Please stop the abuse of parental alienation.
Monday, April 16, 2012
One thing I would like to do is to teach a class or speak about parental alienation, using my experience and experiences of others. I would love to be able to speak with attorneys, mediator and judges about this, so they could better understand. I would love to have the laws changed so that every high conflict custody case would have to go through some type of parental alienation education class. This so called class would address symptoms, behaviors, solutions and support. While this is a thought still in process, here are some ideas off the top of my head.
I am so glad you decided to listen to me today. While my story is not uncommon in high conflict divorce/custody cases, it does happen more often than not. Although I cannot state a percentage of custody cases that result in parental alienation, I believe the number has risen over the years either by knowledge and the acceptance that it does occur, or by the availability of social medias and the Internet searches.
Divorce and custody cases have occurred for decades and in this time there has been an increase in the number of difficult cases. The case where you have a parent unwilling to budge on any issue and who is very unreasonable in their feelings toward the other parent with the contact/visitation schedule with the other parent has has also increased. Perhaps this is the first time you have heard about abuse, especially sexual abuse. Searching your local police department records does not show any entries of domestic violence or abuse to the children. Your client may be adamant that abuse happened and has occurred for years, but they were too scared for reasons explained why there are no records of abuse. A bit of research on your part about parental alienation will demonstrate an increase of allegations of abuse just prior to or after the divorce petition. You must not immediately dismiss an allegation as false because the parents are in the midst of a divorce but must also guard against presuming guilt and aligning yourself with the reporting parent's agenda.
I believe that extensive interviews with both parents and children by both attorneys, mediators, judges and psychologists must be taken into account without bias. You will find the alienating parent to be unwilling to budge on any of their claims and requests concerning the children. The alienating parent may even become more rigid and unreasonable. The alienating parent may divert attention off themselves by placing blame upon the other parent, the children or reference to non exist court orders or nonexistent ongoing investigations. The psychologist may note the alienating parent exhibits narcissistic personality traits as well as anti social behaviors. The target parent my often be passive, overly accommodating, or emotionally constricted. In many cases of parent alienation, the passive partner not only tolerates criticism and accusation, but engages in self-questioning. One confusing aspect of the dynamics of parent alienation cases is that the alienated parent sometimes has more obvious symptoms of psychological distress, such as depression or anxiety, than the alienating parent. When psychological health is defined as the absence of internal distress or conflict, this factor makes it appear that the alienating parent is the healthier parent. However, this appearance is misleading.
Everyone, including the attorneys, mediators, judges, psychologists and parents must be in concert about therapy or ongoing education for the benefit of the children. These were two individuals who married that met as two people seeking a relationship with another adult. Hopes and dreams may have been forfeited, but one fact remains, they both loved and cared for the child/children. This fact gets lost in all the bickering, blaming and court proceedings. They once were adults, but act now as children with a playground temper tantrum. It is as if there was a contest with the children as the grand prize.
If these messages and teachings could be taught and practiced, I think the prevalence of alienation could decrease.
1) Parents, at one time you cared and loved each other enough that you brought a life into this world. This gift is from both of you. Your children are the innocent party, only wanting love, security and praise from both of you. Your children seek acceptance from both of you and want to love you both without conflict.
2) The divorce is between the adults. Even though your children may be older and "appear" grown, they do NOT want to hear about this. They wish it would not be happening and are coping the best they can without your input of choosing sides. They do NOT want to pick one parent over the other. If your children are younger, please so not destroy them more by engaging them into an adult issue. They are not equipped mentally and emotionally.
3) Parents keep your derogatory opinions about the other parent away from ANY source that can be leaked back to your children. Keep your correspondence from your attorney and yourself private and hidden from your children. Keep your files and letters, notes, blog writings and any social media updates (if you are that ignorant) that are derogatory to the other parent to yourself and do not share with your children or with those that can let them read them.
4) Practice gratitude towards the other parent no matter how small in front of your children. Remember without this other person, you would not have the child. You have to be grateful for that fact...don't you?
5) Do not reinforce negative comments made by your children. Your child may be parroting your behaviors. If TRUE abuse is taking place, leave it up to the professionals to investigate. You most likely are not in the profession that investigates this, and if you are you know you must remain distant. Instead of taking the negative comments made by your child teach them problem solving instead. ( I have seen parents complain that the other parent does not see the child and further questioning about visitation results in an impossible visitation schedule for the non custodial parent, based on the custodial parents demands) So instead when your child complains that the other parent did not do this or that, look at yourself and see if you have made this happen. Instead of saying the other parent does not care, tell your child the other parent is trying real hard. Giving a little credit is not going to kill you.
6) If you keep telling your children directly or indirectly via body language and innuendos that the other parent is evil, bad, a poor parent, stupid and other derogatory terms, your child at some point will connect the dots that they are that way as well.
7) Most important...at some point and I do not know when, your children are going to seek answers. You, as an alienating parent, cannot stay the controlling factor in your children's lives forever. Do not continue a cycle of abuse or start one. You are the adult. You got married, had children, the marriage did not work out so do something productive. Get therapy for the failure of the marriage, get a hobby, do things you wanted, start your bucket list...but leave the children out of this fight.
As for how my experience figures into this, I also was facing a failed marriage. . My husband and I had one child. Problems arose shortly after the birth of our son. I suggested counseling which he refused. When it became apparent to him that divorce was happening, he suddenly wanted counseling and appealed to my maternal senses of having another child. While I longed for another child, I could not raise another child in the environment that was present then. As for the his suggested counseling, I refused as I felt it was a ploy by him. I do not know if he would have carried out a successful counseling term or not. We did try other ways of reconciling our marriage though. Church and friends played a big part of this, although must report was to no avail. While the original divorce-custody issues were not easy, I felt they worked somewhat. Our son was having contact with his dad, although in reality it was in name only. He spent time at dad's home, but was never cared for by him. In my usual defense, his dad worked hard and was away from the home a lot due to his job. As the years passed and usual arguments over care, school, medical concern of son escalated...I would find myself in a battle that I never imagined or could conceive.
I became a tyrant about education according the courts and my ex. Insisting our son get a solid and excellent education would work against me. I did not like the public school system and had him in private schools, even while his dad and I were married and thought he agreed on this. His dad supported this idea until he decided to use it against me. My working overtime, weekends and odd shifts for the extra income was fine when we were married, but became a major issue when he fought for custody. While we were married, having a nanny was acceptable but was a major issue when we became divorced. Attending church was fine while we were married, but again became an issue used against me in the custody issue. Everything I thought we stood for and thought was important became major roadblocks. While we sat in the mediators office, I felt as I was chastised for wanting our son to attend a good school, to strive for college and to attend church.
In time I realized I could either keep fighting or as the judge stated and I think is so WRONG, that if I do not let the child go,the child will run away. So I let my son go live with his dad, realizing that in time I may never see him again, or to attempt to have contact with hopes that in time our son will see I did the best I could. I did what I could, traveling hundreds of miles to see him and to be denied access. The financial costs and physical,mental and emotional pain were noting compared to what I assumed were the finality of never having contact again.
As time passed, my hatefulness and contempt of how my husband was making me feel towards his actions, turned to sorrowfulness. I never wanted our child to hate his dad, but this seemed to be the goal of his dad. I had to learn to take my adult feeling of resentment and turn it into a positive. I also had to learn how to project this upon our son who would have nothing to do with me.
As time passed some circumstances would present themselves. Our son had a major medical emergency and I was called by a friend after his dad would not answer the phone. After driving about 3+ hours of highway speed and arriving at the hospital and being able to see our son, the next question without hesitation was has his dad been notified to those in the room. I placed a call, to only reach his voice mail and left a message. This is when I realized, the child matters, not you or I.Parental alienation is not about you, me, our ex... it is about the children and how we handle it to hopefully stop the cycle of abuse.
Please stop the abuse of parental alienation.
Posted by Alienated mom at 3:51 PM