Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One teen's question

From the Detroit News:

(I haven't visited the site mentioned below yet, so I can't vouch for it.)

Bill Sears endured a childhood trauma that has been, and will be, faced by millions. He survived the death of his parents' marriage. He had to pick sides, counsel his parents, and learn how to interpret his feelings. Pretty heavy stuff for a little kid.

Now, nine years later, Bill is as close to an expert on these kinds of things as a 16-year-old can be. And he's willing to help anyone -- parent or kid -- he can.

A voracious reader and researcher, Bill studied divorce law to learn what rights children have. Just as important, he listened -- to friends at first, then to friends of friends, and now to just about anyone. He started, the self-described "Internet's Best Divorce Site for Kids by a Kid." It's a blog, a forum, and a news portal for information on parenting.

"I saw what I had gone through, and I didn't think it was right. No kid should go through this," Bill said. "It took a brutal emotional toll on me. I was 7 or 8 and they split. It was a metaphorical tug of war and I just want to say: Are you aware, parents?"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mission Possible

Simon Baker (not the actor) on his book, How To Be A Great Divorced Dad:

"In the press all you hear about divorced dads is the sad man in the fast-food restaurant with his kids or the bloke trying to avoid maintenance payments but I think there is a huge number of men out there who have fantastic relationships with their children after divorce," he says. "I thought it was very important that men understood that that was possible." But the key here for Baker is the word "possible" - not "easy".

..."It shouldn't be a case of 'I'm free from my wife now so I'm going to go out and buy a guitar and the biggest stereo ever because now I can kick back'," he says. "What you should really be doing is buying a washing machine so your kids have got clean clothes for school."

Hillary's mom, child of divorce

From the Los Angeles Times:

She was only 8 years old.

Her mother had lost custody of her in a divorce. And her father was putting her and her 3-year-old sister on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles -- by themselves, without adult supervision. It took three days to reach their grandparents' home in the San Gabriel Valley. Once there, they would not be made to feel welcome.

The older girl, Dorothy Howell, now 88, is best known as Dorothy Rodham -- the mother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York senator and Democratic presidential candidate.

(Photo from The Washington Post)

Monday, March 17, 2008

No way to tell

From a book review of Graham Swift's novel, Tomorrow:

The parents of 16-year-old twins plan to announce their divorce to the children -- tomorrow. Thus, much of the novel happens the night before, inside the mother's insomniacal mind. (This is not to betray any surprise -- the reader learns of the announcement on page 5.) And yes, Swift is writing from a female point of view.

The story, then, is of the night before tomorrow, as Paula, the wife and mother, replays her married life -- the full story which she would like to tell her children -- while her husband slumbers next to her. Of course, there is no way to tell the children of divorce the whole story, so a wistfulness falls over her recollections. Really, she is telling herself the story of her marriage, and this is the heart of the novel.

The New Yorker panned this novel (see Amazon's editorial reviews) and I'm not rushing out to read it. But I was intrigued by the reviewer's statement above that "of course, there is no way to tell the children of divorce the whole story." I'm sure that's true in the sense that there are things that happen between two people in a marriage--especially one that lasts 16+ years--that no one else is going to fully understand. And I would certainly agree that parents don't need to (and probably shouldn't) trot out every detail of their marriage's failures for their kids' inspection. Still, it troubles me--not that the novelist would depict the mother as feeling this way, but that the reviewer would accept it as absolute truth.

Then again, maybe it just struck me as a vivid contrast to the post I just did on the NPR "This I Believe" essay.

Truth be told

From one of NPR's "This I Believe" essays:

Adults always insist that children be honest, but how many of us are honest with our kids, particularly about the tough stuff: death, sex, corruption, our own failings?

I believe in telling children the truth. I believe this is vital for their understanding of the world, their confidence and the development of their morals and values.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tips from a kid

Vanessa Van Petten has an article on her web site with 4 tips for parents to make life easier on children of divorce -- from someone who's been there:
  1. Get doubles of everything
  2. Make a launching pad
  3. Send out a memo
  4. Find other young people

Friday, March 07, 2008

Laugh on Friday

Here's a little tongue-in-cheek humor from the irreverent blog Stuff White People Like: #66 Divorce

Look at the sets of jobs below

Job Set A
marriage counselor
family therapist

Job Set B
wedding planner
80s DJ

There is basically a large sector of white workers with arts majors, that would otherwise be unemployed were it not for the high rate of divorce. So just like the love of lawyers, getting divorced is a way to give back to the community. Not getting divorced would have same effect as pulling Shell out of Nigeria or call centers out of India. People would be on the street and a civil war would break out.

The list in Job Set A deals with the actual act of divorce. Married couples like to go to lawyers, counselors and therapist before, during, and after a marriage. There really is no need to pay $300 an hour to talk to someone who has read a lot of eastern European authors, but Hollywood has done a great job of popularizing this profession, and as mentioned above, there is a charitable aspect to this as well.

The list in Job Set B deals with weddings. First of all white people love throwing weddings, and if the first wedding did not go according to plan or if a close friend’s wedding had clever invitations, better desert or a samba band, then the act of the divorce serves as gateway to give it another shot. Secondly many white people in their late teens / early 20s make the mistake of taking film or photography in college. Since Hollywood can not employ everyone, the wedding industry is the one field that allows all these poor arts majors to pay for their rent and their first divorce later.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Protecting baby

From an article in the Washington Post: turning the "whatever" generation into hyper-vigilant homebodies.

"We're the first to be raised in day care in record numbers. Forty percent of us were latchkey kids. We were raised on television and Star Wars. We have an abiding fear of being left alone or feeling abandoned, so we will do anything to avoid recreating that in our own children's experience. We're ultra protective," said Susan Gregory Thomas, author of Buy Buy Baby, a book about baby-product marketing.