stress for a child is moving around a lot.  It turns out that the writer’s family moved around a lot and she’s set up the entire tone of the book around her own experience and needs.  She doesn’t discuss packing suitcases or traveling on airplanes alone so I don’t know how much she really did move around as a child.  I mean, by some kids’ standards, she probably had a pretty stable environment.  I mean,  a lot can happen inside the silverware drawer in one parent’s house during the week that you are at the other parent’s house.

So, folks, there are studies out there that say that kids who move around a lot during childhood are more stressed out than kids who don’t move around a lot.  Does this sound like something that many kids from divorce go through?  Why can’t the writer and her buds make this mental leap?  How difficult is it really to connect the dots here?  I know, I know, talking about how divorce wrecks the kids is a marketer’s nightmare.

You know, it really doesn’t matter as long as the CDC refuses to add California to their Divorce Statistics.  How can you claim to have any statistics at all about Divorce in the U.S. if you don’t include the most populated state, the State where everyone moves to and divorces a year later in order to find themselves?  The housing in California is so expensive and tight that many kids from Divorce live in the closet in their Mothers’ apartments for the first two years after the divorce.  Is this cozy?  Why yes, it must be.  That’s why Mommy’s going to school to become a shrink.  So she can help others to not feel guilty about making their kids live in the closet too and then if everyone’s doing it it must be right.  Right?