Monday, April 4, 2011

Parental Alienation: Who's Best Interest?

Our children are not born to hate, they are raised to hate. — Thomas della Peruta

If you don't know what "parental alienation" is, you probably haven't had the pleasure of a divorce with children; let alone the war of a "high profile" custody dispute. Us veterans know exactly what it means--agony for a noncustodial parent and emotional problems for children alienated from a parent.
Parental alienation unfortunately, that is one of those topics that unless you yourself or you are close to someone who has experienced such a thing you probably have no idea what it is. It's one of those entities of a bigger issue that's been left out of attention. As child abuse we all know about physical abuse, sexual, mental, and emotional, but parental alienation rarely ever receives the spot light. Unfortunately, in spite of its little attention it is a form of child abuse with a higher rate of the physical forms.

As a result of both of my own children and step-children's experiences of parental alienation, that after two years later of the signing of papers, which mildly continues to this day, I petitioned the governor of my state for the proclamation of Parental Alienation Awareness Day, April 25th 2011. On March 31, 2011, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed my proclamation.

Proclamation is defined as: Evidence; The act of causing some state matters to be published or made generally known. A written or printed document in which are contained such matters, issued by proper authority; as the president's proclamation, the governor's, the mayor's proclamation. An act that formally declares to the general public that the government has acted in a particular way. A written or printed document issued by a superior government executive, such as the president or governor, which sets out such a declaration by the government.

Ironically, in spite of the fact that parental alienation is mental and psychological manipulation of a child which drastically harms them mentally, emotionally, and psychology, technically it is not recognized by the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association. It is however recognized in many other states in the U.S. and in areas in Canada.

Taking a step forward, many courts have acknowledged it, however...  There is a fine line as to which either to tread or not to cross when it comes who to protect. Many courts have all but shed the criteria of, "do what's best for the child," and adopted the motto of, "let's do this until you two stop bickering."

Of course the ultimate goal should be to protect a child from any physically or emotionally/psychologically abusive parent. In some moronic twisted reasoning courts have ordered some children unsupervised visitation with both parents. Why is this moronic? For one, their reasoning. The idea of equal time is to punish the alienating (accuser) while at the same time protecting the child. Ok, I can get that. The other is so the accused gets equal time with the intent they are not alienated. I can see how this can help relieve the alienating, but what of any accusations? If there are not any then maybe problem solved. But the ultimate question is whether or not is better or not err in favor of protecting a parent's relationship with their children, a child's well-being, punish the accuser, protect the judge, or intervene on behalf of a set of parents and their children.

The judge, my ex-wife's attorney, not even the attorney I had appointed for my own children were willing to recognize the parental alienation going on with my children.

Capital Weekly article quoted: 'Parental Alienation is a perilous accusation that should never be recognized in courts or viewed as particularly compelling in cases deciding the custody of a child, especially when resolving profound difficult questions concerning the scary scenario of placing that child back into the home of a domestic violence abuser."

So the AMA and APA doesn't recognize it. It is not found in the Harvard Medical School Countway Library stacks of the History of medicine and medical. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist. To conclude that it didn't exist just because two professional entities haven't recognized it is equivalent of concluding that neither Parkinson's or Bipolar aren't real because it's impossible to "put your exact finger" on their cause. Both of their diagnoses are a process of elimination without any conclusive test.

Up until 1968 ADHD was figured as "minimal brain damage," "minimal brain dysfunction," and "learning/behavioral disabilities? It wasn't until then the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for the American Psychological Association (DSM-II) was the name changed to "ADD with or without hyperactivity." Then in 1987 the name was changed again to stand alone ADHD for the DSM-III and remains to this day. This is only one example of how the recognition and evolution of a, for lack of better terms "disorder" changes with through time with our society.

Even now the revision of the DSM-V is under way with the proposal of revisions for well over 30 major categories and their sub-categories bringing many changes with some new diagnosis and some being dropped.

Changes throughout the past years were due to disorders and conditions that have become recognized or as a result of changes in society. Changes in our society is one of the main reasons for awareness. We become used to things that we become blind when things are harmful and minimize them. It's not until people begin to see what's going on and decide to make others aware that things start to change.

The doctrine of the best interests of the child is something parents tend to hear in custody disputes. It is used by most courts to determine a wide range of issues. It was a joke in my custody dispute. The ball seems to get dropped as each party tends to leave it up to someone else to tend to the children in court. There are two guidelines I find are conflicting when parental alienation is present. The capacity of each parent to allow and encourage frequent and continuing contact (physical & verbal) between the child and the other parent and the preferences of the child.

With parental alienation, the alienating parent prevents, as much as possible, contact or refuses contact between the children and other (target) parent. Our children are brainwashed against the other (target) parent and many times will tell the court lies against that parent and tell they do not want to see that parent. But here lies the problem with the court. Communicating with numerous parents they are failing miserably in cases of parental alienation. And by the content of their discussions I find it hard to believe that judges and attorneys are clueless to the phenomenon of parental alienation.

This was the case in my custody dispute of false child abuse allegations. After speaking directly to my oldest son who was coached by his mother, the judge blatantly admitted he wasn't convinced of what my son told him but just to be on the safe side he ordered me supervised visitation. I took it to mean to cover his own butt. And after the papers were signed at the end of the dispute my attorney flat out asked my ex-wife's attorney's if she honestly believed I had abused my children. Her answer was, "No." So the courts are aware of the problem. But because there seems to be money made and no accountability children and parents pay the price.

It seems they have been well aware of this phenomenon for years. But getting the legal system to actually do something about it is the problem. The current penalties that judges can impose are useless. One can file contempt charges against the alienating parent. Any contempt charge is difficult to prove let alone win, and judges don't like them. This only prolongs the whole procedures buying time for the alienating parent with the children to brainwash them even more. And in the end the alienated parent may wind up being just that, alienated and hated by the child.

Alienating is a crime of hate that uses children as accomplices. What's worse is that parent will lie about lying and blame the kids for their own lying. "They are throwing a fit because they don't want to come see you and I don't want to make them have to." Even it were true, it is not a gift they wish for and hope they get it. It is about having contact and a relationship with a parent who loves them.

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

How could a child suddenly refuse or hate a parent? If you are not guilty of abuse, physical, sexual or emotional, then where does this hatred come from? Children are not born to hate. It's seeds are sown by the parents. Whether it to hate another race, religion, or person. In cases of parental alienation a child may be manipulated by a parent who want to punish the other, or for custody. Children are emotionally blackmailed by the alienator. Children are abused so that a parent can gain an advantage.

There's no need to quote statistic after statistic about how well children do when they have contact with both parents. That should go without saying, but none the less it's a well known fact and not the focus here. Awareness that leads to results is the focus. One step of awareness that leads to changes. Changes in our family court systems. Changes in post-counseling. It's been 2 years since my custody dispute has ended and my children and I continue to deal with its effects. One child continues counseling. It's the third one. It's a step of awareness towards the same recognition. of the aftermaths of other forms of child abuse, physical, sexual, emotional, and/or psychological which are in the forms of anxiety, PTSD, and depressive disorder.

The courts needs to step up and deal with the actions of parental alienation.


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Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

Blog with Integrity\\ Auhor Lupe Picazo

Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome them