According to research conducted and compiled by Tim Kasser, author of The High Price of Materialism there is a correlation between children who grew up in homes of divorce and the need for security which is manifested often in a higher degree of consumerism.
His book covers a wealth of information challenging the idea that greater wealth leads to greater happiness. He proposes, in fact, that the opposite is true. As an adult child of divorce, I realize that the statistics that relate to children whose parents divorced are different than the statistics that relate to children who are adults when their parents divorce. But my ears perk up now whenever I hear the word divorce, and I was interested in this theory and how it may relate to us ACODs.
Kasser's reasoning seemed to go something like this: When a divorce occurs there is less interpersonal "capital" such as warmth, affection, etc. so in an effort to fill this deep need even years later, children of divorce turn to materialism and consumerism to try to create a more secure , fulfilling environment for themselves.
I am not sure how all this plays out in the life of an adult child of divorce, but I do know from personal experience that soon after I found out my parents were divorcing , when I was in my early 40's, I felt a strong desire to go out and buy things to help each room of my house be a little updated or changed for good. I am not a big shopper, nor do I usually buy things that I do not truly need, but I remember going to the store with a list that would acquire something for every room of my house.....a new shower curtain, a new pillow, a new rug, a new candle, etc..... something small, but a materialistic , consumeristic purchase in order to bring some sense of comfort , security, beauty, newness to my personal living space. It was a one-time spending spree that did meet some immediate needs. In its place , it did help, in a temporary manner. Other than that, I do not know if I am more materialistic than before my parents divorced, but I do know that my feeling of security and connectedness was severely challenged, especially in the beginning of this journey.
The reality is that many of us turn to "things" to meet deep needs, whether or not our parents are divorced. But it is important for us as ACODs to look at how we attempt to fill the deep needs created in the breakdown of our families and re-evaluate what will truly BEST meet our deepest needs. The book by Kasser gives us more proof that people do not become happier as they become more affluent, by that association alone.
Our intimacy and closeness to others grows out of more costly and valuable resources than money...it is the product of investment in people...in treating people like the creations they are, and not like things. As adult children of divorce , who have had our share of loss of security and connectedness, let us not shy away from the greatest investment of "spending" time with people we love, "spending" energy on loving better, "spending" even our money on experiences rather than things. That may be the best kind of "spending" of all!!!
NEXT time: The issue of our 'very being' as an adult child of divorce