July 2nd, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The National Organization for Women’s reputation for honesty and integrity hit an all-time low with the NOW Foundation’s publication of this screed against recognition of Parental Alienation Syndrome. The piece recycles most of the long-discredited notions about PAS we see so often and it does so for the purpose of opposing fathers’ rights to their children. Far worse, in doing so, NOW’s public stance is frankly anti-child. Put succinctly, NOW’s position is anti-science, anti-father and anti-child. Ultimately, it’s anti-mother as well, ironic as that may be.
Over almost thirty years, the science on PAS has been building steadily. In the 1980s, six different researchers working independently began advancing the idea that children sometimes were saddled with a parent who was determined to exclude the other parent from the child’s life. Unsurprisingly, the parent’s campaign of alienation often occurred in the context of divorce and child custody cases. They described the parental behavior and its effects on the children with one researcher, Dr. Richard Gardner, calling those effects Parental Alienation Syndrome.
Over the years, countless researchers and clinicians have observed similar behaviors on the part of parents and some have studied the effects on children which turn out to last a lifetime in some cases. By now, there are several book-length treatises on the subject, the most comprehensive of which is Vanderbilt Psychology professor William Bernet’s compendium Parental Alienation, DSM-5, ICD-11. That book includes papers by some 70 mental health researchers around the world as well as 630 citations to scholarly articles on PAS. The undeniable fact of parental alienation is a regular feature of custody cases in courtrooms around the country and the world. Case history after case history has been recorded by researchers like Linda Gottlieb in her recent book The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Family Therapy and Collaborative Systems Approach to Amelioration.
Given this weight of scholarly evidence, how does the NOW Foundation describe PAS?
PAS is a tactical ploy used by attorneys whose clients (primarily fathers) are seeking custody of their children.
And who are these countless researchers who, over 30 + years have pioneered the study of PAS?
Proponents of PAS[are] predominantly right-wing “fathers’ rights” groups…
How does the NOW Foundation describe the huge mass of empirical research accumulated by countless researchers in all parts of the globe?
…no valid, empirical evidence exists for such a mental disorder…
The intellectual dishonesty of NOW’s piece would be astonishing were it not so common. For a long time, it’s been impossible to pretend that their sometimes hilarious misstatements of fact can be attributed to excusable error. The simple fact is that the many falsehoods in its piece on PAS are intentional. NOW has proven itself time and again to be anti-father. Its opposition to shared parenting litigation alone proves the point, and its opposition to inclusion of PAS in the DSM-5 repeats the performance. And that, of course, is the point. NOW’s piece on PAS has nothing to do with the reality of PAS, its scientific basis, who it benefits, who it harms, etc. It has everything to do with NOW’s quixotic opposition to fathers’ obtaining equal rights to their children in family courts.
I say ‘quixotic’ because NOW has always championed women in the workplace. What’s obvious to most people is that the more fathers are allowed, by mothers and family courts, to care for their children, the more NOW’s dream of women’s empowerment in the workplace can become a reality. And the more fathers are marginalized in their children’s lives, the more women will find themselves marginalized at work. It can’t work any other way, but when it comes to NOW, it seems that misandry trumps even women’s power. Amazing, but true.
Feminists have always had a disturbing willingness to Just Make Stuff Up. When Gloria Steinem wanted to inveigh against anorexia and other eating disorders, she proclaimed in writing that 150,000 girls die of anorexia every year. The real figure was somewhere between 50 and 75, so Steinem was off by a factor of 2,000 to 3,000. It wasn’t a mistake, it was intentional falsification. When Susan Brownmiller wanted to defend false rape accusers, she invented the “fact” that only 2% of rape claims are fabricated. At the time there was literally nothing to support her claim, and subsequent research has shown it to be wildly inaccurate, but she made it anyway. Long after the Duke III lacrosse players had been ruled to be factually innocent of all wrongdoing following false claims of rape by Crystal Mangum, feminist Amanda Marcotte proclaimed that they had in fact “held her down” and raped her. In each case, as in countless others, there’s a desired end and, lacking actual information supporting said end, feminists Just Make Stuff Up. So NOW’s piece on PAS is part of a long tradition of feminist disinformation on a wide range of topics.
But it turns out that there are consequences to following the Just Make Stuff Up credo, and NOW’s piece on PAS is a good example. In the first place, opposition to inclusion of PAS in the DSM-5 hurts mothers as much as it hurts fathers. For years PAS opponents have claimed, as NOW does, that PAS is just a trial tactic used by fathers against mothers. But that’s not true. As even a casual glance at the literature on PAS would have told them, both mothers and fathers sometimes use alienating tactics against the other parent. So when NOW argues against recognition of PAS by the APA, it’s arguing, among other things, against a mother’s ability to prove alienating behavior on the part of her ex-husband and gain for her more power in the ongoing custody battle.
Again, the irony of NOW’s opposition to mothers’ power in family courts is obvious to all – all except NOW, that is.
But if stark dishonesty were the only problem with NOW’s piece, it would merely take its place in the voluminous annals of feminist intellectual legerdemain. Sadly, bad as the piece is factually, that’s actually its best feature. That’s because every attack on PAS recognition is an attack on children. The sad truth is that some parents do alienate their children in the wake of divorce. About that, there can be no doubt; too many children, now grown up, have told their stories of how one parent or the other tried – and sometimes succeeded – at turning them against the other parent. That alienation is child abuse and, through the diligent research of countless mental health professionals, its effects on children are coming to be known. They can last a lifetime.
For example, Dr. Gabrielle Shapiro, M.D. has described her psychiatric training, her (at first) grudging acceptance of the phenomenon of PAS and “its devastating and long-lasting impact on the development and attachments of children who are victims of high-conflict divorce.”
She goes on to add that parental alienation of children “can lead to severe lifelong pathologic consequences for the child who has lost the reciprocal nurturing relationship with one of his primary attachment figures. Often these dysfunctional relationship patterns persist throughout a lifetime, despite the best of therapeutic interventions.”
So that’s what NOW is plumping for in its piece against PAS inclusion: “devastating and long-lasting impact[s]” on children and “severe, lifelong pathologic consequences” that often can’t be addressed by therapy.
Few children will thank them.
Parental Alienation: Dead or Alive in the DSM-5?
Reposted with permission. For original article, click here
Here’s what I love about the internet — shopping, booking vacations and connecting with people all over the world.
Here’s what I hate about the internet – bloggers who believe they’re channeling Edward R. Murrow, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in every post and their readers who faithfully repeat what’s written as fact.
I was recently reminded of the latter when I read a colleague’s rant about the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) “cowardly decision” not to include parental alienation in the DSM-5. When I pointed out that the APA hadn’t yet decided whether or not to include parental alienation in the upcoming edition of its bible, my colleague gave me the name of the blogger who reported the news and asked, “How could she write it if it weren’t true?”
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said, “Let me count the ways.”
While my contribution to the proposal, Parental Alienation, DSM-5 and ICD-11, was probably the least significant input from the 60-plus authors who collaborated on project, my effort does qualify me for regular, and accurate, updates as the proposal winds its way through the review process. So here’s the truth about the current status of parental alienation and the DSM-5:
In the next few months, members of the DSM-5 Task Force and the Childhood and Adolescent Disorders Work Group will make their final recommendations to the APA Board of Trustees. The Task Force has already signaled that it probably won’t recommend listing parental alienation under the Mental Disorder category. However, being classified as a mental disorder is not the only door into the DSM. The APA could list parental alienation as an example of a relational problem or a shared psychotic disorder. The APA could also list parental alienation as a subtype of another relational problem. The professional organization could even include parental alienation as an issue that needs further study. Bottom line — the fat lady not only isn’t singing, she hasn’t even started warming up.
So enjoy the internet. Go shopping, look for videos of kittens doing adorable things, even tell us what you’re cooking for dinner if you must. Just don’t believe everything you read. Murrow hasn’t filed a story in a long time.
Blinded, Bound, and Burdened: Parental Alienation and Two Theories– The Double Bind & Cognitive Dissonance.
Blinded, Bound, and Burdened: Parental Alienation and Two Theories– The Double Bind & Cognitive Dissonance by Monika
A double bind was first described by Gregory Bateson in the 1950s. Bateson did not invent the double bind, but he was the first to describe the dilemma. What is a double bind and how is related to parental alienation? I will borrow the definition from Wikipedia. Obviously, I could refer readers to studies that high-light Bateson’s observations. However, as many misinformed groups decide to dismiss Dr. Gardner’s empirical findings, it appears reality and reason is not always a concern.
A double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will be automatically wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore cannot resolve it or opt out of the situation (Wikipedia).
An alienated child is in a double bind. As an example, a child arrives home smiling, eager to report about the great time spent with dad. Unfortunately, the mother never recovered from the divorce. She certainly does not want to hear about her former spouse. As the child starts discussing the good time at dads, the mother’s emotions begin to fester. She yells at the child. Next, she walks over and holds the child tightly. She glares into the child’s eyes, informing this just seconds ago happy child, that she does not want to hear about time with daddy. The child, startled, starts to cry. In turn, the mother acts concerned, at least for the moment. After that, she places her arms around the child, giving an affectionate hug. All is well– at least for a moment. The hug temporarily soothed the child. The mother realized the hug worked. Consequently, to gain back the unholy alignment she desperately craves, she appears teary eyed. As her eyes water up with tears, she looks at the child and says, it is okay to talk about time at dad’s house, but that it hurts mommy very much to hear about dad. Mother then smiles, and states, “hey lets go buy that $100 doll/ truck you have been wanting.”
Double binds are often utilized as a form of control without open coercion—the use of confusion makes them difficult to respond to or resist (Wikipedia).
A double bind generally includes different levels of abstraction in orders of messages, and these messages can be stated or implicit within the context of the situation, or conveyed by tone of voice or body language. Further complications arise when frequent double binds are part of an ongoing relationship to which the person or group is committed. (Wikipedia). One does not need an explanation—further complications will arise. As a parent child relationship is ongoing, the child is committed and bound to live in perpetual emotional abuse. Because parental alienation does not include situations of physical abuse or neglect, the parent-child relationship will remain (with the favored parent).
The double bind is often misunderstood to be a simple contradictory situation, where the victim is trapped by two conflicting demands. While it’s true that the core of the double bind is two conflicting demands, the differences lie in how they are imposed on the victim, what the victim’s understanding of the situation is and finally, who (or what) imposes these demands upon the victim. Unlike the usual no-win situation, the victim has difficulty defining the exact nature of the paradoxical situation in which he or she is. The contradiction may be unexpressed in its immediate context and therefore is invisible to external observers, only becoming evident when a prior communication is considered. Typically, a demand is imposed upon the victim by someone who they respect (a parent, teacher or doctor), but the demand itself is inherently impossible to fulfill because some broader context forbids it. For example, when a person in a position of authority imposes two contradictory conditions but there is an unspoken rule that one must never question authority (Wikipedia).
Gregory Bateson and his colleagues defined the double bind as follows:
- The situation involves two or more people, one of whom (for the purpose of the definition), is designated as the “victim”. The others are people who are considered the victim’s superiors: figures of authority (such as parents), whom the victim respects.
- Repeated experience: the double bind is a recurrent theme in the experience of the victim, and as such, cannot be resolved as a single traumatic experience.
- A “primary injunction” is imposed on the victim by the others in one of two forms:
- (a) “Do X, or I will punish you”;
- (b) “Do not do X, or I will punish you”.
- (or both a and b)
The punishment may include the withdrawing of love, the expression of hate and anger, or abandonment resulting from the authority figure’s expression of helplessness.
For a double bind to be effective, the victim must be unable to confront or resolve the conflict between the demand placed by the primary injunction and that of the secondary injunction. In this sense, the double bind differentiates itself from a simple contradiction to a more inexpressible internal conflict, where the victim really wants to meet the demands of the primary injunction, but fails each time through an inability to address the situation’s incompatibility with the demands of the secondary injunction. Thus, victims may express feelings of extreme anxiety in such a situation, as they attempt to fulfill the demands of the primary injunction albeit with obvious contradictions in their actions. (Wikipedia)
Double binds can be extremely stressful and become destructive when one is trapped in a dilemma and punished for finding a way out. (Wikipedia). An alienated child does not have a way out. Sometimes claiming to love the other parent may cause the other parent to flee the country with the child. At minimum, the parent will become enraged and engage in a full campaign of denigration.
The classic example given of a negative double bind is of a mother telling her child that she loves him or her, while at the same time turning away in disgust. (The words are socially acceptable; the body language is in conflict with it). The child doesn’t know how to respond to the conflict between the words and the body language and, because the child is dependent on the mother for basic needs, he or she is in a quandary. Small children have difficulty articulating contradictions verbally and can neither ignore them nor leave the relationship. (Wikipedia).
For some time, the word “theory” has been scrutinized. Many hurting parents have been told that their pain is nothing more than a theory. A theory does not equate made up junk science. On the contrary, it is a way to organize and verify information. In fact, given the double bind theory, another theory comes to mind. One wonders, if this situation is repeated, what possibilities the child may use to organize this information. Coming to mind is cognitive dissonance. Yes, another theory.
Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. I may be wrong, but hearing that it is okay and both not okay to discuss a good time at dads house, the child may feel conflicted. What is the child to do? The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.
In cases of parental alienation, the child may adopt a hateful attitude. The child is both internally motivated from the emotional roller coaster of the favored parent and externally motivated by fear of abandonment. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. The alienated child, may say something such as, “we no longer like daddy, he left us.” Most realize if this child were age six, the statement is borrowed (dad left mom, not the child). It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. Parental alienation is also an extensively studied “theory”. Dr. Gardner identified eight manifestations that child may display. I included two of the many methods that may lead to parental alienation syndrome that are borrowed from the others theories. Please click here for peer-review studies.
Caveat: Parental alienation is gender neutral. Both men and woman are alienated parents–the children suffer. Please pray for alienated children and their families.
Posted with permission by Dr. Richard A. Warshak
Parental alienation is emotional abuse. Judge Guadagno is clear about this. Ruling last week in the Sean Goldman case, the judge calls the behavior of Sean’s stepfather and family “contemptible” for filling the child’s head with false information aimed at undermining his love for his dad.
Referring to the “continuous efforts at parental alienation” begun by the boy’s mother and continued by his stepfather and maternal grandparents, and their “attempt to implant false memories and erase Sean’s true memories of his father,” the judge wrote, “It is difficult to conceive of a more dramatic example of emotional abuse of a young child.”
What is self-evident to this judge is incomprehensible to a cadre of naysayers who deny the reality of this form of abuse unless the perpetrator is a violent man. These deniers fear that the term parental alienation is merely a tool for abusive men to deflect blame for their children’s rejection of them. As advocates for victims of domestic violence, they must acknowledge that some men exact revenge against former spouses by poisoning the children’s affections for their mother. When children become alienated from a mother who is a former victim of domestic violence, they call this domestic violence by proxy.
The Goldman case, though, highlights what is wrong with dismissing all cases of parental alienation except those that fit the pattern of violent man against woman. In this case, the perpetrators of the abuse are male and female. Neither has been accused of domestic violence. They have been accused of alienating a boy from his father — parental alienation. And, no court has found that David Goldman is an abuser.
Unless we deny the reality identified by three court-appointed Brazilian psychologists, the Brazilian court, and the New Jersey court, we must conclude that Sean Goldman has been harmed by parental alienation, not by domestic violence by proxy.
Can an abusive parent invoke the concept of parental alienation to blame and discredit a protective parent? Yes. Courts must exercise great care before accepting allegations of alienation as true, or they will mistakenly place children with physically and psychologically abusive parents. But this concern must not keep courts from protecting children against the cruelty of being manipulated to disown a good and loving parent.
Parental Alienation: A Couple of Words of Caution about Parental Alienation
Distortion: The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.
Fact: There is nothing theoretical about emotional abuse. The scientific community has not discredited Parental Alienation.
Distortion: The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality.
Fact: One cannot discredit “PAS” as a diagnosis because it is not an option for a diagnosis. In the event that it is an option for a diagnosis, the court should not be asked to assume that a child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be alienated have no grounding in reality. Sometimes, there are reasons a child rejects a parent that has nothing to do with parental alienation. But, sometimes a child will irrationally reject a parent because the child has been taught to reject the parent via manipulation .Obviously, thorough assessments from more than one source, in more than one setting must be used. As one tool: Drozd, L. M., & Olesen, N.W. (2004). Is it abuse, alienation, &/or estrangement? A decision tree. Journal of Child Custody, 1(3), 65–106. And, Warshak, R. A. (2002). Misdiagnosis of parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 20(2), 31–52.
Distortion: It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent.
Fact: Common terminology will not divert attention away from emotional abuse but would divert attention to the behaviors of the abusive parent (who may employ verbal tactics, not physical tactics). True: in cases of parental alienation, alienating parents have direct influence on the child’s responses. The child is taught to be disrespectful, intimidating and act discrediting toward the rejected parent.
Distortion: The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence.
Fact: The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated (all manipulation is probably inappropriate). Some circles in the scientific community, call this parental alienation. It seems subtle indications should not be relied on. Alienated children’s behavioral manifestations stem beyond subtle indications. Yes, in cases of domestic violence the child has legitimate grounds for rejection. On the other hand, Alienated children sound like little adults. They use scripted lines and borrowed scenarios. They cannot find any redeeming qualities in the rejected parents and the reasons they give for the irrational alienation are absurd rationalizations.
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. (2006). Navigating Custody & Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge’s Guide (2nd edition). Reno, NV: NCJFCJ
This article is posted with permission from Dr. Richard Warshak
The many parents I have helped, women and men, express astonishment that some people demonize me, attempt to tarnish my reputation, and spread misleading and false information about my work and me. Although my supporters far outweigh my detractors, the people seeking to quiet my voice yell loudly and work hard to circulate their misinformation.
Until now I have allowed the personal attacks and gross misrepresentations to go without answer. I understand the mentality of a true believer and realize that clarification of reality and objective evidence will hit the brick wall of a closed mind. For various reasons, these people want to hold on to their beliefs. They cling to misguided ideas rather than acknowledge the widespread mistreatment of children described in Divorce Poison and my other works. In some respects, they resemble people from earlier generations who refused to acknowledge the evidence of their senses that children were being physically and sexually abused with alarming frequency. Just as the professionals who first pointed an accusing finger at a society that tolerated such abuse were attacked, I suppose it is my fate to be the target of similar attacks.
Defending myself against such attacks feels a bit undignified. It seems an unnecessary waste of time, and gives currency to a few fanatics who attempt to alienate my audience from me using the same tactics that some parents use to alienate their children from the other parent. Some of these extremists have lost custody of their children in a ruling that seeks to protect the children from severe doses of divorce poison. Rather than recognize the rationale for the court’s decision, these people believe that the judge either was biased or was foolishly taken in by the other parent’s allegations. Some of these people would have you believe that there is an epidemic of judges who take joy in placing children with parents who beat or sexually molest them. In fact, one website claims a conspiracy of Masonic judges who, in every family court across North America (I am not exaggerating), automatically give custody to pedophiliac fathers who in turn pimp their children to pedophiliac members of the Illuminati (the group profiled in Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons). I am not kidding. . . . Nor are they.
As I say in the Afterword to the revised edition of my book, when my wife reads these vicious and absurd accounts, she shakes her head in disbelief at the raw animosity that greets the work I do on behalf of suffering families. She asks, “Don’t they know that you’ve devoted your career to the welfare of children?” The many women I have helped through my writing, consultations, and courtroom testimony cannot understand what motivates the detractors, who claim to be advocates for women.
So why am I writing this article? It occurred to me that those who find value in my work might be confused by the drumbeat of misinformation. The downside of responding to critics is that it fuels their zeal and brings more attention to their smears. They live for the battle and are gratified when anyone takes them seriously. I would rather spend my time providing guidance on how to understand, prevent, and repair damaged parent-child relationships. But, for the sake of those who really want to know, here is some clarification.
One smear that has been making the rounds involves a case where I helped a mother whose children were irrationally alienated. Some important details I cannot divulge because they are not a matter of public record and I wish to protect the family’s privacy. Were these details known, domestic violence activists who criticize my involvement in this case would surely regret their words. They would think twice about circulating the innuendos and arguments raised by the father’s lawyer in his attempt to defeat the mother.
Several mental health professionals concluded that the children’s estrangement from their mother was unreasonable. Even the father’s own expert witness recommended that the one child under the age of 18 be removed from the father’s home (but, for reasons unclear, not placed with his mother).
The case was heard before an arbitrator. The arbitrator found that “the mother was the intentional victim of irrational alienation by her sons, designed and orchestrated by the father.” The decision awarded sole custody to the mother and gave her the authority to make decisions on behalf of her son including, at her discretion, enrolling him in my educational workshop. The Arbitrator’s decision was appealed to the Family Court. The Court did not dispute the findings of irrational alienation. But the judge did rule that the Arbitrator should have ordered another evaluation. In the decision the judge pointed out that I gave no recommendations because, as I made clear to the Arbitrator, I had not conducted a custody evaluation. The judge set aside the Arbitrator’s award and allowed the case to go to a new trial.
Here is where the smears begin. The purpose of my testimony was to educate the court about general issues and the state of knowledge regarding parent-child conflicts and children’s rejection of a parent, and to describe various interventions for families in which the court finds that the children’s rejection of a parent is unjustified, irrational, disproportionate to the child’s experience of the parent, and not in the children’s best interests. An expert witness who testifies in this capacity is obliged to explain the limitations of his work in the case. As is my duty, I clarified the purpose of my testimony and volunteered the information that I had not conducted an evaluation and was not there to make a specific recommendation for this family.
Rather than point out that I had testified in a professionally ethical and objective manner and properly apprised the court of the scope of my work in the case, including limitations, some bloggers imply that the Family Court Judge “discovered” the limitations and that I then had to “admit” that I had not seen the children. This is not what happened. I never testified before the Family Court Judge. The Judge simply noted what I had volunteered in my testimony in the Arbitration. My professional colleagues understand that what I did was precisely in accord with professional ethics.
Now it gets interesting, and this is the part critics conceal from their blogs. This was not the conclusion of the case. A new custody assessment was conducted. The assessment results strongly supported the mother’s position, recommended giving her the authority to enroll her son in Family Bridges, and concluded that the workshop was the best option for this family.
The case did go to trial. But, on the eve of the trial, the father’s lawyer, in what appeared to me to be a desperate last-ditch attempt to try his case in the media when it was clear that the evidence favored the mother, submitted an article to Canada’s Law Times that attacked my workshop as unscientific. Fortunately, the editor recognized distortions in the lawyer’s submission and asked me to submit commentary to set the record straight. My article was published. It effectively refutes the lawyer’s arguments. You do not learn about my article by reading the advocate’s blog posts. (See The Slanted Truth for the use of such tactics by alienating parents.) It is as if it did not exist. You can read my article by clicking here.
What you also never learn from reading the blogger’s accounts of this case is the ultimate outcome. Notwithstanding the father’s lawyer’s maneuvers, again, the mother prevailed on all counts. After hearing all the evidence, the judge concluded that “Mother should have sole legal and residential custody of [the child]. Mother shall have complete authority to make decisions regarding [the child's] welfare. She is not required to consult with anyone before doing so; Mother is specifically authorized to obtain any treatment and/or intervention for [the child] as she, in her sole discretion, deems necessary and appropriate for [the child's] best interests; Mother’s authority described above includes, but is not limited to ‘Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child Relationships,’ to enable and assist [the child] in adjusting to living with her.”
By selectively citing the earlier Family Court decision, and concealing the trial outcome, the bloggers leave the impression that the court was critical of Family Bridges and blocked the family from participating in the workshop. In the end, the truth is the exact opposite. (Selective attention is another tactic of alienating parents that critics adopt to try to alienate audiences from my work.)
Here is what the judge wrote in her opinion: “This leaves the Workshop, coupled with a change in custody, as the only potential remedy with any chance of success in this difficult case. . . . The court is faced with compelling evidence that a change in custody, coupled with the Workshop is best for [the child]. . . . The Workshop is a last resort. Obviously it would have been better had these problems been identified and corrected early on. . . . Unfortunately, they were not. This leaves the Workshop as [the child's] best last hope.” [Emphasis added.]
I fully expect detractors to post other information attempting to cast doubt on the wisdom of the judge’s decision in this case (which was essentially identical to the arbitrator’s decision; that is, two different triers of fact, after hearing all the evidence, concluded that the mother should have custody and have the right to enroll her child in Family Bridges). I do not intend to respond to such posts.
As rebuttal to any future innuendoes and misrepresentations, I can state the following. The mother has authorized me to state that she is very pleased with the ultimate outcome of her case. Her formerly alienated son, estranged for six years, participated in, and greatly benefitted from, the four day Family Bridges workshop. He rapidly restored his loving relationship with his mother and they now live happily together.
Parental Alienation: Scams, Scapegoats & Schmucks?
Children believe in Santa Clause and the tooth fairy until they discover the truth. The reality of the characters may be found on their own; other times, a parent informs his or her child. Then there is fear. Some children are afraid of the boogie man, the dark, or the neighbor’s dog. Obviously, there are situations when fear is reality based. If the child was bitten, he or she may fear the dog next door. Then again, some fear the dog next door because mom (or dad) said all dogs will bite. As the child gets older, he or she may believe other falsehoods. They will also stumble upon unpleasant life events. As they approach adulthood, they may even buy into a scam.
The five foot six adolescent weighing ninety pounds may think she is fat. Not only does she believe she is fat, she acts like she is fat. Frantic exercise and limited calories become the norm. Parents and other loved ones tell her otherwise, but her vision becomes reality. She recalls the time her so-called best friend said she was fat. She believed the lie as she identified with her friend. She loved her friend. They spent time together. Consequently, she deprives herself of nutrients. She cuts out of her life a portion of the food pyramid. Ties are severed not only with fruits, but she vows to never eat a cookie again. She was scammed.
What does any of the aforementioned have to do with parental alienation? Scams. There are numerous mislead groups that see emotional abuse as a fallacy. They have been scammed. In their reality, a parent cannot cause alienation (alienate defined as: a loss of affection or interest). They certainly do not think that words alone, by a vindictive ex-spouse, could lead to estrangement (defined as: the development of indifference or hostility with consequent separation or divorcement). They reason if a child is hostile, the parent must have done something to deserve the treatment. Sometimes this is true. No one doubts that some parents are cruel. But, sometimes, it is not true.
Some do not consider that a disturbed parent can belittle the other, on purpose, in front of the child. They certainly do not believe that words alone could be the basis for a child to reject a parent. Words work very well for the ninety pound adolescent. Words are clearly very destructive to bullied children. Yet, some cannot comprehend, as they have been “bitten”, that a spiteful ex-spouse could plant seeds of doubt. They forget that an ex-spouse may rant for years that all dogs bite. Then, they are surprised, when the child kicks the dog, starves herself, destroys property, or claims you are no longer loved.
When seeds of doubt are chronically watered; the child will drown. The child will not only grow to reject you but will grow up and claim to hate you. The child may also hate your dog, your family and anything else related to you. Thus, is parental alienation really a scam? It appears alienated children got scammed. A scam is defined as: a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation. By this definition, most would agree that alienating parents are deceptive. Some parents may have divorced a vindictive person. They found out the hard way– that they had been deceived. They may discover that they had married a schmuck. Not only were they deceived but they find out his or her child has been deceived.
Ironically, words alone scam a lot of women (men too) into marrying someone who is simply not a nice person. No one disputes that it is unjust when PAS is used in court as a fraudulent act. Said another way, it is appalling to realize that in some cases an ex-spouse claimed PAS and custody was awarded to a physically abusive parent. On the other hand, they fail to consider that sometimes abuse is “only” verbal. Please do not fall for the scam that verbal abuse is not damaging. Parental alienation is emotional abuse. Lastly, do not buy into the warning from advocacy groups that emotional abuse is a tactic. Review the literature.
“To a good mother who grieves the loss of her children’s love and respect, alienation is not “theoretical” and there is nothing in sounding the alarm about this form of emotional abuse that conflicts with advocating on behalf of victims of domestic violence.” Dr. Warshak, 2010
Parental Alienation and HuffPo’s Divorce Section: Reality & Reason on Matrimonial Mismatch by Monika Logan
The Huffington Post recently featured an article,”Stop Divorce Poison.” The article, if properly understood, disentangles a web of blame. Accusations that alienated parents, are somehow responsible, is punitive. The idea that both parents are equally at fault is predicated on assumptions. Dr. Warshak sheds light that alienated parents, similar to survivors of domestic violence, may have married a person that was abusive. Joan Dawson also points out, in her article, No Room for Reason that matrimonial mismatches are a reality. She notes, “Abusers do not come with a sign on their forehead.” She indicates that it is often months or years later, when one finds out the truth. At the beginning of courtship, it is hard to detect that the person you’re in love with, may later resort to despicable tactics. Contrary to popular thought, not everyone marries a like-minded person.
Unfortunately, some groups have no room for reason. Their only explanation to child alienation is that the parent must have been abusive. They rank and order levels of abuse. No one disputes the horrific outcome of physical assault. Yet, it is forgotten, that some abusers tactics consist only of uncensored verbal snares to minor children. Beware: If you are an alienated mother, you will be left in the dust. If you report that your child no longer loves you; you will be questioned and judged. They believe if your child refuses visitation; it is your fault. They do not believe that words alone, by a manipulative ex-spouse, could sway the mind of a gullible child. Grown women can follow the likes of Warren Jeffs, but some are dumbfounded when sociopath ex-spouses lure children with lies. If you have an ex-spouse that never hit you, but instead, refuses to cease denigrating you; you too many become alienated.
Why should parental alienation concern women? Because women are concerned about the emotional well-being of their children. Most would agree; it is not in our children’s best interest to ignore emotional abuse. Ignoring parental alienation is problematic because it casts doubt that long-term emotional abuse is something children just “get over.” (Several studies, not media hype, indicate the damage of relentless denigration, click here, here, and here. Denying PAS also harms women, published in a respected, peer-reviewed journal, click here. )
As Dr. Warshak describes, the article intends to make a few simple points. Some of the points are: it is wrong to use children as pawns to express hostility or punish a former partner; it is cruel to teach children to hate people who love them, and it is abusive to force children to choose which they parent they will feel free to love. The crux of the article is that matrimonial mismatches are a reality. The analogy starts off, Mother Theresa does not marry Saddam Hussein.” Judges and court-appointed psychologists recite this bromide when one parent complains about the other. It is meant to convey a sophisticated, balanced, it-takes-two-to-tango view of divorce-related conflict. The system labels these parents a “high-conflict couple,” and assumes that both contribute equally to their disputes (Warshak, 2010).
In some situations both parents contribute equally, but not in all cases. It is often overlooked that a Mother Theresa can marry a Saddam Hussein (especially, as Dawson notes, he is not wearing a sign revealing his true nature). We must admit; the sign may easily be overlooked when we are young and believe we are in love. I share Dawson’s concerns that PA should be distinguished from DV. It is a tragedy when a protective parent has to live with the fact that his or her child has been placed with an abusive parent. But what about emotional abuse? Parents suffer too when their child is placed with an emotionally abusing parent.
I additionally share Dawson’s concerns that many mothers have made good faith allegations; yet they are doubted. The difference is that alienated mothers make good faith allegations that after their divorce, their once loved child is rejecting. They report their ex-spouse never physically abused them or their child. Instead, they report that their ex-spouse will not follow court orders, and will not cease denigrating them to their minor child. They report that their child treats them with contempt, in fact, with the same disrespect and demeaning tone that their ex utilized when married. I cannot help but wonder what they will do when a good mother insists that they did not do anything to deserve such unwarranted hatred. Their messages will be most likely be censored, canceled, and chastised– claiming no man would be clever enough to coax a child into a clouded state of mind control.
“To a good mother who grieves the loss of her children’s love and respect, alienation is not “theoretical” and there is nothing in sounding the alarm about this form of emotional abuse that conflicts with advocating on behalf of victims of domestic violence.” Dr. Warshak, 2010
According to the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization…”These behaviors whether verbal or non-verbal, cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a loving parent is the cause of all their problems, and/or the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected and/or avoided”
As noted by Mike Jeffries author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation , “Contrary to what many damaged people and zealous advocates on the web would have you believe, parental alienation is not another name for pedophilia. Parental alienation is also not a legal strategy designed to allow an abusive parent to continue beating up on the kids. Finally, parental alienation is not the latest get-rich-quick-scheme from consultants and authors who are often accused of trying make money off the backs of people who are at their most financially vulnerable. ”
Parental Alienation is emotional abuse . It is not a “made up theory.” It is instead, a real tragedy. It often occurs in the context of high conflict divorces. Many are aware of the high divorce rates. In a perfect world, coulpes would divorce on good terms. They would refrain from badmouthing in front of the child, or within an earshot of the child and instead, find a friend or therapist. In many cases, one parent did not want the divorce. They are lonely, bitter and desire revenge. Sometimes, the parent does not have intent and in some cases Parental Alienation is clearly a well thought out plan. As a consequence of the parent’s pain, he or she cannot see his or her child’s pain. Contrary to what some believe ; Parental Alienation does not consist of physical or sexual abuse. It is not a tactic. Parental Alienation restricts the child from receiving love from both parents. The consequences are listless behavior, self-loathing, anxiety, depression and low self- esteem The results, without intervention, are often life long consequences that may be manifested as poor social adjustment, divorces, guilt, shame and an array of other intra and inter personal problems— Monika Logan
“Though it might seem an obvious point, not everyone agrees that a child’s unreasonable denigration and rejection of a parent should be considered an abnormal development worthy of professional attention. One author believes it is possible that parental alienation is a normal part of growing up . She argued that we have no basis for regarding parental alienation as abnormal because we lack normative data from intact and low-conflict divorced families, i.e., we lack research on the prevalence of this phenomenon. The position that it might be normal for children to be alienated from their parents is inconsistent with the scientific literature. It overlooks research on children’s adjustment in divorced families and on healthy parent-child relations in intact families.” Dr. Richard Warshak 2001
Bruises, Barriers, and Blind Feminists: Denial of Parental Alienation Hurts us All by Monika Logan, LBSW. Please see article, by Preston Thymes
Prior to 1985 people went through divorces. The couples that could not divorce amicably manifested similar patterns, just as they do today. Also, prior to 1985 women obtained custody more often than men. Keep in mind that divorces in the 1980s, similar to today, had a portion that were high conflict. When Garder started observing these cases (not causing the high-conflict, just observing) he noted that, “in about 85% to 90% of the cases the mother was the alienating parent and the father the targeted parent.” Gardner’s work in the 1980s reflected the court system and societal changes, not his personal agenda. Yet, some cannot understand this. He noted, “And I, as the person who first wrote on the phenomenon, was viewed as being biased against women and as being “sexist.” No one denies that PAS may have misconstrued in some cases and that children’s alienation has been utilized as a cover-up and diversionary maneuver designed to deflect exposure of their abuse/neglect (Gardner,2002). Do the painful tragedies of the few but often true, outweigh the heartbreak and mental demise of the majority of children that are in the middle of custody battles? High Conflict divorces makes up about 10% (Center for Divorce Education). We should not ignore this 10%.
As a woman and feminist, I recently reviewed the Power and Control Wheel; I might have missed something during my time at a women’s shelter. Part of the Wheel includes “Using Children” where the children are used to relay messages, visitations are spent harassing, and children are used as threats (that they might be taken away). In PA a parent continues harassing and controlling the ex-partner by manipulating the children to turn against the parent. Parental Alienation shares a lot of commonalities. As a starter, both have vindictive ex-spouses. In both PA and Domestic violence, children are placed in the middle and ultimately both have children that are living without a parent. In PA a parent continues harassing and controlling the ex-partner by manipulating the children to turn against the parent. This controlling element, as I recall, also occurs in DV. Denying PA is to deny mental abuse of children. What about manipulation? You may not be bruised and the kids may not be bruised, so the “proof” might be hard to bring up in court. Thus, if one does not have a bruise, you must not have endured DV? What about internal scars of children?
Lastly, I thought Feminist theory included that all types of oppression were recognized? This means both women and men. Is not having your child turned against you a form of oppression? I would think every feminist should be angered by the possibility of having a child turned against them without just cause. Yet, some may believe that any “weak” woman would not let this happen. Do we not advocate for the disadvantaged women as well? Do not think your above having your ex-spouse out purchase you and manipulate your kids with material gifts. What about the disadvantaged men? I thought feminist theory utilized an egalitarian approach to logic? This includes both women and men that espouse feminist theory.