Thursday, October 13, 2011

The mind-bending self-absorption of adults

Don't miss this, from The Deacon's Bench: the Detacho dollhouse so preschoolers can play with divorced parent-dolls who go from happy to sad, from kissing to unable to kiss (due to the amazing power of magnets which can be turned to repel the dolls when Mommy and Daddy are frowning at each other!), and from an intact family unit to new groups of non-related adults and step-children who have to get along together in the newly arranged divorce-houses. Isn't that special?

No word on when the gay "marriage" option with same-sex partners will be available, but I imagine it's coming soon. At present, the biggest issue with the same-sex houses is probably whether there's a separate little apartment for the two daddies to entertain their extra boyfriends or not.

And, of course, there will have to be the "single-parent-by-choice" model, with a group of rotating partners all of whom want to kiss mommy or daddy, but only for a little while, and who don't split up the house when they leave; they just take their own baggage and/or electronics with them when they go.

I'm pretty sick of a culture in which the mind-bending self-absorption of adults who should know better wreaks havoc and suffering on the lives of children. The "Detacho" dollhouse ought to be called "Children's Hell-on-Earth," but then self-indulgent ex-spouses wouldn't buy it in their sick belief that the children will cope just fine with the shattering of the family, would they?


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. I sat staring at that dollhouse this morning for about ten minutes in horror.

As to your last sentence, that "the children will cope just fine," I'm afraid it's worse than that. It's GOOD for the children when parents get divorced now, or are never married, or have them alone by choice, or whatever.

Woe onto them who call evil good, and good evil.

Ann Marie

John E. said...

I'm pretty sick of a culture in which the mind-bending self-absorption of adults who should know better wreaks havoc and suffering on the lives of children.

Again with the dramatics...

My experience as a child of divorced parents was that things in life happen and that is just the way things are.

My life wasn't full of havoc and suffering, I was safe and warm and loved even though my folks didn't live together anymore.

Life isn't all about extremes - either perfect loving two-parent families or a hellish life with a single parent. Most people find that they can chug along even under changed circumstances.

Erin Manning said...

I want to say this delicately, John, because I'm not trying to hurt you personally. But from my perspective what little moral compass you have is seriously messed up--and thus as a poster child for the ecstatic happiness children can share in their parents' divorce you don't really impress me.

In other words, you're sort of proof to me that divorce does hurt kids. You may not see it that way, and I respect that, but from my viewpoint what you've lost in life is enough to make a person really weep for you.

John E. said...

Well Red, that presupposes that had my life had gone differently, I would be living a life more in accordance with what you think of as good.

You are assuming your conclusion that I would have turned out better had things gone otherwise.

For all we know, had my parents not divorced, my life might have been such that I became a serial murderer.

As it did turn out, I'm a self-supporting adult who has never been arrested, pays his taxes on time, and has been married for twelve years to a woman who appears to love me very much.

So while I probably would not have been an ax murderer had my parents not divorced, I would definitely not be the person I am today had they not done so and would not be living the life I'm living now.

And since I like the person I am today and I like the life I'm living now, I would not want it to have been the case that my parents stayed together.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Wow. *shudder*

As a child of divorce, I can say it hurt me a great deal, and there are times now, even fifteen years later that it does. There are still awkward moments at family events (my wedding). Maybe one day I'll write about it. But I can say now divorce is like a little death, with repercussions that can last for generations.

Erin Manning said...

Alisha, your experience matches with that of most of the children of divorce whom I know. Rarely do you meet someone like John who is happy his parents divorced; most of the time, people are devastated, especially if they were young children at the time.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Honestly, I don't know anyone who was happy their parents split. Some weren't as torn up as me, but none ever expressed gladness over the situation. I wasn't even young. I was fourteen when my dad moved out and seventeen when their divorce became final. Altogether, they were married 28 years. It left me with this feeling that you can never really- I mean REALLY- know someone.

My husband is also a child of divorce. He's just realizing now the damage that was done. We both pray regularly for God's grace, mercy and protection for our marriage.

Anyway, I've blabbed on enough...

John E. said...

Rarely do you meet someone like John who is happy his parents divorced

Short answer - given what I know now about them, me, and life in general - yeah, I'm glad they split up.

Longer answer - well Red, the only way my life would have been better had they stayed together would have been for them to be very different people from who they are/were.

So let's make up imaginary stories about what might have been but didn't happen in reality. Since it is best to only change one variable at a time, let's make it so they didn't divorce.

Well, if the behavior was bad enough to prompt a divorce, it - by definition - couldn't have made for a happy home life, right?

So we've got me growing up in an environment where there is behavior that prompted a divorce vs. an environment that for all its other faults, didn't have that going on.

Well, if those are the two choices, then yeah, I'm glad they divorced.

Now - and this part is IMPORTANT - if you want to Disney-fy the story so that behaviors were changed and past transgressions were forgiven and that various bonds were formed differently than they did, and I had a pony, well - sure and by golly, you're right - I would much rather they had stayed together if the choice was between everything being super-perfect and how things turned out.

My guess, having been there at the time and all that, was that between divorce and what was - in my opinion - the most likely other alternate history, then yeah, I'm happy they divorced.

And another thing, we'll never know how things would have been had things been differently - but in reality some people who were living outside my home had to go through some stuff that would have affected me much worse had I been living in the same house with them at the time.

So, yeah, just on the basis that things that were bad would have been a lot worse, I'm happy they divorced.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

My parents stayed married, although I spent a good part of my childhood wondering why they didn't divorce, and hoping my father would get custody if they did. We don't talk about it a whole lot, but I'm on reasonably good terms with my parents. As such things go, I wasn't nearly as bad off as many. They didn't throw furniture at each other, and they both have their positive points, some of which I have inherited or absorbed. They've mellowed a bit toward each other too. But they do worry their grandchildren sometimes.

Where does all this lead? John is right that nothing is perfect in this world, and he may well be right that given who his parents were and how they got along, divorce was the best option.

Does that mean I appreciate this Detacho doll house? No. Maybe the moral is that adults should stop projecting their own angst onto children's toys. I bet John would agree with that.

Anonymous said...

"maybe the moral is that adults should stop projecting their own angst onto children's stories". LOL. Isn't that the truth!

I agree with some of what John E says, I mean sometimes bad stuff happens and we have to deal with it and move on and try to make the best of things. Sometimes the only choice really is the lesser of two 'not so good' choices. I mean life happens, stuff happens. Sometimes bad things happen to people and they have to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move forward. Do I wish that every child grows up in a loving home with two parents, a mom and a dad, both fully engaged in doing everything they can to protect their delicate little self esteems? Life just does not work that way and we probably would not have any artists!
Yes, divorce is a sad and horrible thing. So is death. We are sinners. Life is messy. With Gods help, we are all trying to make sense of this mess. Mel

John E. said...

Siarlys: Maybe the moral is that adults should stop projecting their own angst onto children's toys. I bet John would agree with that.

Goodness gracious, yes!

L. said...

In our house, we had a wooden nativity creche with two Joseph's -- Jesus had two daddies! No, we didn't plan it that way -- the manufacturer just gave us the extra person piece by mistake. (I donated the set to my kids' school when we left, and I hear it's still on display there every year.)

The dollhouse seems like a great idea to me -- I know child psychologists who use dolls to help tramautized children act out their trauma through playing. Sometimes children have trouble talking about feelings. I would think a dollhouse like this would be perfect for this.

Dollhouses like this don't cause divorce/family trauma anymore than an extra Joseph in the box doesn't cause Jesus to have two daddies. It's an object, that's all. These things have no meaning beyond what we impart to them.

Anonymous said...

There has always been separation and and abandonment. Always. However, it was always treated as a tragedy, a sad thing to happen to a family. A scandal really.

Now it's been given a face-lift and now it is good! Kids know divorce is not good, let's stop trying to convince them of that. Maybe it's good for the parents who get to now to fulfill themselves, but it is not good for the children.

And this tired argument that your parents were divorced and you turned out ok is just nuts. My parents were divorced too, and yes, I am ok now, DESPITE the divorce. Not because of the divorce. Sure, some children are quite resilient, it's amazing what they can tolerate.

Hey, if this dollhouse helps a kid work out their issues regarding their parents' divorce, great. But let's remember what that is, a kid working out their issues. I'm betting that sales of traditional pink dollhouses with one mommy, one daddy and three kids won't be going down anytime soon.

Ann Marie

John E. said...

And this tired argument that your parents were divorced and you turned out ok is just nuts.

Well then would you agree that the assertion that divorce necessarily condemns a child to a 'Hell-on-Earth' is also just nuts?

Anonymous said...

Dear John E.

No, I would agree with that statement. But again, this is nothing new. As I wrote in my first sentence, there has always been separation and abandonment, but it was always treated for what it was, a tragedy.

Divorce has gotten much worse for kids, even since I was a kid. Joint custody, kids having to have "two homes", being shuttled back and forth, three nights here, three nights there, parents re-coupling, the nightmare of family court. It was the good old days of divorce when the dad just left the mom in the house and visited on the weekends. Now it truly is a horror, pretty darn close to hell-on-earth. It's a system that only cares about what is "fair" to the parents, that is it.

One more point. I don't think that speaking truth to the reality of divorce means that you hate divorced people. I don't hate my parents. They are flawed sinners, just like me. But even they are honest enough with themselves to know that their divorce was a very bad thing in my life.

Anyhow, I will stop now, or I will need my own blog soon. Take care.

Ann Marie

John E. said...

One more point. I don't think that speaking truth to the reality of divorce means that you hate divorced people.

Well that is a nice entree to a story I wanted to work into this post, so here goes.

Whenever one makes claims about "children of divorce" one is not making statements that are true for everyone in that category, but rather are just generalizations that apply to some, but not all.

Well, back in the day, probably around the mid-90's, there was a Houston radio host by the name of Jon Matthews who talked of many things, but on one particular day that I was listening, he was talking about how statistics showed that 'children of divorce' were more likely to drop out of school, get in trouble with the law, etc., etc.

So I gave him a call after the show to let him know that I had graduated from a respected Houston university, never been in trouble with the law, was self-supporting, etc.

He cut me of pretty quick, letting me know that he didn't do that sort of discussion off-air since he wasn't getting paid for it and that was that for a few years.

Fast forward to 2004, Mr. Radio Social Critic finds himself convicted of indecent exposure for showing his naughty bits to an 11 year old neighbor girl and gets probation.

Fast forward to 2007, Mr. Now ex-Radio Social Critic finds himself sentenced to three years in prison because he broke the conditions of his probation.

He's now on the Texas Sex Offenders list.

L. said...

John E., what was the point of your (ahem!) tasteful and relevant little story? Sounds like the guy had horrible judgement and perverse inclinations, but there are plenty of rabid marriage supporters who don't.

I'm not a child of divorce myself. My parents recently celebrated 46 years of holy Catholic matrimony.

But what I am is, a woman who refuses to follow her husband on his overseas transfers, as "good" wives are expected to do -- he had to live apart from me and kids for over a year, and we're facing an even longer stretch with his next transfer. Some of the same criticisms of divorcees have been leveled at me: that my self-indulgent preference to be a temporary "single-parent-by-choice" shows " mind-bending self-absorption," and that splitting up the family, even temporarily, wreaks havoc and suffering on the lives of children -- and they say I need to just suck it up and follow him, wherever he goes.

And similarly, I say, the children will cope just fine.

Similar to divorce, the best choice depends on the circumstances, and sometimes the price of keeping the family intact is too high to pay.

Geoff G. said...

L., if I may interject, I think the point of the story is twofold:

First of all, there's the broad point that making sweeping generalizations (divorce is always bad for the kids!) isn't a good idea. It turns out that the radio talk show host in question had a wife and two kids.

I don't know what the wife ended up doing, but don't you think divorce just might have been the better option here? Or do you honestly think the kids would be better off having a guy like that for a parent?

As others have said, you have to look at the circumstances. Are there self-obsessed adults who decide to divorce for selfish reasons and who end up hurting their children in the process? Sure. But not every divorce is like that. And you do a disservice to everyone involved, including the children in the family if you don't make allowances for the cases where divorce really is the best thing.

Second lesson I take from all this: I am seriously suspicious of people who spout off about their superior morality (e.g. "what little moral compass you have is seriously messed up"). Not argue over moral questions; that's a fine and honorable pastime with very longstanding roots. But simply assert that their morality is best and you're an idiot or damaged and defective in some way (e.g. "you're sort of proof to me that divorce does hurt kids") if you don't agree.

This guy is proof (as if we needed more) that many people who blare their moral values in this way are often overcompensating.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

In a broad sense, we might say that there are two kinds of divorces:

1) Divorces that break up what was, for the children, a happy and supportive home, when parents' own selfish desires lead them to want something different.

2) Divorces that break up what was, for the children, a living daily nightmare, because the parents' exercised their selfish desires in a very violent way in front of the kids, or one parent did so.

In the former case, everything Erin and Ann Marie has been saying would be about right.

In the latter case, everything John has been saying would be about right.

I bet there are a few other ways to describe some (not all) divorces. Some would lead to the conclusion that divorce is a good thing, some that it wreaks havoc on the lives of all concerned.

I would agree that our culture has been undervaluing marriage, and immersing individual men and women with the message "If the road gets rough, cut loose, its no big deal." Marriage should be taken seriously, and nobody should enter into it without expecting some rough times, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer. It is a commitment to stay with it and make it work.

But, that isn't always possible, or one partner may totally sabotage the other partner's sincere commitment. In that case, divorce may be the most merciful option. It is better to be thrown into the ocean with a millstone around one's neck than to continue to inflict a really destructive marriage on these precious little ones.

Geoff G. said...

Or shorter answer: avoid sweeping generalizations and judge each case on its merits.

Pete said...

Roman Catholics cannot reasonably hold that civil divorce is always wrong when it is a requirement for an annulment.

My parents divorced and it wass the best thing for most of my family. My mother flowered in her freedom.

JD Parker said...

the point of John E's story is a pretty typical outlook in modern society: Hypocrisy Is the Only Sin. more specifically: anyone who promulgates a specific moral code that i don't agree with is secretly a rotten, disingenuous human being on the inside.

people really don't seem to be allowed to speak in generalities these days...anytime you want to claim something is a net negative for society, someone's gotta pipe up with their own personal story that supposedly disproves it.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

JD Parker, I seldom agree 100% with John E, but you are flailing at a classic straw man. John did not say that Hypocrisy is the only sin. Would you care to deny that it is a sin at all?

I must remind you of the classic generalization, all generalizations are invalid, including this one.

American principles of limited government are based on the understanding that more often than not, when someone claims that X is a net negative for society, someone WILL have a personal story that disproves it.

That is why we reserve a private sphere for the individual, free of government intrusion. If the harm of erroneously denying the general principle falls only on the individuals involved, then the claim of a "net negative for society" is moot. If there is a net negative, not only for the abstraction of "society" but for the uninvolved individuals in that society, then general regulations prevail. My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins, and vice versa.

Families and children of course straddle that line. The child is an individual distinct from the parents. (We all agree on that after birth, although we quibble about the preceding nine months). But, there is both a moral and a constitutional liberty for parents to direct the upbringing of their children. Devout Roman Catholics may well be thankful for that, in today's increasingly secular society.

rdcobb said...

I think JD makes a point about generalities and majorities opinions being taboo. To state facts supported by numerous studies that most children would thrive best raised in a two-parent home, with parents of opposite sexes, in which one parent (usually the mother) stays home during infancy and early childhood is considered hateful, intolerant, homophobic, and sexist.

Everything should be tailored to the minority opinion or the exception of the rule. Because 2% of parents over-dose their infant on Dimetapp, the other 98% can no longer give it to their sick kid. Because 1% of people in the world have gender identity issues, all school kids need to be taught to question their gender identity in order to make them more tolerant.
Because John E. thinks it was great that his parents got divorced, condemning divorce is "dramatic".

I think this doll house is great for therapists/social workers to use and should totally be in a professional catalog. It's a sad commentary when it's for mainstream sale.

I was watching the new George Harrison documentary the other night. George was a serial cheater on both of his wives, but his second wife stuck around in spite of it. Someone asked her what the secret was to a long marriage. Olivia replied, "You don't get divorced."

Siarlys Jenkins said...

rdcobb offers good arguments for a balanced, nuanced, restrained, approach to what is "social" and what is "individual," although I'm not sure if that he what he meant.

Placing children (who are in need of, and available for, placement) is appropriate for a general, social standard, because we don't know how they individually will turn out. What is especially irrelevant about the hurt feelings of the would-be adoptive gay parents is that the best interests of the child are either ignored, or some fatuous claims that "it doesn't matter" are offered to shove the issue aside.

I would not, if I ran the zoo, take away Dimmetapp from all parents because 2% overdose with it. That is a case of a SOCIAL standard being imposed on EVERYONE because SOME people are incompetent. I don't know the history of this medication, never having used it, but that's how I would look at what rd has offered here.

Ditto on the gender identity issues. I would let that be a more individual matter RATHER THAN trying to impose a one size fits all social standard. But there has to be a bit of wiggle room for the minorities. If we impose the notion that "all people are heterosexual, except perverts," then those children who do find themselves "feeling gay" will grow up to demand that we teach ALL children how normal it is to be gay.

As for divorce, that's Olivia's choice. Even in the good old days, flagrant infidelity was generally recognized as one of the few legitimate grounds for divorce. Come to think of it, divorce is one situation where we should listen more to the individual preferences of the children, RATHER THAN set general orders of priority for which parent gets how much of what status. If Johnnie and Mary want to live with daddy and only visit mommy every other week-end, the judge should listen and carefully consider that, rather than be bound by a statute that allocates the kids as "marital property."

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I'm pretty sick of a culture in which the mind-bending self-absorption of adults who should know better wreaks havoc and suffering on the lives of children.

Congratulations, Erin! You just accurately described those dioceses in which clerical sex-abuse either was ignored or mollycoddled. You also just described a Church "bureaucrazy" that cares more about protecting its secular interests and inherent sense of entitlement than about children or God.

You really should be more careful with what you support emphatically and what you're "sick of," my dear.

6xblessd said...

Well, add me to the list of those who experienced nothing but relief when their parents divorced. I don't think it is all that unusual for children of parents who hated each other and created a house of stress and fear to feel that way.

I am now happily married (20 years to my best friend and soulmate) with six children of my own. The best lessons I ever learned from my parents were how NOT to do things. The older I get, the more I understand the value of what they taught me.

JD Parker said...

i probably should've added, it's not that i don't think divorce in certain instances could lead to a better future for the kids. you can't peer into an alternate timeline and say 100% that it was a bad thing in a certain instance. a couple could stick it out and try to make things better, and it could just be a continual downward spiral depending on the circumstance.

it's more just that i don't think divorce should be seen as "a good thing" even in the case of it helping those involved. even if you take the most abusive environment where separation is perfectly justified, it's still sad that it came to that point, regardless of who's at fault.

of course i don't think anyone is really arguing otherwise. but there's a thin line between arguing for divorce in the worst circumstances and eventually ending up with a blanket nonjudgmental attitude toward everyone who divorces, as we see with a lot of previously taboo practices.

JD Parker said...

also noticed another one of the commenters above did another Hypocrisy Is the Only Sin (HIOS? i'll have to trademark this somehow) post. so Catholics aren't allowed to make any more moral judgments on anything until they leave the church? got it.

of course, you probably don't think there's anything wrong with what's being criticized in the original why not just say that.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

JD, I will totally agree that divorce should not be seen as a "good thing." Our culture leans far too much on the notion that "if it's legal, it's good, so leave me alone." The law is not a fine-tuned instrument that can make reliable judgement about WHETHER divorce is good in any given situation, so I would let people make their own judgement. But law aside, the general culture would be much healthier if it generated the message "divorce is not a good thing, it is a last resort when things to terribly wrong." The church could certainly help with that.

Joseph, I don't want to be harsh, because you spoke well of me last time we met here, but Erin has a pretty consistent record of condemning priestly pedophilia. She doesn't believe that it it inherently characteristic of the Catholic priesthood. On that she may be right, or wrong, or not entirely right, but she does condemn the act, consistently.