Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! a holiday that's celebrated annually on the night of October 31. It originated in Ireland. The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year. The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates. The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.

Now that you have had your little history lesson about Halloween......

Halloween....whether you and your children celebrated it or may have memories of the night. Doorbells ring, children dressed as ghosts, goblins and their favorite cartoon characters reciting the "trick or treat" mantra, in hopes of receiving a treat from your home. Perhaps you dressed your children up and went walking through your neighborhood and your children came home with more candy than they needed. The whole point of Halloween for me was doing something special with my son. Something he looked forward to until he became too old to trick or treat. Now that he is an adult, I miss those cold, dark nights bundled up to fend off the cold and walking from home to home with him.

So tonight when your doorbell rings and a cute little character recites "trick or treat", give then a great treat, smile and enjoy the little ones. There may be a parent who is celebrating their last Halloween with their child tonight.

Most of all, be safe, stay warm and check your child's candy before they eat it. Sad world we live in that one has to do this.

Monday, October 25, 2010

best interest of the child?

The best interests of the child is something parents hear about in custody cases. It is the doctrine used by most courts to determine a wide range of issues relating to the well-being of the children. I am sure we have read over the guidelines used in determining what is the best interests of the child. There are two guidelines I find are conflicting, when parental alienation is present. The capacity of each parent to allow and encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent, including physical access and the preference of the child.

When parental alienation is present, the alienating parent often limits contact or refuses contact between the children and other (target) parent. The children are brainwashed against the other (target) parent and many times will tell the court that they do not want to see the target parent. This is where the problem lies with the courts. They fail miserably in cases of parental alienation. I do not believe that judges and attorneys are clueless to the actions of parental alienation. I believe they have been well aware of this phenomenon for years, but the current penalties that judges can impose are useless. One can file contempt charges against the alienating parent, but I have found that getting the case heard is difficult. I had my contempt cases rescheduled several times because my ex would have a "reason" why he could not attend court that day. The judges also get irritated when one parent seems to file contempt proceedings as well. As time goes on, the child is being programmed more and more against the target parent. Then the judge listens to the child who states they want nothing to do with you, they hate you and more. I had counseling ordered, but my ex refused to attend. By the time all was said and done, I had a child who wanted nothing to do with me, told the judge he refused to live with me and would run away if forced to live there. The judge felt his hands were tied. Instead of the judge making that decision, I had to allow my son to live with his dad, so I would not have to deal with a runaway.

Alienating parents use the children as accomplices in a crime of hate. The alienating parent will say, I tried to make them see you, but they refuse. Where are the adults in this? When did a minor get to state what they want and have it granted? This is not about a gift they wish for and hope they get it. This is about having contact with the parents who love them.

The courts are doing a great disservice to parents by allowing the "preference of the child" to dominate custody cases. The courts fail to act upon the blocking of access properly.

Studies show time and time again that children benefit from having contact with both parents. This is barring any verifiable and documented cases of TRUE abuse, not the abuse claims made by the alienating parent and by the children who are vague in details or way too knowledgeable of details based upon their age. You may not like your ex and most likely do not if they are an ex now. That does not mean they are now a terrible parent. Children benefit from having contact, love and a stable relationship with both parents. One parent who attempts to sabotage this as a means for revenge is wrong.

The courts need to step up to the bar (pardon the pun) and put a stop permanently to the actions of parental alienation.

When did the best interests of the child mean denying them access to both parents?


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yanni at the Acropolis - Until The Last Moment...

Some days I listen to songs to sing along, other days to be cheered up by a familiar tune. Sometimes I am searching a relaxing melody so I can lose myself in a thought. I like many genres of music, but many times I seek out a classical type of music. So today I was searching youtube for some Yanni videos. OK call me cheesy...But I came across this one and had to listen many times to hear what he says at the beginning of the video. That lead me to googling quotes by him. I came across the following.

No matter what happens in life, never lose sight of who you are.

My father taught me that one of the most important abilities in life is to be able to take the pain and persevere, and for years this lesson had served me well.

this is what he says in this video:
Sometimes we get caught up in our troubles and our problems and we let life slip away, but life is precious, all of life, and one must try to take in as much of it as possible

parenting during alienation

One could say that parenting a child while being a target in an alienation case is an oxymoron. How does a parent be a parent during this? How do we as parents correct the abhorrent behavior that our children have? Any correction or punishment of their behavior only adds fuel to the alienation and to the alienating parent. Grounding your child sends the message that you are the bad parent, because the other parent is constantly instilling that message to them. Your children could be told things such as, see I told you your mom/dad doesn't let you do anything, see I told you your mom/dad is always grounding you and more.

So what does a parent do? I don't have a blanket answer and what has worked for me may not work for your case. Target parents are looking for advice and are willing to do what it takes to overcome this as well. You may be wondering what was my "secret" to finally have my son start coming around. There is no secret or special formula. But I can talk about my case and hope that what I have gone through and done helps other target parents. This is my goal, to help other target parents overcome the alienation and to reconnect with their children. My other goal is to have the legal system and counselors recognize this alienating behavior for what it is.

One piece of advice that I got was to "pick my battles". Pick my battles? What are you talking about? How many can I choose?

Let me state that I was not aware of the term parental alienation until after my son accused me of abusing him after a weekend visit in the summer. He spent the summers with his dad and for years all went well, or so I thought. This particular year 2005, things changed. We had a good weekend considering all the problems that happened that weekend. I was kissed goodnight, hugged and told that I was loved by my son. Looking back, I have to wonder if the problems were not part of a plan. I would later find out that my son was told that he could tell the judge where he wants to live and the judge has to listen to him if things change at mom's home. Prior to this weekend I had a son who was considerate, empathetic, sympathetic, loving, giving, respectful and always striving for a bigger goal academically. My son did not have a strong relationship with his dad. I fault his dad for this because his dad was always too busy with work and other activities to take time off to attend school functions and more. My son hated this and always made excuses for his dad, such as his dad's work is important and dad did not get enough notice to change his work schedule. I hated that my son thought this, but I never told him different. I just agreed that his dad had an important job. His dad never called on a regular basis and that bothered my son. But again, there was always an excuse. What I hated about the summer extended visits was that my son was not spending the time with his dad, but spending it with the new wife or girlfriend or in a daycare setting. His dad did have to work and did well in his job, but I never saw any efforts on his part to set aside special time for his son. Our son spent his time with others instead of his dad during the summer.

After that weekend, as I call it, my life turned upside down and things changed drastically and seemingly overnight. Now my list of "pick my battles" was overwhelming. So what were the battles I thought I had to pick from? If you recall I have stated that my son did not get phone calls from his dad. Now he was getting calls up to 15 times per day. Not that it is bad, but it is a dramatic change from previous behavior of his dad. My son was going to his room to talk, but he was slamming shut a door to his room and locking it. Behavior that was also a dramatic change. When I asked that he did not slam his door, he would slam his door again. Asking my son to help set the table for dinner was now met with words of "you can't make me". Dinner was a major and stressful time. He would literally shovel his food into his mouth, and display horrendous table manners. He would leave the table within minutes and refuse to take his dinnerware to the sink. Telling my son I loved his was met with a look that just sliced my heart in two. School was a major issue. Letting him know that he had x amount of time to get ready for school was met with him rolling over and ignoring me. Repeated requests were ignored. Finally I was told that if I force him to do something, he will call the cops and report me for abuse. His school work suffered and I was told that he was trying to get kicked out of school so the judge will force him to live with his dad. I was told he "knew" how to run away and there was nothing I could do and the judge will say he can live with his dad. Peers and my family members were also subjected to this behavior. An elderly lady who always relied on his help with his taking groceries from her car to her house was told she can do it herself. It became embarrassing to hear his insults and rants to others. He refused to call me mom and either referred to me by my given name or as Hey. He told me to take sleeping medicine in excess and to indulge in foods that I was severely allergic to. I was told to buy him things because his dad buys him things. I was told his dad does what he wants. I was told his dad has a bigger and better home, so the judge will let him live there. I had a list of behaviors that were on my battle list and I had to pick carefully. Common courtesy, human decency and civility were completely lacking in his interaction with me and of those close to me.

So I had to find out what a parent was. To me that meant that I loved him, showed him love, guided him, set good examples and try to mold him to be a productive citizen as well. That also meant to me that when he disobeyed reasonable requests, he would have repercussions as well. In the past that meant things such as doing well in school rewarded him. Good behavior could result in a new game or something he was wanting at the store. Bad behavior could be a grounding from the playstation system.

His behavior was abhorrent and grounding was not going to work. He was not doing anything behavior wise to warrant a reward. My hands were tied for the most part.

Then I thought about it. What is the most important thing a parent can do for their child beside offer shelter and the necessities of life, such as food, clothes, school supplies and such? LOVE. That is probably the most difficult things to feel good about when your child so clearly does everything in their power to appear that they hate you and want you to disappear completely from their life. Then I realized that the most important thing however, that any parent can give their child, is a sense of being loved and we have to remember that we are not perfect. Parents this is not a competition as to who can buy more for the child. We have faults, everyone does, parent or not.

The battle I picked was the disrespectful to the parent one. I told him his behavior was not acceptable. I told him I will not hear him being disrespectful to me or to his dad. Yes, I had to bite my tongue and not say disparaging things about his dad and admit I was not always successful, but I caught myself and recognized my own behavior. I always told my son I loved him even when he was very clear in his hatred for me.

Somehow with time, prayers, faith, preservation and many breakdowns of crying in private, things have changed.

Although the courts have laws defining behavior of a parent who is denying visitation, I will touch upon the legal side at a later time.