Divorce American Style

In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Peter Rodger, the father of Santa Barbara mass murderer, Elliot Rodger, unwittingly gave a perfect example of the devastating effects of lifestyle divorce on children.  Mr. Rodger said of his son, “The first years of his life were wondrous, he laughed so much we were afraid he would choke.”  But when Elliot Rodger was seven his parents split up. Peter Rodger remarried when Elliot was eight, and by nine the laughing child was no more, but a permanent psychotherapy patient.  The little boy had “social issues” so, “We brought in therapists to help him integrate into society.”

Mr. Rodger philosophized about his son representing “the world’s horror story,” which he described as somebody “on the outside is one thing and on the inside is something completely different.”  After suddenly losing the only family they know, and without the mental maturity to imagine another family,  these children are bewildered with incomprehensible reassurances like, “I’m not leaving you, son,” as the parent they need and love is leaving.

Elliot Rodger wrote in his manifesto, “My little 9 year old self realized there were hierarchies.… Jealousy and envy would bring me immense pain.”  In truth, the child’s heart told him he was not at the top of his father’s “hierarchy.”  Inevitably, Elliot began to crave things Hollywood people seemed to prize more than family.

Barbara Walters asked, “You are a very handsome man … was he [his son] jealous of you?”  The elder Rodger, who specializes in selling photos of women’s naked rear ends, wistfully assented that his physically inferior son was indeed jealous of him.  Walters asked Mr. Rodger if wished his son had never been born.  The traumatized Mr. Elliot responded, “Part of me says yes …”  Coming from a culture where divorce is rampant, where man-woman marriage is no longer sanctified but just one lifestyle choice among many, and where every fetus’s chance to live is is no more than somebody’s “choice,” Peter Rodger admitted he might have made the wrong one. 

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