Chester Bennington committed suicide

Authorities found his body today. He hanged himself.

In October of 2016, I wrote about the song Numb and Bennington as a child of divorce and a victim of sexual abuse:

Numb by Linkin Park: where’s the dad?

He is survived by his wife and six children.

Lord, may your perpetual light shine upon him and may he rest in peace. Amen.

 

Why we can’t use math to understand the child of divorce

I suspect that a lot of people don’t relate to the kids of divorce because they have a wrong formula in their heads. I suspect that the following formula is what most people have in the backs of their minds when they think of the live of a child of divorce:

1/2 + 1/2 = 1

The parenting was cut into two halves. Since two halves make one whole, then what’s the big deal? One-half of a parent plus one-half of a parent should equal one parent. One-half of a family plus one-half of a family should equal one family. It’s just simple arithmetic. This would also explain the “just get over it” rhetoric. People operate under a faulty equation, then assume things about the child of divorce that are untrue.

I was about twelve or so when I consciously understood that my two half-time dads did not equal one dad. I had my dad and my step-dad. If we use math to understand the dynamic, it seems like being with each of them for half-time would be the same as having one whole dad. But it was not. I am not 100% sure how I came to this realization. It may be due to the fact that I was an eye witness to what a full-time dad looked like. My step-dad was a full-time dad to my half-sister. I could see quite clearly that what she had and what I had were two different things.

apple-split-not-public-domain-give-attributionAn apple that is cut into two pieces is no longer an apple. It is two halves of an apple. The apple lost its wholeness, and it is hard to quantify that loss because the math still adds up. But there is a qualitative difference between an apple and two halves of an apple, and simple arithmetic does not capture this difference. This qualitative difference is lost in the discussion.

It does not work to use a simple math equation to quantify the reality for a child of divorce. For the child of divorce, 1/2 + 1/2 < 1.

Image credit: Frank C. Müller

Kids of divorce are like side jobs

As I mentioned before, kids of divorce have a harder time finishing their educations than their counterparts in intact families. I hope you read the article at the link, and the comments too. Very enlightening. My own experience matches what is there.

I have read enough of the research know that researchers are missing something important. Researchers often focus on money, money, money, as if enough money will fix any problem. I’m sure that a lack of money is an issue, so don’t misunderstand me. But money doesn’t overcome one of the most basic problems, which is this:

After splitting up our first families, our parents move on with their lives.

Before the divorce, we were a joint project between the two people who brought us into the world, whose DNA we share. We were like a single, full time job shared by two managers whose lives largely converged. The two managers acted in unison for our good.

After the divorce, our managers acquire new, full time projects, and we become two separate half-time side jobs with two different managers. Rather than having their lives converge in the unified home we share with them, we live in “two homes,” and their lives become more and more divergent as time goes on.

remarriage-diagrams-both-together
Post-divorce: half-time project going in one direction while in mom’s home, then half-time project with a different direction while in dad’s home. Repeat ad infinitum.

The more I think about the project analogy, the more I like it.

The analogy should shed more light on why “two homes” is not what’s best for kids. It is confusing and it pulls us into two different directions. Our parents hate each other so much that they are willing to ignore half of who we are. Divorce judges fail at their job to recognize the injustice of being raised that way and so are complicit in perpetuating it. Practically speaking, it means that our parents are not there for us in so many ways. When they jettisoned our other parent, they jettisoned half of us.

I’m doing my best to shed light on the problem, but I’m just one person who probably comes across like she’s just too angry to take seriously most of the time. It is unfortunate that I have to be a spokesman for this cause, really, because I’m sure others could do it better if they knew what I know. Unfortunately, too few people really want to pay attention to how hard it is to live in our parents’ post-divorce, ever-increasingly divergent worlds.

Maybe we have become very hard-hearted towards unwanted and half-wanted children. Or maybe we always were. Or maybe we’ve participated in some way, feel guilt about it, and instead of alleviating the guilt through sincere repentance and rectification, we justify our actions. Or maybe it’s just very difficult to start a social movement when everybody believes that the definition of freedom means having the State annul our familial obligations at will. Or maybe when we look around, we see so many fractured families that the problem seems too overwhelming.

See also:

Ten education tips for kids of divorce

The social science is clear: kids of divorce have a harder time finishing their educations than their counterparts in intact families. Knowing this, and having lived through it, I have a few tips for anybody in that boat who wants to finish a college degree.

1) Don’t try to do it alone. The very first thing to do is to get embedded with somebody who is absolutely dedicated to helping you finish your education. This is somebody who will be there for you at every step of the process, from beginning to end. They believe in the value of an education and want to help. There are a number of ways this person can be there for you:

  • You can live with them, perhaps for free or for reduced rent as long as you’re a full time student.
  • They can help financially, either by giving you money, paying tuition, buying books, co-signing loan documents, paying rent, helping with groceries, etc.
  • They can help you decide on a major, navigate course descriptions, dealing with difficult professors, and in general help with the administrative side of getting an education.
  • They will be your cheerleader. Believe me, the emotional support that you get from a cheerleader is invaluable. Don’t discount this aspect of somebody’s help.

This person might be one of your parents, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, a cousin, or even a family friend. Stop for a moment and think about it: I bet that you know right now who is dedicated to your education, and who is indifferent. Gravitate to those who are dedicated and stay in touch with them. Remember that they can’t help you if you check out for long periods of time. My best friend helped me a lot, by being a cheerleader, cooking/grocery shopping for me and even driving me to school at times. Look for that person in your life.

2) If you haven’t finished high school, look into getting your GED. I don’t have personal experience here but there are lots of programs, books, etc. Many colleges will want to see a high school diploma or GED. Here’s a Google search for finishing the GED.

3) Bachelor’s vs. vocational/trade. A bachelor’s or an associate’s is another way of saying, “liberal arts education.” Liberal here means “broad.” It is not a political term in this context. A liberal arts education provides a broad base to help you understand the world from many different angles. Have you ever wondered why you need to take so many general education courses, courses that have nothing to do with your major? It’s because the institution wants you to have a liberal arts education, a broad base of knowledge from which to draw upon as you go out into the world.

However, not everybody needs or wants this. There are vocational/trade programs that might be a good choice. For example, I know two young men who attended a welding school in Oklahoma. I also know of a free trade school for young men. I started out as a bookkeeper, which is another way of saying, “vocational accountant,” an accountant who does not have a bachelor’s degree. I did this by taking the accounting course at Universal Accounting back in 1992. This training course is extremely robust, and a great way to go for somebody who wants to be self-employed doing accounting/bookkeeping for small, private firms.

Vocational/trade schools are a legitimate option.

4) Remedial courses are your friend. I realize that taking one or more remedial courses is embarrassing, but try to look on the bright side. These courses help lay the groundwork for future learning. I took two remedial courses. The first one was as an incoming freshman when I was 18. It was an English course, and I didn’t get any regular credit for it even though it was really hard. However, I had to take it in order to be eligible for the required English courses. Then last fall, I took Intermediate Algebra at my local community college. I took this course voluntarily, even though according to my transcript I was eligible for College Algebra (which is not remedial). It had been several years since my last algebra course, and I wanted to review the concepts so that I would do well in College Algebra. I ended up taking the CLEP College Algebra and passing, in part because I prepared by taking Intermediate Algebra.

If your writing skills or arithmetic skills need work, don’t be ashamed to take remedial courses. It is probably not entirely your fault that you need them. You slipped through cracks that were not of your doing. Just take the courses and get them over with. Regardless of the number of remedial courses you take, your degree will have the exact same value as somebody else with the same degree at the same school with the same GPA who didn’t take remedial courses. Don’t let pride hold you back from advancing yourself.

5) Associate’s degrees are valuable. An associate’s degree is a two year degree. It is a worthy pursuit in its own right, or can be a stepping stone to a bachelor’s. According to this news report, people with associate’s degrees earn more money than people with bachelor’s! See? Every little bit helps. So don’t discount the value of an associate’s degree. When I got my associate’s in 2012, it was very gratifying even though it was just a stepping stone.

6) Consider a state school that caters to working adults. If you work full time and have some credits already, consider one of these state schools: Thomas Edison State University and Charter Oak State College. Both of these are non-profit, state schools. There is also a non-profit, private school called Excelsior College, and it also focuses on working adults. None of them are “degree mills.” A “degree mill” is typically a private, for-profit school that lacks regional accreditation.

7) Get help online. I found a great forum that is dedicated to helping people finish their degrees. Go here to check it out: DegreeForum.net There are a lot of people there who understand the ins and outs of finishing a degree. There’s a section for the schools I mentioned above, a section for grad school, a section for those in the military, and other sections.

8) Stay on one catalog. I found this out the hard way. When you enroll, you are on something called a catalog. This is a certain set of requirements that you have to do in order to graduate. Colleges and universities tweak these requirements every year. If you drop out then re-enroll at a later time, you lose the catalog that you were on and you go onto a new catalog. This means that there is a new set of requirements to graduate. You may have to take additional courses, and/or courses you already took might not apply to your degree anymore. Every time you drop out then re-enroll, you’ve not only lost the time in between, you may lose courses you already took. Avoid that waste. Stay on one catalog by not dropping out.

9) Take advantage of CLEP and DSST exams. These exams are fully accredited, and are accepted by many schools. For example, California State University accepts them. They are cheaper and faster than taking courses. Do as many as you can, and do them as soon as you can. For example, if you just graduated from high school and did well in math, take the CLEP math exams starting with CLEP College Mathematics and working your way up from there. Some schools don’t accept them, for example, the University of California does not accept them. But that’s OK. Your primary objective should be to finish something. The actual school is a secondary concern. See #10. Links to CLEP and DSST exams. Talk to an academic adviser to make sure these are best for you.

10) For kids of divorce, the best degree is the one you finish. It is better to finish a communications degree at a state school, than it is to pine for a mathematics degree from Harvard. You already have enough working against you–remember the social science? We are not crazy to experience it as harder, because it is harder. Pick the easiest route, that is regionally accredited (very important), then finish it with the highest GPA that you can.

Bonus tips:

11) Choose an RA school. Make sure the school you choose is RA (regionally accredited). Don’t pick a school claiming any other kind of accreditation. Choosing a regionally accredited school leaves the door open for you to attend grad school. Non-regionally accredited schools are often, though not always, degree mills, and grad schools won’t accept your degree unless it is from an RA school. I’ve also seen some job postings that specifically ask for applicants who have degrees from RA schools.

12) Disability services. If you have any kind of disability, use the disability services/accommodations at your school. Similar to #4, don’t let pride get in the way of getting the assistance you need to finish your degree. Your degree will have the same value as somebody else who did not need disability services.

I am living proof that it is never too late. I started right out of high school in 1984 and graduated in September 2016 with a degree in accounting. You can do it too! If you always wanted a degree but struggled, I hope these tips help. You deserve to pursue your dream!

The holidays are hard

The holidays: that time of year when my heart feels like it’s going through a meat grinder. All the divisions get magnified and concentrated. It’s been this way since I was a child. If I was rich, I’d take an annual cruise from mid-November until after the New Year just to escape it all, and bring any family member with me who would want to go.

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas brings up feelings of dread, without fail. The only thing I ever really wanted, I never got. All I wanted was for my family to be together. MY FAMILY. The “just get over it” rhetoric never worked for me. Maybe it should have, but it didn’t because believe me, I tried. It was, however, very effective at getting me to shut up and ignore how I really felt. That’s not healthy at all.

I am not looking forward to these holidays. They are like a magnifying glass as to how dismembered and shattered my family is and always has been. It never stops hurting and the holidays make it worse.

If this makes you feel uncomfortable, then I’d ask you to look inside yourself and think about why that may be. Is there a child of divorce in your life that you’ve been overlooking? Does a child in your life who has to give up their unified home so that you can feel comfortable? Does a child in your life have to pretend that half of themselves does not exist so that you get to have the experience of being a parent? Is there a child in your life who acts like all is well, yet after reading my blog you have reason to believe otherwise? What incentives does the child in your life have to telling the truth about how things really are? If the child in your life was honest, and if that honesty rocked the world you created for yourself, would you get angry?

“Sexual liberation” is a fraud

Somebody left a thoughtful comment on a recent post. I wrote a comment but it got too long, so decided to make it into its own post.

Yes, I am probably dealing with survivor’s guilt. Part of the problem in my case was that the “kids are resilient” rhetoric, that has been promoted by professionals for decades, meant that I had literally zero assistance in getting through a number of extraordinarily difficult circumstances related to my family structure. To then learn later in life that I was almost aborted was sort of like a strange form of icing in the cake, it fit the rest of the story in a weird sort of way.

I now need to be free to grieve all of that, and do so in my own time and in my own way. “Kids are resilient” blocked my ability to grieve, not only because it stunted my own mental and emotional processes, but it meant and continues to mean that people around me are, generally, very unsupportive. At least until I explain things to them. At first, they don’t get it because all of the professionals told them that I should be OK. Well, the professionals were wrong. They were promoting an agenda that I believe actually harmed a lot of people.

This blog is an outlet for me to record my thoughts for my children. But I also hope to do something else: there are plenty of blogs and websites telling people that kids are OK after divorce, that abortion is OK, that remarriage is OK, that porn isn’t harmful, that pot is OK, etc. There needs to be a counter balance to that, a first person account of what it was like for a child to live under the “sexual liberation” ideology. That’s me, to a tee. My parents went along with the new “liberation” ideology, which meant that there is at least one child who had no sense of family because of it, one child who was constantly told who her family should be, then should not be, then should be, then should not be AND ON AND ON. This led to me being exposed to a lot of things that were confusing, painful and contradictory. I was supposed to be “resilient,” so I kept my mouth shut and coped as best I could, FEELING VERY ALONE. And not only feeling alone, but actually being alone in that place. Put another way: “sexual liberation” meant that I was the lone member of a “family,” which makes no sense if you haven’t lived it, but that’s how it was. I now see that “liberation” for the fraud that it is. I’m going to educate my kids about it, and I hope my efforts will help other people as well.

What is really mind blowing for people is that I was never sexually molested, and I know that my parents loved me in their own way. I was never hungry, always had clean clothes to wear, attended excellent schools, was well-liked by my teachers, got good grades for the most part, etc. They really didn’t think that I needed my own permanent family, and I blame:

  • the professionals
  • liberal religious leaders
  • politicians
  • the media

The people in power imagined that they could keep all of the benefits of the socially conservative family structure (a permanent triad of father, mother and children) while at the same time denigrating it, eroding it legally, and now officially throwing it away at the policy level.

“Intact family for me but not for thee,” that’s what I hear from the elites. Their hypocrisy disgusts me.

Testimonial: The Truth about Blended Families

“When the first major family conflict occurs, the true colors of where loyalties lie are shown. Suddenly, the family that seemed all loving and incredibly inseparable becomes a fun-size cold war replica. With the superpowers (the parents) solidifying their ideologies onto their allied nations (their biological children) all while attempting to uphold their pretentious diplomatic dealings with each other…”

Read the whole thing here:

The Truth About Blended Families

Understanding the “blended family” dynamic with diagrams

About four years ago I stumbled across a book called, Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work, by Dan Roam. It sounded good so I bought one for my Kindle. This is the book that gave me confidence to start drawing what I saw in order to share it with others. So if you’re ever having trouble making your point, about anything at all, check out the book. It will give you ideas for how to make it in a new way.

I just wanted to give the book a shout out, since it has helped me.

Here is a diagram I just drew that sheds light on the post from the yesterday.

blended-family-eight-parents

The blue circle represents the “blended family” from yesterday. As you can see, there might be quite a few other people who are exerting pressure and influence on that family. And this is just one configuration–others are possible.

Let’s locate our author from yesterday. She’s inside the red circle:

blended-family-eight-parents-author-from-yesterday

Now we can see that her dad and her mom are divorced, and her dad is married to her step mom. Let’s locate her step sisters. They are across from her in the green circle:

blended-family-eight-parents-step-sisters

From their perspective, we can see that their mom is divorced from their dad, and she is married to their step dad.

Let me make it clear that regarding the post from yesterday, I have no information other than what she shared. I don’t know what went on there. I don’t know if the non-resident parents in her life remarried. I’m just using it as an opportunity to show how diagrams can shed light on these situations.

Look at all that chaos. Even if we were to redraw it so that the non-resident parents never remarry, that’s a lot of chaos. Their remarriages only add to it, and not just for them but for the new step siblings.

She described her step-sisters in a pretty negative light. I imagined myself as her step-sister, and I could relate to the way she described all of them. I resented that others were spending more time with my dad than I was; that he was doing fun and interesting things with them that he wasn’t doing with me because I wasn’t there full time; that I felt like an outsider in my dad’s home, and on and on and on. I can’t help but wonder if there were other things going on in her step-sisters lives that made them act that way.

I also think that all of us, kids and adults, are blinded by “kids are resilient” and “they just get over it,” two false ideas that are completely accepted as true. As long as people are being guided by those false ideas, they’re going to assume things about kids in those arrangements that may not be true, or may be only a partial truth.

Let’s consider something else: this diagram shows how a divorced parent on the far left side can exert an influence across the entire diagram, even to step siblings on the far right side. Let’s say, for example, that the mom on the far left is an alcoholic. This influences her children, who in turn influence their dad and their step siblings, who in turn influence those parents and step siblings, and so on. The effect reminds me of how longitudinal waves travel. This explains why kids feel stretched between their parents, but also like a buffer between them. I may have to draw a new diagram to show this effect. I drew it the way I did to show how triads get fractured in order to accommodate adult sexual liberty.

Divorce and remarriage are a mess for the kids. Divorce is bad enough, but remarriages are truly chaotic for kids. I’ve previously described it as torture and I hope this post sheds more light on that characterization.

One Ph.D. gets it: “Children who are bounced from home to home have no true home”

Just found this, from SteamboatToday.com. It is a fictional account of what it is like to live as a child of divorce, by Chris Drake, Ph.D.:

…After going back and forth from Dad’s house to Mom’s house, I began to feel like I had no real home. I had trouble knowing where my stuff for school and sports was. It seemed like I had to make all the changes, even though I hadn’t divorced my parents. Why couldn’t they let me stay in one house and they move in and out for a week at a time?

No one asked me if my mom or dad spent more time with me before the divorce. No one asked me how I felt toward each of them and how much I trusted each of my parents. No one asked me if I’d feel better living more with my mom or my dad. No one asked me if I even felt safe. The judge decided how and where I would live for the rest of my childhood.

…Children who are bounced from home to home have no true home…

Thank you, Dr. Drake. Read the whole thing here.

Foo Fighters’ anthem for the kids of divorce

The Pretender by the Foo Fighters might make a good anthem for the kids of divorce. Not only are the lyrics great, but the imagery of the menacing cops reminds me of how in divorce, the state invades the home to destroy families without anybody doing anything wrong at the invitation of one spouse. Seriously–a spouse who doesn’t want a divorce could go to jail for resisting. Divorces are enforced by the government 100% of the time, even if you did nothing wrong. The state takes sides against legally innocent spouses in every case, by design.  And if you’re the child, doctors will drug you to get you to go to along with the re-education program of denying that your first family matters. As far as this video is concerned, we just need to add a cadre of PhDs in the background claiming that what the cops are doing is OK because they can clean up the mess after it’s all over… for a cut of the marital assets.

Lyrics available here.