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Parental Alienation: Anger and Assumptions

Parental Alienation: Anger and Assumptions

anger_iceberg

Copyright 2017 by Monika Logan, M.A., LPC, LSOTP

Human beings tend to make assumptions about the world around us and the people with whom we interact.  We take a quick glance and if someone is wearing ragged clothing, we assume he/she cannot afford a new outfit.  Perhaps a new person you met did not give a good first impression.  It is easy to assume that their “less-than” best presentation is representative of him/her or of all future interactions.  Maybe because you read a bad review about a restaurant, so rather than experiencing it for yourself, you forgo an excellent dining experience.  As applied to interactions with our children, if a child arrives home and appears irritated, we assume our child did not have a good time at the other parents home.  Or, if our child is learning well at school, outsiders may assume the child is well-adjusted and dismiss other potential problematic areas.  Yet another example, your child fails to spend time with you for a weekend or two and you assume your ex-spouse is the culprit.  You fail to recognize the child’s own contributions to the perceived rejection.  To make assumptions is to be human.

If we recognize that assumptions are part of human nature, then we are able to become cognizant of our potential assumptions and vigilantly strive to fact-check.  Engaging in meaningful conversations with others, can mitigate a lot of unnecessary blame, burden, and erroneous conclusions.  With regards to relationships, besides examining our assumptions, another area of opportunity is understanding our anger.  Similar to making assumptions, addressing anger is another part of the human condition.  It is helpful to think of anger like an iceberg.  For example, if your teenager tosses their backpack on the floor and slams the door afterschool, we observe what many would identify as anger.  However, like an iceberg, there is more going on below the surface.  Anger can manifest as the expression of other feelings that are often unseen.  Anger can be external and/or internal.  As an example, one child may become sullen and remain in his/her room, while another child may act out by kicking a closet door.  A problem arises though when we assume that the cause of the child’s anger has been created by our ex-spouse.  Certainly, in some case of alienation, a child’s anger stems from the actions of a parent who blatantly ignores a court order.  However, we must recognize that at times it appears as though our ex-spouse is mistakenly the source of our child’s anger.  It is imperative that we distinguish that many feelings are below the surface, if we are to effectively address anger.  When we fail to consider other possibilities for a child or adolescents rejection, such as his/or her own role, further problems are created.

In the area of helping alienated children and parents, quick fixes and easy answers are often highly desired and sought.  This is clearly understandable, because when we as humans hurt, we want the pain to stop.  If we are cut we reach for a Band-Aid, but deeper cuts require stitches.  We realize that time can become the enemy of a child or adolescent who is defiant and becoming contact resistant.  In pursuing help with overcoming parent-child contact problems, it is easy to gravitate to the “latest and greatest” answer(s) to alleviate our child or adolescent from psychological abuse.  Again, much like the iceberg, there are many nuances in treating alienated families.  There are often times more going on beneath the surface.  Treating a deep wound with a Band-Aid simply will not work.  What can a parent do?

  • Awareness and education are the key.
  • Early intervention is vital.
  • Check your assumptions.
  • Realize that time can be both your friend and your enemy.
  • Educate significant others about alienation.
  • A Crisis can be an opportunity to connect with an alienated child.
  • Do not counter reject your child or adolescent (think of the anger iceberg – your child does not hate you).
  • Correct your child/adolescents distorted views of you – timing is everything.  Silence is not always golden.
  • Work through intense emotions.  Help your child or adolescent understand what is going on beneath the surface.
  • Realize that hurting people act out (content and happy co-parents do not engage in constant denigration – again think of the iceberg).
  • Refrain from name calling and labeling your ex-spouse.  No, not everyone is a sociopath, borderline, and/or a narcissist.
  • Parent-child contact problems are best treated when caught early and can be corrected sooner vs. later.
  • Realize that letting go does not mean giving up (sometimes parents need a respite).

If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that sometimes our assumptions and preconceived notions are wrong, and therefore, our interpretation of events is incorrect. This causes us to overreact, to take things personally, or to judge people unfairly. ~ Elizabeth Thornton

Categories: Parents

Letting Go: When Alienated Parents Give Up

Letting Go: When Alienated Parents Give Up 

Letting Go

When a parent endures parental alienation, various emotions materialize.  Some are angry and others feel helpless.  On the other hand, a number of rejected parents evolve into dedicated empowered advocates, but just as many are depleted both physically and financially. Some parents may ask, when do I let go? Clearly, alienated parents (also known as rejected parents) are grieving parents.  In 2002 Dr. Richard Gardner wrote, “For some alienated parents the continuous heartache is similar to living death.” Sadly, for many rejected parents, the sorrow never ends.

Most are familiar with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grieving.  First is Denial.  Denial is not recognizing reality.  As noted by Dr. Gardner (2002), denying reality is obviously a maladaptive way of dealing with a situation.  In fact, denial is generally considered to be one of the defense mechanisms, mechanisms that are inappropriate, maladaptive, and pathological. Obviously, it is hard to deny that one is a rejected parent. However, at times, it may seem easier to deny that the situation is not real. To deal with the unreal, some parents may resign.  Studies indicate that some rejected parents, similar to survivors of domestic violence, become passive. (Kopetski, 1998).

Anger is another stage of the grieving process.  However, underlying anger is hurt and a loss of power and a loss of control over a situation or an event. Unquestionably, alienated parents become angry as their cases are dismissed and their cause is mocked.  Third, is bargaining. As an example, a bargaining parent may believe if they try hard enough, or say the right thing, his or her child will suddenly have a change of heart. Fourth is depression. Self-blame, hopelessness, and despair consumes their thoughts. The fifth stage, is acceptance. Clearly, rejected parents do not happily accept their plight, but they may be forced to give up “the fight.”  That is, some may cho0se to loosely let go.    

It is vital though, to consider what letting go signifies.  Letting go is not to cut oneself off, it’s the realization that one person can’t control another. As applied to parental alienation, one cannot force an ex-spouse to cease his or her hate campaign. Secondly, letting go is not to deny, but to accept.  Acceptance is realizing that some ex-spouses refuse to co-parent.  Some alienating parents intend to turn the child against the other parent–permantely. They stop at nothing.  One study depicts this unfortunate, but true, reality, “a minority of parents who suffer from personality and mental disorders may ignore the court and spend their waking hours finding ways to exhaust the other parent emotionally and financially” ( Jaffe et al. 2010). Yes; you may realize that you, or a loved one, are in the minority.

Parents may also have to accept that they may be blamed for the rejection– blamed not only by family and friends, but blamed by society.  No one likes to point fingers these days, after all;  it is socially unacceptable.  As noted by Dr. Richard Warshak (2011), attributing a parent-child problem to both parents, when one parent is clearly more responsible for destructive behavior, is a misguided effort to appear balanced and avoid blame.

When to  let go?  First and foremost; it is personal.  Dr. Warshak’s book, Divorce Poison (2010), notes that the parent may see no viable option other than to let go of active attempts to overcome the problem.  As a caveat, he notes, “I just urge all alienated parents and relatives, and all therapists who work with these families, not to wave the white flag of surrender too soon.”  He offers seven suggestions about the possibility of letting go. One suggestion is when all legal channels to improve the situation have been exhausted.

Some parents, unfortunately, have discovered the aforementioned exhaustion. As  Dr. Amy Baker reported, “alienating parents did not respect the court orders, the attorneys were not interested in or able to force the alienating parent into compliance. Apparently, once the alienating parent determined that this was the case, noncompliance became the order of the day.”  Rejected parents know all too well, that non compliance works. A second suggestion by Dr. Warshak is when, “your ex is so disturbed that a continuing battle could provoke him or her to violent action against the children or against you or other members of your family.”  Clearly, not all rejected parents have the funding to continue the battle.

As a conclusion, should you come into contact with a rejected parent it may be helpful to offer grace for his or her grief.  Each and every rejected parent differs in his or her stage of sorrow.  They will also display unique feelings.  Some may feel  discouraged, dejected, and depressed. Or, others may feel angry and outraged.  If the parent recently read about parental alienation, and discovered there is a name to the irrational rejection; they may feel relieved.  Perhaps, they are baffled, broken, and bewildered. If they have pleaded with the courts for 15 years, they may feel helpless and guarded. When their families blame them, they may become withdrawn and detached.  Regardless of the stage or feeling(s) that accompany the pain of parental alienation, rejected parents require empathy, exultation, and esteem.

Categories: Parents

Parental Alienation and HuffPo’s Divorce Section: Reality & Reason on Matrimonial Mismatch

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

Categories: Uncategorized

Offsetting Parental Alienation: Teenagers & Tactics

Offsetting Parental Alienation: Teens & Tactics By Monika Logan, LBSW   

 Dealing with Parental Alienation is tough. As noted by author of Divorce Poison, Dr. Richard Warshak, alienated parents have to develop a thick skin. There is  not  an easy answer. What works for one situation, will not work for another. Yet, keep in mind that   other disorders  also lack  clear-cut answers. A few contributing  factors are:   personality, temperament and affinity. Still, there are shared commonalities; age counts.  So does time. Time is  vital . The longer a parent hiked on the high-road, the harder the terrain will be. Exhaustion may  arrive–a little too early. Passivity may have replaced healthy activism. While we have not quite resolved the entire issue of PA, silence does not work. Silence (aka the high road) leads to dead ends, long dry spells, and boulders that will knock nearly all parents down—even those with the best preparation & territorial gear.  

 If you are a rejected parent and have contact with your alienated teenager, you probably discovered that reasoning and logic does not work. One tactic that may prove beneficial is your teens’ friends. They may possibly offset the programmed black & white thinking. Get ready. Open up your home. Grab junk food, turn up the latest hip-hop tunes and rent a couple of movies. Love others. While your own kid may dismiss you, other kids will not. In no doubt, your teen might manifest alienated behaviors such as, in your face defiance, destroying property,  or running up your water bill  just for fun;  there is nothing like an outsider thinking you are an okay parent.  

 An un-brainwashed teen frequently detests both their parent’s odd mannerisms. On the other hand, an alienated teen, views one parent as fault- free and the other as appalling. The so-called all bad parent did not have to do anything to deserve their low life status. Similarly, the favored parent did not have to do anything to earn their angelic standing. The truth is, their glorified status was achieved through shoddy tactics such as buying the teen unnecessary items while simultaneously shucking responsibility. The ex-spouse, may also have frequent pity parties making the teen feel guilty. Or, perhaps, allows the teen to blow off parental rules, values and exploit boundaries.    

Rejected parents are painfully aware that PA looks hopeless but it is not. God is bigger than parental alienation. Not long ago, a rejected mother shared what could be called a shock factor. The alienated mother is not perfect. She is average. The mother loves her teen and goes about day to day performing normal parental duties. The difference is, parenting an alienated teen is triple the pressure compared to non-alienated teens. She, like many others, lives with a spy . She also resides with a teen that disrespects her beyond the level of typical teens. One day, like many others, her teen demanded an after school meal, in his normal demeaning tone. Yet this time, the teen had a friend visiting. The mother, astonished, shared a needed assertion. The teen’s friend remarked, “I wish my mom was like yours.” The alienated mother noted that the look on her teens face was priceless. She later noted, she overheard the friend say, “Your mom is nice; you should not be so disrespectful.” And, “is she really as bad as you say?” A seed was planted.  

Without a doubt this mother was pleasantly surprised. Slowly, this mother’s teen left the house for school and actually said have a nice day, vs. slamming the door. Household items were no longer given to the ex spouse. The teen talked a little more, participated in family time, and even said thank you a time or two.  Definitely the teen was still somewhat blinded by the favored parent, but a seed was planted. The rejected parent cannot force an ex-spouse that is clearly capable of responsibility, to grow up. The rejected parent cannot rid their ex-spouses tote bag of entitlement, but it will have less impact. This story demonstrates how typical teen behaviors, such as loud music and asking for extended curfews may evolve.  

Some alienated parents use the aid of family. If the family understands alienation and does not undermine efforts, change is possible. Unfortunately, certain families follow common societal mentality. They mistakenly think if a child rejects a parent, the parent must be at fault. They believe if a teen acts nervous around a rejected parent, the parent must have done something to warrant the anxiety. The family member may, make the situation worse due to a  lack of insight. They fail to realize that if a favored parent has brainwashed a teen (starting at a young age, with the help of extended family) the teen will come to believe mom should be shunned. Accordingly, a fear response  will follow.  An outsider, another  teenager, offers random uncensored comments at unexpected times. Possibly, your teen may be shocked into thinking that maybe, just maybe, both parents are not perfect. And, given enough uncensored and un- planned comments, the teen may start to question the disrespect they dish out and the lie that one-sided family loyalty is necessary. Children should feel free to love both parents without the burden of guilt  or feelings of betrayal.

This article is not intended for any form of advice or therapy.
Categories: Parents

Parental Alienation: What Would I Think, How Would I Act? The Alienated Child by Cindy L. Corsi

Parental Alienation

 What Would I Think, How Would I Act?

The Alienated Child

By Cindy L. Corsi

 

Parents abuse their children emotionally by working to prevent or break the bond the child has with the other parent. In today’s society, both fathers and mothers are the perpetrators. Sometimes both parents manipulate the child, but often it is only one trying to pull the child onto their side while the other parent is left trying to hang on to the relationship. When children are subjected to this type of abuse early on, they lose their childhood. They become reporters, spies and alienators themselves. Entitlement and dangerous empowerment are weaved into their character. The ill-minded behavior of the twisted parent (and others associated with) manipulates the child to join their intense campaign against the other parent. The stress this puts on the child is immense. They begin to suppress feelings for the parent they are being torn from (target parent) resulting in them joining the campaign. Many parents have lost their children forever as a result. This is not the result of a fight or conflict between the parent and the child; it is a result of brainwashing!   Because of the pressures associated with alienation, it has been reported that some children have committed murder and suicide.  

Put yourself in the shoes of this alienated child who has been denied to feel and accept the love of her mother and to be able to give her love. Please read it all.

If I were this child and saw my stepmother had crossed off my mom’s name from my kindergarten folder what would I think…

If I was a small child at the age of three and my father was walking me up my driveway to mommy’s house saying “Just two more days here then you are back with us,” what would I think?

If I was a four years old and heard my father blame my mommy because I caught a cold at preschool, what would I think?

 If I was this child who was put in the bathtub right after I was picked up from my mommy’s house, what would I think?

If I was this child that was told I could not bring my belongings to my mommy’s house because they would get dirty or ruined, what would I think?

If I was this child and heard my step mother tell a friend of the family that my mommy was dirty, what would I think?

If I was this child and was told that child support money should be spent on whatever I wanted, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was told to call my daddy and step mom while at my mommy’s house in the wintertime to ask them how I should dress to go outside and play, what would I think?

If I was in first grade and my daddy, step mom, and extended family told me at the age of 12 I can choose to live with them, what would I think?  How would I act?

If I was this child and my daddy told me that if my mommy did not have me at the meeting place on time she would be arrested by the police, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this child being mouthy to my mom and she squeezed me behind my neck, I told my dad and I heard my dad tell her that if she ever touched me again he would have me arrested, what would I think, how would I act?

 If I was this small child and my mommy asked a neighborhood mom to watch me for a couple hours while taking a college class and my step mother told me she did not trust my mommy because she got a babysitter “all of the time,” what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this child and  my daddy told me that my mommy did not attend my school play, did not care about me, even though when I asked mommy about it, she said she was there and even knew what I was wearing that night, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this child who learned that complaining about my mommy pleased my daddy, step mom and their family and they all joined in with me, even rewarded me, what would I think, how would I act?

If my mommy and I had a special beauty day in the form of hair cuts, then my daddy and step mom told me my bangs were crooked, what would I think,  how would I act?

If I was this child excited to show my father a Halloween costume my mommy made and he commented, “There is glue on the wing,” then bought me a different costume to wear, what would I think?

If I was a child and my father told me to call my mommy after a school function and lie to her about something the principal never said, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this child and went to the store to pick out a new book bag with my mom, then went to my dad’s and they took me to buy another one, what would I think; how would I act?

If I was this child and my daddy and family bought me a new bedroom set, a TV, a phone, game boy, clothes, a mini bike and more for Christmas, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this child and my daddy and step mom sent food and drinks with me to my mommy’s house, what would I think?

If I was a child and told my father that I went to a different church and he told me it was not a church, what would I think, how would I act? (even though he had never been brought up in faith as a child)

If I went to the dentist with my mommy and was the best little patient, getting my first tooth pulled but then my father and step mom took me to another dentist and told me that the dentist mom took me to did not know what he was doing, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this child and my mom called my dad’s house to see how I was feeling and my step mom answered the phone and in a very angry voice said, “Your mother’s on the phone,” what would I think, how would I act?

 If I was a teen told to cut the grass with mom’s supervisions and right before I did it my dad called and said my foot was going to get cut off, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was a teen asked to find out my mom’s income tax information right before a support hearing, and I did, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this young teen and my dad took me to the court house for a child support meeting, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was this teen and was told that my mom made me change schools even though the conciliator made the decision after examining the facts, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was a child, when with my father, ignored my mom (at stores, soccer games,) but then when at her house had friends over, bonfires, etc… , how would this affect me, what would I think?

If I was a teen and got in trouble at school and my dad supported my harassing behavior toward another teen girl by taking my side and joining in on the name calling, what would I think,  how would I act?

If I was a teen mouthing off and swearing and my step mom told my father not to scold me because she said, “that is how she was raised,” what would I think, how would I act?

If I was a teen and every time I did not get my way I complained about my mom and I then was allowed to hear him cal her and yell at her,  what would I think, how would I act?

If I complained to my father and stepmom that there was not the right kind of cereal at HER house and they brought me a bag of groceries for her house, what would I think?

If I was this teen and witnessed the stepmother back her body into my mom then accuse my mom of hitting her, what would I think, how would I act?

If I was driving age and about to enter college and in order to have my car I had to live at my dad’s house, how would I act?

If I was this child, no doubt I would put in my mind to mistrust, even hate my mom because my dad and step mom and their family must know what they are talking about, for they love me. I would eventually succeed at pulling away from my mom because I know that some day I will not have a relationship with her for I have been told that I will be able to choose not to and the courts feel I am old enough to run away from what I have been brainwashed not to like.  I would build walls to protect me from the hurt when this happens and I would remain loyal to the ones who give me everything and remain in my court no matter what I do or say. .

 

If I was this child I would create conflict with my mom so she would want to give up and let me go live where I am suppose to live. I would set the stage as often as I could and even go as far as bump into her and then call the police to say she hit me to prove that she is no good like they say. For I would help them prove it.

 

If I was this child I would tell my mom” you deserve to be arrested,” after knowing my dad called to threaten her. Why not feel this way; it is exactly how my dad’s mom feels about her, my paternal grandmother.  

 

If I was this child, when my mom picked me up for her time with me I would not sit in the front with her, nor would I walk beside her if I saw my dad and stepmother in public.

 

If I was this child, I would demand material items from her because my dad gives her money. I have even been to the court house and even though the time I was there my mom cut the support in half, I still think she is nasty.  I would have an un-grateful heart for the things she buys because none of it is from her anyway. I would continue to receive but never give, including special occasions. It is all about what I get. The universe revolves around me at my dad’s house and always will.

 

If I was this child, I would not allow my mom to hug me and I would never tell her I love her again. Loving her would mean I am disloyal to my dad and stepmother. I would also not share anything fun or special that happens at my mom’s because that is not what I have been trained to do or say.  

 

If I was this child, I would not try not to touch things at my mom’s house, I would put toilet paper on the seat, wipes my hands if I accidentally touched her and not sleep on the sheets that are on the bed that once belonged to her.

 

If I was this child I would not receive calls from my mom at my dad’s in a welcome manner. I would be snide and nasty, and say, “What do you want and why are you calling here, you are wasting my time!” then understand that she does not care because she does not call while I am at my dad’s very often. And when I call her I will not refer to her as “mom.”  

 

If I was this child, I would block out any joyful, happy memories from the past and prevent any in the present, for that would be a violation. I would limit extra information to her, including school, getting my period, friends, dances and more.

 

If I was this child, I would resent my mom for making me change schools, because my dad and family told me it was her fault. I would have a hard time truly enjoying my school experience because deep down I would be holding onto resentment that has been planted there.

 

If I was this child it would be to my benefit to keep feeding my dad and step mom what they want to hear. It would become natural to me to do this because of their feedback, similar to Pavlov’s dog experiments.

 

If I was this child I would often deny that my mom is my mom. I would not acknowledge Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas or any other day that offers a chance to care. I would take from her and her family but never give in return.

 

If I was this child the message that she does not provide for me would come in loud and clear.

 

If I was this child, I would begin to hate the rest of my mom’s  family, even my older brother and my grandmother who took care of me and loved me all throughout my life. For when I have mentioned them in the past, my paternal family knows that they are also no good.  Pushing them away in a hateful manner will only make the separation easier in the future. No real loss for me.

 

If I was this child I would feel empowered but then feel confused. The confusion could lead to drugs or promiscuity, obsessive behaviors or even violence. I would not understand why I felt so much conflict inside.  I would spend a large portion of my life depressed.

 

If I was this child, I would hang onto hate and un-forgiveness, for that is what I have been taught through words and actions by people who are suppose to love and guide me in the right direction.

 

If I was this child, their antics would in fact work on me but it would cost me a lot because it would be based on emotional abuse and until I sought help to understand why people that are suppose to love me acted this way, and until they admitted they were wrong, I will struggle with relationships with myself and others.

 

If I was this child, even though I witnessed my stepmother trying to set my mother up, I would find a way to blame my mom for the incident, for my truth is truth.

Parental Alienation is un-like physical abuse because it is pre-meditated. The motive is to sever a relationship(s). Parents who emotionally abuse their children in this way often talk themselves into believing that they are acting in the best interest of the child. They convince themselves, the child, and even the courts that the other parent is incompetent or even dangerous.

Parental alienation is child abuse. Parents who continually brainwash their children need help. It is an addiction that scars a child for a lifetime. When judges, mediators are uneducated in the damaging effects of PAS on a child, and condone alienating behavior, they become part of the child abuse. They have the power to help but……..

The only solution as I see it is, like any addiction, the alienating parent  must get the proper help, admit he or she was wrong,  then openly confess to their child their destructive motives and behavior.   Then and only then will the child have a chance to heal.” _______ Cindy L. Corsi

 

Books:

“Divorce Poison” by Dr. Richard Warshak

“Adult Children of Alienation Syndrome,” by Dr. Amy Baker

“A Kidnapped Mind,” by  Pamela Richardson

Web Sites :

 http://www.parental-alienation-awareness.com/awarness-letters.asp

hugstoheartbreak.com    helpstoppas.com

Other  People  to Search:

Dr. Michael Bone           Dr. Amy Baker         Dr. Richard Warshak

Categories: Parents

Children’s Courtroom Testimony: The Sam Stone Study

 

Do Stereotypes and Suggestive Questioning Influence Children?

            Michelle D. Leichtman of the Psychology Department at Harvard University, along side of her cohort Stephen J. Ceci from the Department of Human Development at Cornell University skillfully underwent an experiment in which children’s suggestibility was questioned both in “theoretical issues surrounding memory development and applied issues surrounding children’s courtroom testimony (pg. 1).”  For many years psychologists have argued the validity of children’s memory development, especially in courtroom testimony.  The experimenters hypothesized that the younger preschoolers would be more susceptible to being influenced by certain stereotypes and that suggestive questioning may influence their opinions toward Sam Stone. 

            The Sam Stone Study (1995) included one hundred and seventy-six preschoolers (male and female) including a variety of ethnic groups, with different social backgrounds were split into two groups by age.  The younger children (3- and 4-year-olds) and older preschoolers (5- and 6-year-olds) were assigned a classroom consisting of eight children in all, yet they were not randomly chosen from the whole group.  The children were not tested individually, and “were assigned to one of four conditions, denoted as follows: 

(a) control, (b) stereotype, (c) suggestion, and (d) stereotype plus suggestion (pg. 2).”  The main event was the visit of an unfamiliar person named Sam Stone who visited all of the preschoolers in each of their separate conditions.        

The control condition consisted of no stereotypes and no suggestions, while the stereotype condition was manipulated by particular advice given to the child by the experimenter one month before Sam Stone visited.  Sam Stone was said to be very kind, yet a little clumsy.  The suggestion condition, on the other hand, used probing questions with suggestive meaning put forth after Sam Stone’s visit.  The questions asked if the child saw Sam Stone do anything in particular to a teddy bear or book.  The stereotype plus suggestion group was a combination of the two prior conditions mentioned.  Now the researchers had to log certain erroneous statements that each child recollected from Sam Stone’s visit in every different condition.

This study was created with great detail and handled with precise research methods.  Leichtman and Ceci proved that preschoolers could be influenced or persuaded by stereotypes or led on by suggestive probing questions.  In the control group, none of the children made false allegations throughout their free narrative even through the fifth interview, and only ten percent of the youngest preschoolers claimed that they saw Sam Stone do anything with a teddy bear or a book.  In the stereotype condition there was an increase in erroneous answers by the children, yet more so within the younger preschoolers.  Thirty seven percent of the children influenced by the stereotype said they saw Sam Stone do something with either the teddy bear or the book.  But if asked if they actually saw Stone do the misdeed, the percentage of erroneous statements decreased.  Within the suggestive condition, the children actually said that they observed Sam Stone damage either item in their narrative.  The flawed answers from the children significantly rose when the probing questions were asked.  Finally, the stereotype plus suggestion group held more mistaken answers by the children than any other group.  The children’s answers when subjected to both of the manipulations were definitely impaired by this outside influence.

Throughout this research, the conclusion should stand to prove that children’s suggestibility could be manipulated.  Therefore, children should not be used in courtroom testimony, especially younger preschoolers.  The memory development of children is not up to its full potential, thus children in these conditions could give many erroneous answers.  If professionals could not tell the difference between the children who were telling the truth, then the judge should think twice before letting testimony from children be creditable.

References

Leichtman, M. D. & Ceci, S. J. (1995).  “The Effects of Stereotypes and Suggestions on

  Preschoolers’ Reports.”  Developmental Psychology, 31(4), 568-578.

Categories: Peer Review

Parental Alienation: A Sample of Pertinent Findings

Regarding Target Parents

 

 

 “We consider Parental Alienation Syndrome as a childhood disorder caused by an alienating parent sharing primitive defenses with a vulnerable child against a target parent. The sharing of primitive defenses helps the child maintain a pathological symbiosis with the idealized alienating parent who is seen as all good while the target parent is seen as all bad. Projective identification is used to blame and provoke the target parent. We found little support for the idea that the target parent is similar in dynamics to the alienating parent. When the target parent significantly contributes to the alienation of the child, according to our findings, then Kelly and Johnston’s definition of the estranged child seems more appropriate than PAS.” (Gordon, Stoffey, & Botinelli, 2008)

 

Regarding Misuse

 

 

 

“In some instances, the concept of parental alienation has been misused by abusive parents to hide their behavior. However, just because the concept of parental alienation has been misused does not mean the concept of parental alienation should be denied its place as a recognized diagnosis for mainstream psychology and psychiatry. In fact, the psychiatric diagnosis that is most misused in legal settings is posttraumatic stress disorder. In personal injury lawsuits, the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder in an alleged victim may be inappropriately used to prove that the individual actually sustained a severe trauma. Also, military veterans and workers’ compensation claimants sometimes malinger posttraumatic stress disorder in order to receive disability benefits. However, posttraumatic stress disorder should not be deleted from the DSM simply because it is sometimes misused.” (Bernet, 2008)

 

Regarding Common Sense

 

 

 

“If a child begins to develop racial hatred, many reasonable people would consider this a problem worthy of attention. When children suffer from irrational anxieties that interfere with functioning, we do not ignore the suffering with the hope that eventually the fears will be overcome. We try to alleviate the fears in order to improve the child’s current quality of life. Pathologically alienated children cannot experience or share affectionate feelings toward a parent. It would seem that this disturbance warrants at least as much concern as other irrational aversions.” (Warshak, 2006)

 

You Are Not Alone

 

 

“Reading other’s accounts—many true—can help alleviate the feelings of rage and helplessness that accompany being the victim of an injustice such as PAS. Knowing that others have traveled the same path may lesson the sense of being personally singled out for such suffering. In most of the stories about PAS, the victimization of the targeted parent is unmistakably portrayed (although the targeted parent’s human imperfections are also apparent). There can be no doubt in reading these stories that the targeted parent did not deserve or ask for the rejection and hostility of their children. These stories, thus, can serve as an antidote to the blame and shame targeted parents may feel. Understanding that the targeted parent did not deserve the alienation and that this is part of a larger systemic problem (the adversarial legal system, personality disorder of the alienating parent, vulnerabilities within the child) can be an empowering process.” (Baker, 2006)

 

Target Parents May Be Average Parents Similar to the Rest of the Population

 

 

 

“Contrary to what might easily be assumed by professionals, this study suggests that PAS does not necessarily signify dysfunction in either the alienated parent or in the relationship between that parent and child. PAS appears to be primarily a Function of the pathology of the alienating parent and that parent’s relationship with the children. Children are apt to be susceptible to alienation when they perceive that the alienating parent’s emotional survival or the survival of their relationship with the alienating parent is dependent upon the child’s rejection of the other parent. This is consistent with the finding of Johnston et al. (1987) in which they noted a tendency for children to be protective toward a fragile parent when the parents were entrenched in disputes over custody and access.” ( Hedrick & Dunne, 1994).

Categories: Peer Review
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