The perception that children of divorce are spoiled simply as a result of being children of divorce amazes me. Do people really think that or is it just something they say without actually realizing what they are saying? Even one of my favorite bloggers, Avitable recently wrote in a post that children of divorce were spoiled. (Notice the clever comment from Mark about how he didn’t get any of those things when his parents divorced.) And although Avitable’s post is really about his dog and the tone is satirical, it demonstrates how pervasive the perception of us being spoiled is. I assume that the sentiment is perpetuated by people who have never had to personally endure parental divorce in their childhoods. Because as a child of divorce, I can only say this:
Calling a child of divorce ‘spoiled’ for having two homes is like calling an heir ‘lucky’ when their parents die. In both cases, they would prefer what they had to what they got.
Honestly, I have to say that the ‘spoiled’ thing always confused me. Because from my perspective, I never once felt spoiled as a result of my parent’s divorce. Suddenly moving a handful of times didn’t seem like so much fun. Bouncing from home to home and seeing my dad only a couple of times a year wouldn’t have been my first choice. Having my parent’s focus and attention turn inward as they returned to school and dating, while moving on with their lives might have been really great for them but…. Seriously, if that’s what being a spoiled child is, I’d hate to see how all those kids from intact families are slumming it while growing up.
While I was in College, I met a girl who had lost both of her parents and been left a large inheritance. And from where I stood, she seemed to have it all. She had a great car, great clothes and she lived life large. I couldn’t help but think that she was so lucky to have a boatload of money at her disposal along with no parents to be accountable to. But one night after flippantly saying that I wasn’t as lucky as she was, I received a sombre look as she told me that she would gladly trade it all back for more time with her parents. Suddenly she didn’t seem so lucky.
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe for those who’ve never lived through divorce as a child, it all seems great. Maybe they don’t see the pain of it all because they can’t relate, so instead they focus on it’s most superficial aspect. But to a child, that’s exactly what it is. Superficial stuff. Not what’s important. And nothing at all when compared with having your family torn apart. I think that calling a child who had no say in their situation or aftermath ‘spoiled’ is cruel. Because the bottom line is that kids don’t choose divorce and they have absolutely no control over something that affects their lives so wholly. Just like the child who loses a parent.
And you know, some children of divorce are spoiled. But are they spoiled by divorce? NO! They are spoiled by guilt ridden permissive parents, ego boosting competative gifting parents or they are acting out thanks to blind parents who bought into the misconception that co-parenting amicably will magically heal all their wounds. Notice the common denominator. The next time you feel the need to comment about a ‘spoiled’ child of divorce, try a new approach and point the finger of blame where it rightfully lies. Direct your thoughts and comments towards the one who did and continues to make the choices instead of the one who is learning to navigate unbidden choppy waters.
Of course, that’s coming from yet another of those ‘spoiled’ children of divorce.