Thursday, April 02, 2009

Second chances?

Recently, issues that provide insights in the "demise of marriage" have come across my screen and I felt that these topics need to be addressed.

1) Married, With ADHD: Relationships Suffer Under Stress of Raising Child With Disorder, Study Finds - Washington Post, March 03, 2009
While 12.6 percent of the parents of children without ADHD were divorced by the time the children were 8 years old, the figure was 22.7 percent for parents of kids with ADHD. Couples with ADHD kids also tended to reach the point of divorce or separation faster.

"We have known for a long time that kids can be stressful for their parents. What we show is they can be really stressful and can lead to marital dissatisfaction and divorce," said Pelham, who works at the State University of New York at Buffalo."
Well isn't this unPC? Hardly surprising of course but common sense pronouncements such as this are often resisted if not ignored until proven by a "scientific study" (which btw I am not even sure the above referenced report is - as I have not studied it, I just depended upon the above article - which could be very dangerous!)

However I would add another point - what if these problems were not "of your own making" (so to speak) but are with the children of your second "blended family" (as they are so delicately called these days). That means the step-kids.

Then you are looking at a very complex interaction with additional overlays of dynamics to deal with - the ex-husband, his behaviour to your parenting of his children (full or part-time) as well as host of other issues related to your "spouse" and her relationship to the ex. Then - of course - there is the dynamic's of the relationship with your ex and your own child and parenting styles/standards.

This takes alot of intestinal fortitude. I know because I attempted it - and failed. All I can say is that it is no wonder 2nd family's have a higehr fail rate.

2) Marriage: a failing institution by Marc H. Rudov, Men's News Daily - 27 March 2009
Why else would men illogically get married despite knowing that wives bring 70% of divorces and get child custody and alimony in 90% of cases?

Marriage is a failing institution. For the first time in US history, across all ethnic groups, the majority of women are unmarried and 40% of babies are born to unwed mothers. The judicial reason is quite simple: women know that, most of the time, they'll beat men in matters of alimony, child custody, and child support.

Rewarding failure is self-fulfilling.

Compounding the judicial factor is a specific societal shift: anything-goes America now celebrates unwed mothers. When unwed teen Jamie Lee Spears (Britney's sister) became pregnant, her picture appeared on the cover of People magazine. On Oscar Night of 2009, Barbara Walters asked actress Anne Hathaway about marriage. The 26-year-old Hathaway selfishly expressed a desire to become a mom but not a wife. This narcissistic attitude is now the rule, not the exception.

When I was a lad, the dream of every girl was to get married and every man to "settle down" to become a family man with a career. In fact, it was common for any man with a girlfriend to get matrimonial pressure, from friends and family, with this gem: When are you going to make an honest woman of her? The implication being that she was dishonest in having sex until he saved her through marriage.

Marriage is important for the stability of society and for the healthy raising of children, but now tends to be a failing institution that brings more pain than stability. For proof, look at the familial dysfunction around you — in homes, schools, TV shows, movies, the Internet, shopping malls, and family courts.

You can't have it both ways — even though Anne Hathaway, like many women today, thinks she can. Single people shouldn't have children. Children aren't puppies, acquired on a whim to mitigate loneliness or boost the ego.

Children need two married, loving parents raising them together. Singlehood is a life of many baskets, marriage a life of one — with both spouses weaving the same wicker.

There is no hybrid. Marriage requires a lifestyle change that most people, in all honesty, don't want — the all-in-one-basket lifestyle — and that's why it's failing.
Enough said.

3) Strong fathers, stable families best defence for society's ills. The Record (Western Australia) - 25 March 2009
Archbishop Barry Hickey re-emphasises the fundamental link between the state of marriage, fatherhood, and burgeoning social problems.

“Tougher laws and more prison sentences might have their place, but if we want to understand why our society has become so violent we must look at the state of marriage and family,” he said.

"In 1993, when there was great concern about crime, Dr Alan Tapper, of Edith Cowan University, published the facts and figures to support his statement, ‘family breakdown in the form of divorce and separation is the main cause of the crime wave’.

"In 1995, Australian studies with adequate samples have shown parental divorce to be a risk factor for a wide range of social and psychological problems in adolescence and adulthood, including poor academic achievement, low self-esteem, psychological distress, delinquency and recidivism, substance use and abuse, sexual precocity, adult criminal offending, depression and suicidal behaviour.’

A longitudinal study of 512 Australian children, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology in 1997, concluded: ‘The relationship between cohabitation and delinquency is beyond contention: children of cohabiting couples are more likely to be found among offenders (and recidivists) than children of married couples.

Parents have a unique relationship with one another and with their children. It is rightly said of married couples that the two become one.

“The second reason is that divorce too often results in the absence of the father from the family. This seriously impairs the ability of many children to grow into their own social relationships and ultimately their own successful marriages."

“A father’s shows love for his wife, the mother of his children, [and this] is fundamental to his children growing up with the secure knowledge that they, too, are lovable."

“It is vital that the [such displays provide] education of boys and young men should lead them to understand the importance of fidelity to their essential role in marriage
and family."

“Both young men and young women should be warned that cohabitation seriously effects their ability to establish lasting marriages.

4) Welsh concern over absent father stats - BBC March 2009
One in four children in Wales have no contact with their biological father, a children's charity suggests.

"The research indicates that for children growing up in Wales having a positive relationship with your father is just as important as having a positive relationship with your mother.

"We need to level the playing field and include fathers for the sake of all our children."

The statistics were based on 17,933 questionnaires collected from young people in Years 7 to 11 who attended schools in four local authority areas in Wales during the 2004-05 school year.

The sample included 3465 questionnaires completed by 15 year olds.

The Results:

- Children living with their father who feel close to him - 86%

- Children not living with their father who still feel close to him - 47%

- Boys who feel close to their father - 79%

- Girls who feel close to their father - 69%

- 15-year-olds who have tried cannabis - 28%

- 15-year-olds close to their father who had tried cannabis - 24%

- 15-year-olds not close to their father who had tried cannabis - 39%

Source: Growing up with Dad, Catch 22
5) ACODS = Adult children of divorce. 'Dad was crying on one shoulder and mum on the other' The Guardian, 14 March 2009
"Take it on the chin, you're a grown-up."

People don't even have to speak the words for Craig Peters, 28, to know that's what they're thinking when he tells them his mum and dad are getting divorced. "If you're an adult when your parents split up, you're expected to take it in your stride, but I think it can be more damaging than when you're a child.

You start to question all your childhood memories.

You find your parents confiding in you and leaning on you in a way that they wouldn't have when you were a child. And I've had guilt to contend with too - my parents say they only stayed together all those years because of me.

For Craig, the sense of loss was overwhelming.

"I've been surprised by how upset I've been, because at 28 you would assume you'd be past it and because I know that the divorce is the right thing for my parents. But it feels as though it's not just they who are separating, but us as a family.

All that togetherness that I've taken for granted for nearly three decades has disappeared. It's very upsetting.

"I looked at my parents' marriage idealistically. They seemed to get on well and I had a great childhood," says Russell Hawkins, 26. "When they split up 18 months ago, it's as as if my whole world suddenly had a big crack in it. I'm not saying it's easy, but if you're a child you adapt to things, whereas for 26 years I'd grown up with my parents' relationship as a constant and a rock. It's been a massive shock."

Paula Hall, counsellor and author of "How to Have a Healthy Divorce", says that by being forced to question what they thought was ideal, or at least constant, many Acods start questioning all sorts of other things they've taken for granted, including their own relationships. "It's that sense of: 'Oh my goodness, is nothing permanent?' And: 'If my childhood wasn't what I thought it was, what else should I question?' We need more research into this unexamined group."

Rachel Cox, 32, says her parents' divorce was devastating. "They lost their 'deity status', which is quite destabilising and makes you feel quite alone."

One day, when we were both grown-up, my sister discovered my mum was having an affair. She and I decided to give our mum a chance to tell our dad or we'd tell him ourselves, which is what we wound up doing. It got messy because she started trying to turn him against us, saying we were victimising her. When she opened up to us, she said the breakdown of the marriage wasn't about the affair, it was because she felt she'd had no real life, having given up a good job on marriage. Without me and my sister living at home, she started to feel more and more worthless."

Lee Borden, a lawyer and divorce mediator, finds that older people who go through divorce are often so desperate for help, reassurance and validation that they lose all sense of appropriate boundaries. Lee says that, all too often, he sees one spouse "moving quickly and shamelessly to line up allies among the adultchildren, telling them all the transgressions of the other parent throughout a lengthy marriage".

Laura also had to manage her children's anxieties about their grandparents' splitting up. "Explaining it was hard. My daughter said: 'Will you and Daddy get divorced, too, then?' We're this middle generation that has to deal with our own emotions and our children's."

But there are positives. Laura says that she has become close to her father for the first time: "Before, I never saw my dad without my mum, but since the split, he and I have spent time talking and getting to know each other. That's been really nice."

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