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Posts Tagged ‘Fatherless Children’

Men’s Rights – Feminism should be about equality for males, too. – Reason Magazine

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-V, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Protective Dads on November 24, 2009 at 12:58 am

Men’s Rights

Feminism should be about equality for males, too.

Earlier this month DoubleX, Slate’s short-lived female-oriented publication (launched six months ago and about to be folded back into the parent site as a women’s section), ran an article ringing the alarm about the dire threat posed by the power of the men’s rights movement. But the article, written by New York-based freelance writer Kathryn Joyce and titled “Men’s Rights’ Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective,” says more about the state of feminism—and journalistic bias—than it does about men’s groups.

Joyce’s indictment is directed at a loose network of activists seeking to raise awareness and change policy on such issues as false accusations of domestic violence, the plight of divorced fathers denied access to children, and domestic abuse of men. In her view, groups such as RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) and individuals like columnist and radio talk show host Glenn Sacks are merely “respectable” and “savvy” faces for what is actually an anti-female backlash from “angry white men.”

As proof of this underlying misogyny, Joyce asserts that men who commit “acts of violence perceived to be in opposition to a feminist status quo” are routinely lionized in the men’s movement. This claim is purportedly backed up with a reference that, in fact, does not in any way support it: an article in Foreign Policy about the decline of male dominance around the globe. Joyce’s one specific example is that the diary of George Sodini, a Pittsburgh man who opened fire on women in a gym in retaliation for feeling rejected by women, was reposted online by the blogger “Angry Harry” as a wake-up call to the Western world that “it cannot continue to treat men so appallingly and get away with it.” But does this have anything to do with more mainstream men’s rights groups? The original version of the article claimed that Sacks, who called “Harry” an “idiot” in his interview with Joyce, nonetheless “cautiously defends” the blogger; DoubleX later ran a correction on this point.

Sacks himself admits to Joyce that the men’s movement has a “not-insubstantial lunatic fringe.” Yet in her eyes, even the mainstream men’s groups are promoting a dangerous agenda, above all infiltrating mainstream opinion with the view that reports of domestic violence are exaggerated and that a lot of spousal abuse is female-perpetrated. The latter claim, Joyce asserts, comes from “a small group of social scientists” led by “sociologist Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire, who has written extensively on female violence.” (In fact, Straus, founder of the renowned Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, is a pre-eminent scholar on family violence in general and was the first to conduct national surveys on the prevalence of wife-beating.)

Joyce repeats common critiques of Straus’ research: For instance, he equates “a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs” or “a single act of female violence with years of male abuse.” Yet these charges have been long refuted: Straus’ studies measure the frequency of violence and specifically inquire about which partner initiated the physical violence. Furthermore, Joyce fails to mention that virtually all social scientists studying domestic violence, including self-identified feminists such as University of Pittsburgh psychologist Irene Frieze, find high rates of mutual aggression.

Reviews of hundreds of existing studies, such as one conducted by University of Central Lancashire psychologist John Archer in a 2000 article in Psychological Bulletin, have found that at least in Western countries, women are as likely to initiate partner violence as men. While the consequences to women are more severe—they are twice as likely to report injuries and about three times more likely to fear an abusive spouse—these findings also show that men hardly escape unscathed. Joyce claims that “Straus’ research is starting to move public opinion,” but in fact, some of the strongest recent challenges to the conventional feminist view of domestic violence—as almost invariably involving female victims and male batterers—come from female scholars like New York University psychologist Linda Mills.

Contrary to Joyce’s claims, these challenges, so far, have made very limited inroads into public opinion. One of her examples of the scary power of men’s rights groups is that “a Los Angeles conference this July dedicated to discussing male victims of domestic violence, ‘From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,’ received positive mainstream press for its ‘inclusive’ efforts.'” In fact, the conference—which featured leading researchers on domestic violence from several countries, half of them women, and focused on much more than just male victims—received virtually no mainstream press coverage. One of the very few exceptions was a column I wrote for The Boston Globe, also reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Whatever minor successes men’s groups may have achieved, the reality is that public policy on domestic violence in the U.S. is heavily dominated by feminist advocacy groups. For the most part, these groups embrace a rigid orthodoxy that treats domestic violence as male terrorism against women, rooted in patriarchal power and intended to enforce it. They also have a record of making grotesquely exaggerated, thoroughly debunked claims about an epidemic of violence against women—for instance, that battering causes more hospital visits by women every year than car accidents, muggings, and cancer combined.

These advocacy groups practically designed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and they dominate the state coalitions against domestic violence to which local domestic violence programs must belong in order to qualify for federal funds. As a result of the advocates’ influence, federal assistance is denied to programs that offer joint counseling to couples in which there is domestic violence, and court-mandated treatment for violent men downplays drug and alcohol abuse (since it’s all about the patriarchy).

Against the backdrop of this enforced party line, Joyce is alarmed by the smallest signs that men’s rights groups may be gaining even a modest voice in framing domestic violence policy. She points out that in a few states, men’s rights activists have succeeded in “criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases” (this is apparently meant to be a bad thing) and “winning rulings that women-only shelters are discriminatory” (in fact, the California Court of Appeals ruled last year that state-funded domestic violence programs that refuse to provide service to abused men violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection, but also emphasized that the services need not be identical and coed shelters are not required).

To bolster her case, Joyce consistently quotes advocates—or scholars explicitly allied with the advocacy movement, such as Edward Gondolf of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute—to discredit the claims of the men’s movement. She also repeats uncorroborated allegations that many leaders of the movement are themselves abusers, but offers only one specific example: eccentric British activist Jason Hatch, who once scaled Buckingham Palace in a Batman costume to protest injustices against fathers, and who was taken to court for allegedly threatening one of his ex-wives during a custody dispute.

The article is laced with the presumption that, with regard to both general data and individual cases, any charge of domestic violence made by a woman against a man must be true.

One case Joyce uses to illustrate her thesis is that of Genia Shockome, who claimed to have been severely battered by her ex-husband Tim and lost custody of her two children after being accused of intentionally alienating them from their father. Yet Joyce never mentions that Shockome’s claims of violent abuse were unsupported by any evidence, that she herself did not mention any abuse in her initial divorce complaint, or that three custody evaluators—including a feminist psychologist who had worked with the Battered Women’s Justice Center at Pace University—sided with the father.

More than a quarter-century ago, British feminist philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards wrote, “No feminist whose concern for women stems from a concern for justice in general can ever legitimately allow her only interest to be the advantage of women.” Joyce’s article is a stark example of feminism as exclusive concern with women and their perceived advantage, rather than justice or truth.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.com. She is the author of Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality. This article originally appeared at Forbes.

Men’s Rights – Reason Magazine.

Dad tales of desperate and defeated, or deadbeat

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, judicial corruption, Liberty, Marriage, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on November 23, 2009 at 3:45 am

Dad tales of desperate and defeated, or deadbeat

LESLIE CANNOLD

November 22, 2009 – 8:42AM

In recent weeks, I seem to have become a bloke magnet. Two weeks ago at the State Library cafe and one night last week at my usual watering hole, I’ve had men in my ear. Sweet men, sad men, vulnerable men – some recently divorced, others single for years – crooning variations on the same tragic tale. A tale about children they love but no longer see.

Once, I would have called them deadbeat dads. My own parents split when I was young but my father maintained scrupulous contact with my brother and me, and was dismissive of men who didn’t. And I knew the facts: that about 30 per cent of Aussie kids rarely or ever see the father who doesn’t live with them; and that before 1989, when the law gave men a choice about chipping in financially to support their children, only about one-third did.

But as I listened to the stories of these grieving men, the moral issue was no longer clear. There is no shortage of grievances, legitimate and otherwise, when a couple splits. But when fathers want to share care of their children but are granted access only on weekends – leaving the Child Support Agency as the only institution affirming the role of men in their children’s lives post-divorce – something seems amiss.

‘‘I was more than a wallet to those children,’’ the man in the cafe told me. ‘‘I parented them.’’ Later, a diary he had kept of his daughter’s first words and subsequent language development would arrive in the mail: proof of his commitment and grief.

The bloke at the bar, let’s call him Barry, was less certain of what he had to offer to his daughter who is three, no four, no three. He hadn’t seen her in years. ‘‘I don’t even have a place to live at the moment,’’ he confessed. ‘‘Had all my ID stolen a few months ago and been couch-surfing for the past three weeks.’’ I heard the rest of his sentence as if he’d spoken it aloud. ‘‘I wouldn’t be good for her, anyway.’’
‘‘She told me to bugger off,’’ he continued, speaking of his former partner, a girl he’d got pregnant, then agreed to support. He sipped his beer primly before cracking a wooden smile. ‘‘So I did.’’

But here’s the real question. Does the fact that many men feel sad when made to feel surplus to requirements in their own children’s life – disenfranchised by the legal system or their former spouse – mean they’ve been wronged?  Not necessarily. The terrible truth is that when relationships break down, what is in the best interests of children may not be what’s best for men.

Research by Australian researcher  Jennifer McIntosh finds that shared care is not the best arrangement for very young children and only works well for older kids where parents are emotionally mature and get along well. Men incapable of resolving the substance abuse, anger management or emotional issues that can contribute to relationship breakdown in the first place may not be the best influence on children, including their own.

And according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, there is ‘‘compelling evidence’’ that it is parental conflict and the negative economic consequences of divorce, not fatherlessness per se, that is costly for children of divorce. Deadbeat dads, or desperate, defeated and driven-away ones? You decide.

Do you have a moral issue you need resolve? Send it to Leslie@Cannold.com. All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.

Dad tales of desperate and defeated, or deadbeat.

Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting, Sociopath on November 5, 2009 at 6:30 pm

The American Journal of Family Therapy, 21(3), 205-215, 1993

Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Glenn F. Cartwright
Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, McGill University

3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

Abstract

The newness of the parental alienation syndrome (PAS) compels its redefinition and refinement as new cases are observed and the phenomenon becomes better understood. New evidence suggests that alienation may be provoked by other than custodial matters, that cases of alleged sexual abuse may be virtual, that slow judgements by courts exacerbate the problem, that prolonged alienation of the child may trigger other forms of mental illness, and that too little remains known of the long term consequences to alienated children and their families.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), first defined by Gardner (1985), results from the attempt by one parent (usually the custodial parent and usually but not always the mother) to behave in such a way as to alienate the child or children from the other parent. It includes a series of conscious programming techniques like “brainwashing” as well as subconscious and unconscious processes by the alienating parent combined with the child’s own contribution denigrating the allegedly hated parent (Gardner, 1992).

Gardner (1992) lists eight, broad manifestations indicative of PAS. First, there is a campaign of denigration in which there is the continuing profession of hatred of the absent parent by the child. This litany is easily evoked by teachers, lawyers, judges, or social workers and is often most strong in the presence of the “hated” parent. The child begins to withdraw from the lost parent, speaks indirectly (“You tell Daddy I don’t want to see him”), and avoids taking clothes or toys home from the lost parent to avoid “contaminating” the favored parent. Chameleon-like (Johnston, Campbell, & Mayers, 1985), the child may initially experiment, denigrating each parent while with the other, covering his or her tracks by extracting promises from each not to tell the other. However, as the years go by, the child learns that what “sells” best is whatever tale is told in the custodial home–the home base where most of the child’s time is spent. Children quickly learn on which side their bread is buttered.

Second, there are weak, frivolous, or absurd rationalizations given by the child for deprecating the lost parent. “He makes noise when he eats.” “He took me to Disneyland when I didn’t want to go.” “He always talks about moon rockets.” “He makes me take out the trash.” This is the child’s expression of a parallel phenomenon seen by lawyers in alienating parents:

…in parental alienation syndrome, the hostility of the alienating client just never seems to be reasonably linked to the seriousness of the incidents alleged. The alienating client often relies blithely on his child’s professed refusal to see the other parent as evidence of the inadequacy of the other parent (Goldwater, 1991, p. 125).

Coupled with this is a complete lack of ambivalence in both the alienating parent and the child which normally typifies all human relationships. Lawyers see it in their alienating clients:

The insistence upon the negative aspects of the spouse’s character and behaviour coupled with the inability to see existing or even potential positive traits in the spouse are manifestations of an alienating attitude. Such a client appears to objectify his spouse as an evil thing, no longer a person with at least a few redeeming qualities. There is a loss of the ambivalence which characterizes healthy human relationships. Indeed, such objectification of the spouse as “all bad” should be taken to be a sign of significant disorder in the client himself (Goldwater, 1991, pp. 125-126).

Similarly, PAS children …express themselves like perfect little photocopies of the alienating parent (Goldwater, 1991, p. 126) and can see no good in the lost parent and no bad in the loved parent. Given a list of “good” things the child did with the lost parent, the child will explain a few as being unenjoyable, others as being forced, still others as “all Dad’s idea”, and claim no memory of the rest. The process resembles amnesia wherein the child’s good memories appear to be completely destroyed.

Fourth, there is the contention that the decisions to reject the parent are the child’s. This is referred to by Gardner (1992) as the “Independent Thinker” phenomenon and is often invoked by alienating parents in courtroom testimony. “I want him to see his father but if he doesn’t want to, I will fight to the end to ensure his decision is respected.” However, as Goldwater (1991, p. 133) has argued:

No custodial parent would expect a judge to accept that the child be permitted not to attend school because he didn’t feel like going. Why then should a judge accept that a child not visit his other parent for the same reason?

Children who claim to be their own thinkers often use words and phrases of the alienating parent which belie their claim. Similarly, alienating parents often act in ways as that indicate the idea to reject a parent was not the child’s own. Says Gardner (1992):

Children are not born with genes that program them to reject a father. Such hatred is environmentally induced, and the most likely person to have brought about the alienation is the mother (p. 75).

Fifth, there is an almost automatic, reflexive support by the child for the loved parent. Understandably, this reflexive support may flow either from a belief that the loved parent is an ideal person who can do no wrong or from the child’s perception of the loved parent as the weaker of the two parents who needs defending.

Sixth, there is an almost complete absence of guilt regarding the feelings of the lost parent. “He doesn’t deserve to see me.” Gratitude for gifts, favors, or child support is non-existent. believes thatGardner (1992):

The lack of guilt here is not simply explained by cognitive immaturity (often the case of very young children), but is a statement of the degree to which children can be programmed to such points of cruelty that they are totally oblivious to the effects of their sadism on innocent victims (p. 77).

Seventh, is the presence of borrowed scenarios. The litanies the children produce have a rehearsed, coached quality to them and often include expressions and phrases of the loved parent. “Daddy’s new girlfriend is a whore!” Are these the words of a five-year-old?

Finally, there is an obvious spread of the animosity to the hated parent’s extended family. “His mother called me a brat.” Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all tarred with the same brush as the child argues that all they do is try to get him or her to “like” the lost parent.

Though these are the classic manifestations PAS, the newly recognized nature of the syndrome compels its definitional refinement and enlargement as new parameters are discovered. This is especially important given the contention that the problem is growing in our society and now affects 90% of all children in custody litigation (Gardner, 1992). The following observations suggest that the parameters of PAS may be wider than previously believed.

1. Parental alienation syndrome may be precipitated by parental disagreements on matters other than custody.

It was originally suggested that PAS was a relatively new disorder emanating principally from changes in the criteria by which custody was decided. These criteria basically concerned the court’s shift toward the best-interests-of-the-child presumption (favoring the placement of the child with the parent who would best meet the child’s needs) at the expense of the tender-years presumption (always favoring the placement of the child with the mother), and the court’s increasing preference for joint custody rather than sole custody placements. Since PAS is of a serious nature, it seemed reasonable to suppose that it would be provoked only by an equally serious emotional dispute, such as the question of custody is for most parents. However, while disagreement over custody remains implicated as the chief cause of PAS, it now appears that other, non-custodial disagreements on such matters as finance, property division, or child support may also trigger the syndrome by inducing an emotional climate conducive to PAS. This suggests that the etiology of PAS may be much broader than previously believed. If it is really the intensity of the emotional conflict between the estranged spouses which provokes PAS, then it must be wondered whether virtually any disagreement, serious or frivolous, may be a potential trigger. Similar parallels are found in other examples of human behavior: neighbors who stab each other over a noisy lawn mower and motorists who shoot each other over an illegal turn. To an observer, such consequent behavior is clearly out of proportion to the precipitating event. An illegal turn does not cause murder, but it may trigger an emotional state which does. So it may be with PAS. Whatever the precipitating disagreement, it may be just enough to trigger an irrational emotional state conducive to PAS.

Unfortunately, because PAS results from the interaction of the alienating parent with the child, wherein each reinforces the other, once the vicious circle has begun, it becomes self-reinforcing, complex to diagnose, and difficult to terminate. Complicating matters is the fact that PAS may be encouraged by third parties: a new spouse, new in-laws, or even unscrupulous lawyers whose wish it may be to extend rather than resolve the litigation.

2. Allegations of fabricated sexual abuse may be virtual.

Since the designation of PAS is inappropriate in cases where abuse is real, it has been customary (and necessary for the good of the child) first to distinguish between allegations of abuse that are real and those that are fabricated. Gardner (1991) has outlined how fabricated abuse may be detected. However, in the cases of fabricated abuse, a new and more subtle variety of allegation is beginning to appear. I have called these virtual allegations.They refer to those cases in which the abuse is only hinted, its real purpose being to cast aspersions on the character of the noncustodial parent in a continuing program of denigration. For the alienator, virtual allegations avoid the need to fabricate incidents of alleged abuse with their attendant possibility of detection and probability of punishment for perjury. For example, in one case, though no sexual abuse was ever alleged, it was hinted at in the allegation by the mother that the father had shown the child a rented videotape containing pornography. Though the videotape was a Hollywood comedy starring Chevy Chase rented from a family video store and chosen by the child, the mother asserted in court that the child was disappointed in the movie because it was suggestive, erotic, and pornographic. After interviewing the child extensively, the judge disagreed that the movie was pornographic and said that while the child was indeed disappointed with the film, it was not because the film was pornographic but because it wasn’t funny. The number of virtual allegations of abuse may be expected to increase in the future because of their more subtle nature, the greater difficulty in disproving them, and because judges and lawyers familiar with PAS are becoming increasingly skilled at detecting outright fabrications.

3. Time heals all wounds, except alienation.

There is some evidence that adolescents who experienced parental separation most recently were most likely to be affected adversely (Frost & Pakiz, 1990). While this tends to support the old adage that time heals all wounds, such is not the case with PAS, where the passage of time worsens rather than heals the affliction. This is not to say that time is unimportant: on the contrary, time remains a vital variable for all the players. To heal the relationship, the child requires quality time with the lost parent to continue and repair the meaningful association that may have existed since birth. This continued communication also serves as a reality check for the child to counter the effects of ongoing alienation at home. Likewise, the lost parent needs time with the child to ensure that contact is not completely lost and to prevent the alienation from completely destroying what may be left of a normal, loving relationship. Time used in these ways helps to counter the negative effects of alienation.

The alienating parent, on the other hand, requires time to complete the brainwashing of the child without interference. The manipulation of time becomes the prime weapon in the hands of the alienator who uses it to structure, occupy, and usurp the child’s time to prevent “contaminating” contact with the lost parent, depriving both of their right to spend time together and furthering the goal of total alienation. Unlike cases of child abuse where time away from the abuser sometimes helps in repairing a damaged relationship, in PAS time away from the lost parent furthers the goal of alienation. The usual healing properties of time are lost when it is used as the primary weapon to inflict injury on the lost parent by alienating the child.

There is another reason why time is so important a weapon in the hands of the alienator. With the passage of time, the child grows to be staunch collaborator. A judge who might not listen to a nine-year-old pleading not to see his or her father, might be more disposed to listen to an older, “wiser”, and more articulate thirteen-year-old. Spreading out the court proceedings over time not only aids in the brainwashing and contributes to the wearing down of the petitioner but ensures for the alienator a stronger child ally when a final court date is set.

So it is that time is often “bought” through false allegations, by assertions the child is in danger from contact with the lost parent, and by requests to the court for delays, continuances, and postponements. Sometimes even psychological assessment and psychiatric evaluation are pressed into service as part of the delaying tactic, then dropped when the sought-after delay has been achieved. On other occasions psycho-legal expertise is advanced …with the psychologist cast as the hired gun engaged to put forth to the court the negative opinion of the contesting parent under the guise of an “expertise” (Goldwater, 1991, p. 123). The goal of the alienator is crystalline: deprive the lost parent, not only of the child’s time, but of the time of childhood.

4. The degree of alienation in the child is directly proportional to the time spent alienating.

Alienation does not occur overnight. It is a gradual and consistent process that is directly related to the time spent alienating. The longer the child or children spend with the alienator, the more severe will be their alienation. Their supposed hatred of the lost parent does not lessen with time away from that parent but rather grows stronger, precisely because in the hands of the alienator they are continually taught hatred, have unlimited opportunity to practice that hatred, and have no time at all to learn an alternate response. This is one of the reasons why, in serious cases, Gardner (1992) recommends complete removal of the child from the alienating parent, with supervised visitation reinstated gradually.

5. Courts slow to render judgements may unwittingly further the alienating parent’s scheme of alienation.

The court needs time too, to assess each case. Taking the best interests of the child to be paramount, and always moving cautiously, the court must ensure that the child is in no danger and determine if the case is truly one of parental alienation. But once the determination of PAS has been made, speedy judgement must be rendered to stop the alienation process immediately. Both the child and the petitioning parent deserve no less. Unfortunately, court postponements and continuances are more often the rule than the exception. Proceedings which are dragged out after a determination of PAS has been made, judgements which fail to take into account fully the rights of the non-custodial parent, and unnecessary interim judgements and delays, however well-intentioned, sadly tend to favor the continuation of the custodial parent’s alienating behavior.

The judicial wish to maintain the status quo in the lives of children pending the outcome of hotly contested litigation may work in favour of an alienating custodial parent. The longer the children are in a non-supportive environment, the further they will drift away from their non-custodial parent (Goldwater, 1991, p. 130).

While there is no denying that courts have a difficult job at best, on balance it would appear that the prevailing tendency has been toward delaying judgement in the hope that the problem will go away, solve itself, or at the very least prove that no judgement is preferable to a wrong judgement. Courts must resist this tendency which doubtless is harmful to PAS children in the long run. More than two decades ago, Watson (1970, p.64) wrote of the court’s slowness in rendering decisions:

The most serious aspect of these vacillating and dilatory tactics is the effect they have on the children. As will be noted, one of the critical aspects of a child’s development is the need for stability in order to develop a sense of identity. When a child is kept suspended, never quite knowing what will happen to him next, he must likewise suspend the shaping of his personality. This is a devastating result and probably represents one of the greatest risks which current procedures pose for children.

Little seems to have changed: where PAS is concerned, it remains a case of “Justice delayed is lost parent denied.”

6. Forceful judgement is required to counter the force of alienation.

The role of the court in cases of PAS goes beyond simply deciding custody issues. First, the precedent of clear, forceful judgement may deter some parents from beginning the alienation of their children. As Levy (1992, p. 277) has noted:

If parents who engage in PAS know that aware judges may give custody to the innocent parent, and perhaps even apply sanctions against parents who use a child to prevent the other parent’s access to the child, the PAS, which is itself a form of child abuse, may suffer a fatal and well-deserved setback.

Second, clear and forceful judgements serve to put an immediate stop to the alienating practices (Palmer, 1988). Family courts can often be of great service in helping to work out a variety of family problems. However, in cases of PAS, courts which try to act as social workers using a “let’s-talk-this-over-and-come-to-some-agreement” approach inevitably fail when one of the feuding parties is insincere and has little wish to solve the problem. The reason is that insincerity, conscious or unconscious, is one of the hallmarks of the alienating parent. While negotiation is often the solution in other forms of litigation, it tends not to work in cases of PAS. In these circumstances, the lack of a swift, clear, forceful judgment is often perceived by the alienator as denoting approval of the alienating behavior. This tends to reinforce the behavior and renders a great disservice to both the child and the petitioning parent. Courts must do more to help; they must not fall victim to the alienator’s scheme of stalling for time in order to continue the program of vilification.

7. Excessive alienation may trigger mental illness in the child.

Johnston, Campbell, and Mayers (1985) reported that one response of latency children (6-12 years) to parental conflict was to act in a diffusely disturbed manner exhibiting anxiety, tension, depression, and psychosomatic illness. Consideration needs to be given to the question of what happens in the long run to children who are alienated. Is the problem self-limiting in that even alienation-caused wounds will heal as the child reaches adulthood? Unfortunately, alienation can become so powerful as to trigger other forms of mental and emotional illness with resultant maladaptive behavior. In one instance, an alienated son tried to poison his father by slipping air freshener into his stomach medicine. The boy later ran away during a non-custodial visit and the police had to be called. The likelihood of such disintegrating behavior during non-custodial visits increases in direct proportion to the amount of alienation experienced by the child at home.

8. Little is known about the medium and long term effects of parental alienation syndrome on its victims.

Perhaps the greatest gap in our understanding of the syndrome remains our lack of knowledge of what happens to the victims of PAS over the medium and long term. The short term consequences are known and obvious. The alienator experiences the sweetness of revenge and the thrill of “victory.” The non-custodial parent experiences the anguish of the loss of a child, or worse, children. One set of grandparents, relatives, and friends are similarly affected and summarily dismissed. Far more serious is the effect on the child who experiences a great loss, the magnitude of which is akin to the death of a parent, two grandparents, and all the lost parent’s relatives and friends, all at once! It can readily be seen that this represents a staggering loss for a child even greater than the actual death of one parent. Moreover, since the child is unable to acknowledge the loss, much less mourn it, it becomes a major tragedy of monumental proportions in the life of the child, the seriousness of which cannot be overestimated.

These are the known and relatively short term consequences. What about medium term effects? The medium term effects concern the continued absence (as opposed to initial loss) of the lost parent (and grandparents, relatives, and friends) and the effect this has on the child’s development. Ordinary children who have grown up without a parent or grandparent often report “something missing” in their childhood. What is lost, of course, is the day-to-day interaction, the learning, the support, and the love that normally flows from parents and grandparents. While in the case of a death such loss is unavoidable, in the case of PAS such a loss is entirely avoidable and therefore inexcusable.

What about the long term effects? Everyone involved in PAS suffers some degree of distress over the long term. Hopefully, this includes the alienator who, despite the initial exhilaration of “winning,” should hardly find the entire experience pleasurable. In later years, even if alienators do not experience some guilt or regret over their actions, they may develop some sympathy for their children of whom they deprived of a parent.

The non-custodial parent experiences both loss and yet continuing concern for the child. The anguish is akin to that felt by parents when a child goes missing. Since the lack of contact with the child may continue for years, the sense of loss can continue for a similar period. Grandparents suffer needlessly and often seriously. Gardner (1992) reports the cases of at least two grandmothers, in otherwise good health, who died of broken hearts, figuratively, over the loss of their grandchildren.

Of course, it is the child who suffers most. In the early stage, the child experiences not only loss of a parent, but the continual barrage of denigration of the lost parent, grandparents, relatives, and friends. Bad enough to lose a parent; worse still to have the good memories of that parent, relatives, and friends deliberately and systematically destroyed.

In the second stage, perhaps years later, the child begins to comprehend what has really happened. The realization of having believed the alienator, of having wrongly rejected the lost parent, and worse, of having been a pliable accomplice and willing contributor, can produce powerful feelings of guilt. The unfortunate consequences of these feelings may be a backlash against the alienating parent. Says Goldwater (1991, p. 128):

When such a child becomes an adult, the awareness of the enforced absence of the alienated parent for those many years may have a devastating impact and leave long-term feelings of guilt and loss. The alienating parent may then suffer the wrath his adult child feels for having precipitated this loss, and be in turn shut out of the child’s life.

Serious emotional problems may ensue. For children to make a successful adjustment, an enormous task faces them: avoiding the tendency of the backlash response to the alienating parent, forgiving that parent, and maintaining a good relationship with that parent; and restoring good memories of the lost parent (which are often wiped out in PAS) and resuming a normal relationship with the lost parent if that parent is still alive, available, and willing. The re-establishment of the relationship with the lost parent is, naturally, a huge task. It involves making up for lost time and experiences, understanding cognitively and emotionally what has happened during the alienation process, re-learning how to interact with the lost parent, restoring a loving relationship, and planning the continuance of the relationship in the future. Therapy for both child and lost parent may be required. On top of this, the child must learn at this late date how to “juggle” the perhaps still feuding parents–a skill which most children of divorced parents usually learn much earlier. These are no small tasks and all this presupposes the child survives the teenage years without other serious emotional, mental, or behavioral problems which often accompany adolescence.

All being well, one would hope that eventual adjustment for these children would be possible. Negative factors which mediate against successful adjustment include the unwillingness or emotional inability of the lost parent to become reinvolved, the absence or death of the lost parent, and the passing on of the grandparents and other relatives and friends leaving an unfillable void in the life of the child.

9. Further research is needed.

While longitudinal studies have related child and adolescent adjustment following parental separation to a variety of variables such as age, gender, frequency and regularity of visitation (cf. Healy, Malley, & Stewart, 1990), what is so terribly lacking in the literature is any kind of longitudinal study to follow PAS children to ascertain what happens to them. What are the long term effects on these children as they enter adulthood? To what degree can their relationship with their lost parent be re-established? Is their relationship with the alienating parent permanently harmed in later adulthood? What happens to PAS children who permanently lose their non-custodial parent through death without ever re-establishing a relationship? Is their guilt intensified and if so, how do they handle it? Can their relationship with their lost parent, and for that matter with their alienating parent, ever approach normalcy? What does this do to their own parenting skills and how does it affect their bringing up their own children? If their relationship with their lost parent is not re-established, then the lost parent may eventually become a lost grandparent. What impact will this have on the grandchildren?

10. The problem of parental alienation syndrome is much more serious than previously imagined.

Viewed in this light, the problem of PAS appears to be extremely serious. We often speak of the preserving family values, but even disintegrated nuclear families have values and rights (like child visitation) which must be preserved and respected to prevent further disintegration and total collapse. To do less, is to sacrifice entire generations of children on the altar of alienation, condemning them to familial maladjustment and inflicting on them lifelong parental loss.

References

Frost, A.K. & Pakiz, B. (1990). The effects of marital disruption on adolescents: time as a dynamic. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60(4), 544-555.

Goldwater, A. (1991). Le syndrome d’aliénation parentale (in English). Développements récents en droit familial (1991). Cowansville, QC: Les Éditions Yvon Blais. pp. 121­145.

Gardner, R. (1985). Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. Academy Forum, 29(2): 3-7.

Gardner, R. (1989). Psychotherapeutic and legal approaches to the three types of parental alienation syndrome families. In Family evaluation in child custody mediation, arbitration, and litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. (1991). Parental alienation syndrome and the differentiation between fabricated and genuine child sex abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. (1992). Parental alienation syndrome: A guide for mental health and legal professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Healy, J., Malley, J., & Stewart, A. (1990). Children and their fathers after parental separation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60(4), 531-543.

Johnston, J., Campbell, L., & Mayers, S. (1985). Latency children in post separation and divorce disputes. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 24, 563-574.

Levy, D. (1992). [Review of Parental alienation syndrome: A guide for mental health and legal professionals.] American Journal of Family Therapy, 20(3), 276-277.

Palmer, N. (1988). Legal recognition of the parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy, 16(4), 360-363.

Watson, A.S. (1970). The children of Armageddon: Problems of custody following divorce. Syracuse Law Review, 21, 55-86.

Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Parental Alienation: A Mental Diagnosis? – US News and World Report

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Protective Dads on October 31, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Some experts say the extreme hatred some kids feel toward a parent in a divorce is a mental illness

Posted October 29, 2009

From an early age, Anne was taught by her mother to fear her father. Behind his back, her mom warned that he was an unpredictable and dangerous; any time he’d invite her to do anything—a walk in the woods, a trip to the art store—she would craft an excuse not to go. “I was under the impression that he was crazy, that at any moment he could just pop and do something violent to hurt me,” says Anne, who prefers that only her middle name be used to guard her family’s privacy. Typical of a phenomenon some mental-health experts now label “parental alienation,” her view of him became so negative, she says, that her mother persuaded her to lie during a custody hearing when the couple divorced. Then 14, she told the judge that her dad was physically abusive. Was he? “No,” she says. “But I was convinced that he would [be].” After her mother won custody, Anne all but severed contact with her father for years.

If a growing faction of the mental-health community has its way, Anne’s experience will one day soon be an actual diagnosis. The concept of parental alienation, which is highly controversial, is being described as one in which children strongly attach to one parent and reject the other in the false belief that he or she is bad or dangerous. “It’s heartbreaking,” says William Bernet, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, “to have your 10-year-old suddenly, in a matter of weeks, go from loving you and hiking with you…to saying you’re a horrible, ugly person.” These aren’t kids who simply prefer one parent over the other, he says. That’s normal. These kids doggedly resist contact with a parent, sometimes permanently, out of an irrational hate or fear.

Bernet is leading an effort to add “parental alienation” to the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association’s “bible” of diagnoses, scheduled for 2012. He and some 50 contributing authors from 10 countries will make their case in the American Journal of Family Therapy early next year. Inclusion, says Bernet, would spur insurance coverage, stimulate more systematic research, lend credence to a charge of parental alienation in court, and raise the odds that children would get timely treatment.

But many experts balk at labeling the phenomenon an official disorder. “I really get concerned about spreading the definition of mental illness too wide,” says Elissa Benedek, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a past president of the APA. There’s no question in her mind that kids become alienated from a loving parent in many divorces with little or no justification, and she’s seen plenty of kids kick and scream all the way to the car when visitation is enforced. But, she says, “this is not a mentally ill child.”

The phenomenon has been described for many decades, but it became a cause célèbre in 1985, when Richard Gardner, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, coined the term “parental alienation syndrome.” As more dads fought fiercely for joint custody, he observed a surge in the number of children suffering from a distinct cluster of symptoms, including a “campaign of denigration” against one parent that sometimes included a false sex-abuse accusation and automatic parroting of the other parent’s views.

But sound research supporting a medical label is scant, critics say. The American Psychological Association has issued a statement that “there is no evidence within the psychological literature of a diagnosable parental alienation syndrome.” What’s more, concern has grown that “PAS” could be invoked by an abusive parent to gain rights to a child who has good reason to refuse contact, says Janet Johnston, a clinical sociologist and justice studies professor at San Jose State University who has studied parental alienation. In teens, she notes, parental rejection might be a developmentally normal response. Anecdotal reports have surfaced that some kids labeled as “alienated” have become suicidal when courts have ordered a change of custody to the “hated” parent, she says.

In any case, divorcing parents should be aware that hostilities may seriously harm the kids. Sometimes manipulation is blatant, as with parents who conceal phone calls, gifts, or letters, then use the “lack of contact” as proof that the other parent doesn’t love the child. Sometimes the influence is more subtle (“I’m sure nothing bad will happen to you at Mommy’s house”) or even unintentional (“I’ve put a cellphone in your suitcase. Call when everyone’s asleep to tell me you’re OK”). It’s important to shield kids from harmful communication, says Richard Warshak, a clinical professor of psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and author of Divorce Poison. If something potentially upsetting about an ex must be conveyed, he advises imagining how you would have handled the conversation while happily married; how would you have explained Mom’s depression, say?

“The long-term implications [of alienation] are pretty severe,” says Amy Baker, director of research at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection

in New York and a contributing author of Bernet’s proposal. In a study culminating in a 2007 book, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, she interviewed 40 “survivors” and found that many were depressed, guilt ridden, and filled with self-loathing. Kids develop identity through relationships with both their parents, she says. When they are told one is no good, they believe, “I’m half no good.”

Now 23, divorced, and a parent herself, Anne has recognized only recently that she was manipulated, that her long-held view of her father isn’t accurate. They live 2,000 miles apart but now try to speak daily. “I’ve missed out on a great friendship with my dad,” she says. “It hurts.”

Parental Alienation: A Mental Diagnosis? – US News and World Report.

Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Single Parenting on October 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence

childA teacher named Patrick Welsh, frustrated by his all-black class’s performance on a test, asked, “Why don’t you guys study like the kids from Africa?” (Source)

Bold, yes? That’s what frustration can do to you. One student said, “It’s because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study.” Another said, “You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us.”

According to Welsh, no one raised his/her hand.

Speculating about why racial preferences exist isn’t brain surgery. Whether arguing for compensatory justice or skin deep-only diversity, the truth is that in 2009, racial preferences exist because generally, blacks score lower on standardized tests than everyone else.

Embarrassed and probably feeling a little guilty, people use all kind of justifications for lowering standards to accommodate blacks. Before we can begin to tackle the issue, however, we must understand that family structure impacts performance.

“My students knew intuitively that the reason they were lagging academically had nothing to do with race, which is the too-handy explanation for the achievement gap in Alexandria,” Welsh writes in the Washington Post. “And it wasn’t because the school system had failed them. They knew that excuses about a lack of resources and access just didn’t wash at the new, state-of-the-art, $100 million T.C. Williams, where every student is given a laptop and where there is open enrollment in Advanced Placement and honors courses. Rather, it was because their parents just weren’t there for them — at least not in the same way that parents of kids who were doing well tended to be.”

The kids admit what academics try to avoid. Children with no father in the home perceive the lack of discipline and respectful fear an authoritative male instills. I agree with Welsh to a certain extent. He believes focusing on race is too simple, and that family support and involvement are important. And focusing on race can stigmatize black students, but it can’t be ignored. Three quarters of black babies in the U.S. are born into fatherless homes. Black students disproportionately are without residential fathers. For better or for worse, race must be part of the discussion.

It’s not the children’s fault. The blame rests solely on the parents. It will take a sub-cultural shift away from a 75 percent out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate toward stable, two-parent (preferably married) homes to improve the condition of these chidlren. As the article notes, school superintendents “have little control” over these issues.

What can the government do about fatherlessness? Practically speaking, nothing. Individuals must turn the tide.

Addendum: The Center for Equal Opportunity’s Roger Clegg blogs:

“Of course, [Patrick Welsh is] not alone, and there are more and more nonconservatives who are coming around to this view. Problem is, the problem isn’t getting any better. And it is still the case that this problem is unique among social pathologies, in that — unlike crime, drug abuse, dropping out of school, etc. — there remain a nontrivial number of folks who don’t see the problem as a problem at all.”

John Rosenberg of Discriminations echoes my view about the role race plays in this scenario, again, for better or for worse:

“The color of a father’s skin does not cause his absence from his family, nor does the color of a mother’s skin determine how strict she is about homework. Still, Welsh goes overboard in attempting to dissociate race altogether from the dysfunctional educational behavior he observes, if for no other reason than that there the percentage of black children in single-parent families is three times higher than whites. It is true that damaged families, not race, stack the deck against black kids raised in single families, but it is not true that their difficulty ‘has nothing to do with race.’”

Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence.

Partner Abuse Laws Roll-Back Civil Rights Protections

In Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on October 12, 2009 at 12:51 am
October 9th, 2009

Partner Abuse Laws Roll-Back Civil Rights Protections

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a national civil rights organization is charging our domestic violence system undermines due process and respect for Constitutional protections, reversing decades of civil rights progress for Black and other minority communities.

These charges are made by African Americans for Reform of the Violence Against Women Act, a national non-partisan group. These concerns are affirmed by constitutional law experts such as University of Vermont professor Cheryl Hanna who once wrote, “Evidentiary standards for proving abuse have been so relaxed that any man who stands accused is considered guilty.”

According to African Americans for Reform of the Violence Against Women Act, many civil rights violations can be traced to the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA, the federal response to domestic violence, was first passed into law in 1994.

Under VAWA, the definition of domestic violence is so broad that almost any partner dispute or argument can be construed as abuse. VAWA also funds states to institute so-called “mandatory arrest” laws that violate probable-cause protections. Despite a lack of evidence, the accused is arrested and the presumption of innocence removed.

“The VAWA law is destroying the African-American family and poses the biggest challenge to civil rights since the Jim Crow era,” laments AAVR member Charles Pope. “VAWA was supposed to stop domestic violence, but what it’s really done is create victims of VAWA.”

False allegations of domestic violence are often made to gain tactical advantage in custody and/or divorce proceedings, according to family lawyers. These accusations are contributing to family break-down and the epidemic of single-parent households.

AAVR recognizes that domestic violence is a significant problem and is urging the reform of the Violence Against Women Act. AAVR calls for the repeal of mandatory arrest laws that violate Fourth Amendment probable-cause guarantees. Instead of mandatory arrest, the alleged victim and alleged offender should undergo a domestic violence assessment and treatment program.

Partner Abuse Laws Roll-Back Civil Rights Protections.

Depressed mothers lead to Depressed Kids | Opinion | theGrio

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on September 28, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Such a terrible tragedy for moms and children that the government has sponsored the destruction of the Traditional Mom and Dad family in favor of a welfare check?  Our government encourages Irresponsibility by allowing No-Fault Divorce, when the facts are, that children and women are safest from Domestic Violence in a two-parent home.

These are the facts.  Mothers are safest with dad in the home.  Children are safest with dad in the home.  It is only when dad is not present, does Domestic Violence occur.  In 90 percent of all cases, DV occurs AFTER a restraining order is slapped on dad, and he is kicked out of the home   See Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting.

You ask any of these moms or children do they want a husband, daddy or a welfare check? Our government should be ashamed of itself for tolerating this destruction.   As a Native American, this is the same Hate Crime committed against the Indian Nations for over two hundred years, and what did get the American Indian? Genocide of a race. Is that what the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson was supposed to do?

And what about our first black President Barack Obama?Does he have the courage to stand up against the feminist, No-Fault divorce culture, the culture that places the rights of moms and dads to have children, yet ignores the rights of children to be raised in Mom and Dad Homes? – No child left behind, except 70 percent of all black children. – Parental Rights.

Depressed mothers lead to depressed kids

Depressed mothers lead to depressed kids

(Photo/© Laurin Rinder – Fotolia.com)

The insightful expression, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” continues to hold true in many ways. Yet it is often “Momma” herself who says she’s fine, when she really isn’t. It is an easy, often automatic, reply rooted in slavery and passed down from generation to generation through the caretakers of an oft broken people.

We cook, we clean, we go to work, we raise the babies and we suffer in silence. Generations of our women have been taught to show no shame; to hide the unspeakable emotional and unbearable mental pain that they themselves may have endured as a child or as an adolescent. From poverty, sexual abuse, violence, self-parenting, and a limited education, our young mothers unknowingly suffer in great number from mild to severe cases of depression. If left untreated, these symptoms – difficulty concentrating, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, irritability, overeating, persistent sadness, and/or thoughts of suicide – may worsen, lasting for years and causing untold family suffering.

What does this mean for our children? Today, nearly 70% of Black children are born to single mothers, a third of which live below the poverty line. This means that these mentally distressed women are raising our children, more often than not by themselves, and under very harsh circumstances.

Sadly, too many of our kids are having to process the pain of not having a father present. No one really speaks about this void because it is so common, but the kids process this by internalizing rejection, telling themselves, “Daddy did not love me” and, “Daddy did not want me.”

Children’s surroundings affect them immensely. Gang violence is ever-present in many neighborhoods. The stress faced in daily life makes it difficult for students to sit down and concentrate in the classroom and get along with their peers. According to health experts, the stress can lead to various health problems, with students complaining of lack of sleep or constant headaches.

It should come as no surprise that depressed mothers often lead to depressed children. Unfortunately, even those mothers who recognize that they themselves are depressed don’t recognize the signs in their own children. Many depressed and busy parents may also not be as attentive of their own children and not realize that their dysfunction is deeply affecting the rest of the family.

Children whose mothers suffer from depression may be more likely to exhibit the same symptoms. Moreover, the harmful consequences of poverty coupled with the mediating effects of maternal depression jeopardize the development of our young boys and girls. These children are slow to develop and their problems often only come to our attention when their pain becomes public manifested as violence and self-destruction at the hands of drug and alcohol abuse or additional behavioral disorders.

The most revolutionary thing we can do for them is let them know they are not alone. We should share our own vulnerabilities with them and teach them how to deal with their emotions. We should not pretend to be “the strong one” who wears the mask all the time and never sheds a tear. Most important, we should share coping mechanisms that work for us; from spiritual health to professional mental healthcare.

If doing it to help yourself isn’t enough, then do it for the well-being of our children.

Terrie M. Williams is the co-founder of the non-profit Stay Strong Foundation and author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting http://www.healingstartswithus.net

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Depressed mothers lead to depressed kids | Opinion | theGrio.

The American Conservative » Married to the State

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Rights, Feminism, Foster Care, Foster Care Scam, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on September 27, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Married to the State

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How government colonizes the family

By Stephen Baskerville

In 1947, with the baby boom in its infancy and few disposed to hearing of family crisis, Harvard sociologist Carle Zimmerman saw the long-term reality: the family had been deteriorating since the Renaissance and was nearing the point of no return. Whenever the family shows signs of dysfunction, Zimmerman observed, “the state helps to break it up.” During the 19th century, “law piled on law, and government agency upon government agency” until by 1900 “the state had become master of the family.” The result, he wrote in Family and Civilization, was that “the family is now truly the agent, the slave, the handmaiden of the state.”

Today we might regard 1947 as a golden age for the family. Without perceiving it, each generation has become acculturated to family deterioration and added to it. We now accept as normal what would have shocked our grandparents: cohabitation, illegitimacy, divorce, same-sex marriage, daycare, fast-food dinners. Indeed, shocking the previous generation is part of the thrill of filial rebellion.

What should shock even the liberal and the young—but today does not much disturb even the conservative and the old—are destruction of constitutional protections and invasions of personal freedom and privacy by the government’s family machinery. Some four decades ago, the Western world embarked on the boldest social experiment in its history. With no public discussion, laws were enacted in virtually every jurisdiction that ended marriage as an enforceable contract. Today it is not possible to form a binding agreement to create a family.

Few stopped to consider the implications of laws that shifted the breakup of private households from a voluntary to an involuntary process. Unilateral divorce involves government agents forcibly removing legally innocent people from their homes and seizing their property. It inherently abrogates not only the inviolability of marriage but the very concept of private life.

The most serious consequences involve children. Through involuntary divorce, a legally unimpeachable parent can be arrested for seeing his own children without government authorization. He can be charged with domestic violence or child abuse, without evidence that he has committed either crime. He can be hauled before a judge for not paying child support without proof that he actually owes it. He can even be arrested for not paying an attorney or psychotherapist whom he has not hired. No formal charge, no jury, no trial required.

To justify this repression, the divorce machinery has generated hysterias against fathers so inflammatory that few dare question them: child abuse, wife-beating, nonpayment of child support. The accused parent simply loses his family and finds himself abandoned, with everyone terrified to be associated with an accused “pedophile,” “batterer,” or “deadbeat dad.”

Our passivity before repression this serious is stunning and the starkest example yet of the erosion of that civic virtue that has been integral to American political thought since before the founding of the Republic.

Conservatives have labored this idea into a cliché. We preach that people must be more virtuous, less selfish, and more devoted to the public good. But these exhortations earn us nothing but contempt when we remain silent in the face of real tyranny, which, as usual, has appeared where we least expected it and are least equipped to resist it. Instead of resisting, we lament a decline in “culture” and declare there is very little we can do.

But as Linda McClain writes, families are “seedbeds of civic virtue” and “have a place in the project of forming persons into capable, responsible, self-governing citizens.” The family is where parents and children learn to love sacrificially, to put others’ needs before their own desires, to sacrifice for the welfare and protection of the whole. If this does not begin with one’s own home and loved ones it, does not begin at all. People unwilling to sacrifice for their own flesh and blood will not do so for the strangers who comprise their country. In the family, children learn to obey authorities other than the state—God, parents, clergy, teachers, coaches, neighbors. By accepting these, some of whom they love, children learn that government is not the only authority and is one that can and must be limited.

Conservatives have recently been eager to declare marriage and the family to be “public” institutions, largely in response to homosexual insistence that families are purely private and therefore may be defined according to the whims of individuals. But it is more precise to say that the family mediates between the public and the private, ensuring each its proper sphere. In the family children learn to distinguish and defend private life from encroachment by public power. Involvement in public affairs, which is important, begins as an extension of private responsibilities as parents, homeowners, neighbors, and parishioners. Citizens participate in public life as amateurs with a stake in their families, homes, and communities, not as professionals with a stake in a government program or ideology.

Children raised without intact families do not as readily absorb concepts such as family privacy, sacrificial love, parental authority, limited government, or civic virtue. For their rules and values come not from parents but from government officials, who have ultimate sovereignty over their lives: courts, lawyers, social workers, forensic therapists, public-school bureaucrats, and police. These are the figures they must obey rather than their parents. Thus children whose authority figures are government officials cannot distinguish the private from the public and come to see the public sphere as a realm not of civic duty and community leadership but of abstract ideology, government funding, professional employment, career advancement, and state power, in whose growth they acquire a vested interest.

It is no accident that the traditional family is described as patriarchal and that civic virtue traditionally suggested masculinity. It is also no coincidence that fathers are the ones marginalized by family decline.

Enormous attention has been devoted to the crisis of 24 million fatherless children, a phenomenon directly linked to every major social pathology from violent crime to substance abuse and truancy. Because these ills justify almost all domestic government spending, fatherlessness has resulted in a huge expansion of state power. The Obama administration aims to promote virtue with programs preaching “responsible fatherhood” and nagging men to practice “good fathering.” The Bush administration used similar schemes to argue for the importance of marriage. The result is the same: bewailing other people’s moral failings at taxpayer expense.

There is certainly truth in the connection between fatherhood and civil society. “Fathers play a key role in developing and sustaining the kind of personal character on which democracy depends,” writes Don Eberly of the National Fatherhood Initiative. Government therapy, on the other hand, cannot create virtue because it requires no sacrifice. Federal funding only gives officials incentives to perpetuate problems, so it is hardly surprising that not only have these programs done nothing to improve either fatherhood or marriage, they have exacerbated the breakdown of both.

Eberly’s point connecting fathers and freedom contains a larger truth. While families require sacrifice from all members, it is fathers whose sacrifice may extend to their very lives. Children deprived of their fathers by state officials therefore lose more than a parent. They lose the parent who connects them with the civic order. When the father protects and provides for his family, he will resist the state’s efforts to assume those roles. Under his leadership, the family is a force for limiting state power.

The single mother does not resist the state’s encroachment. On the contrary, she is our society’s principal claimant on a vast array of state services, without which she cannot manage her children. When the state usurps the roles of protector and provider and disciplinarian, the state becomes the father.

This is the story of modern politics: increasingly centralized police, plus the regulatory and welfare states that also promise various forms of protection. These paternal—and increasingly maternal—substitutes brought massive bureaucracies, fulfilling Tocqueville’s prophecy that democracy would lead to increasingly bureaucratic intrusion into private life. These agencies expanded by creating problems to solve. As police functionaries, they had to create criminals and newfangled, nonviolent crimes that most people (such as juries) could not understand and required “experts” to adjudicate—crimes that were safe for female police, crimes that could be committed only by men.

Fathers whose children are taken away by state officials do not heroically rescue them or organize opposition to the divorce machinery because the enervating power of the bureaucratic behemoth makes resistance pointless. Men are thus politically neutered and, as a result, often despised by their own children and the rest of us.

That most people do not regard these practices as tyrannical may be the most alarming aspect of all. Government agents seize control of children and property of vast numbers of law-abiding citizens through literally “no fault” of their own, and we accept it because of jargon that makes it all appear banal: “custody battle” and “division of property.” Fidelity to one’s word—let alone one’s spouse—is disdained. Basic civilities become irrelevant because family members can be made to obey through court orders. Family wealth—traditionally used to leverage both obedience from children and limits on government—is useless for both purposes. In divorce it is simply confiscated.

So vast numbers of children now grow up believing from the earliest age that it is normal for government officials to assume control over their family life, to order their parents about as if they were naughty children. This is causing more than social chaos. It is destroying our freedom and our will to defend it.

Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of Taken into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family. A longer version of this essay will appear in The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy.

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16 Responses to “Married to the State”

The American Conservative » Married to the State.

Stop the Civil Rights Abuses; Prepare for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment on September 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Stop the Civil Rights Abuses; Prepare for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Have you, or a person you know, ever been falsely accused of domestic violence? Targeted with a restraining order? Put in jail?

Each year over one million Americans are hit with a false or trivial accusation of partner abuse. It’s now reached the point that domestic violence laws represent the largest roll-back in Americans’ civil rights since the Jim Crow era!

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the theme is “Restore Civil Rights to the Violence Against Women Act.” DV Awareness Month is our opportunity to get word out that our nation’s domestic violence laws have gone too far, harming innocent citizens and diverting scarce resources away from the true victims.

We are asking each and every person who reads this Alert to participate in DV Awareness Month. You can attend one of the events sponsored by your state domestic violence coalition – see listing of coalitions at http://www.usdoj.gov/ovw/statedomestic.htm.

Or you can set up your own event, whether it’s an information table at a local library, presentation to local police, press release, radio interview, or whatever!

To assist your efforts, we’ve developed:

At the national level, several columnists have agreed to write articles on the issue, and we will be holding a major lobbying event in Washington DC.

RADAR would like to have DV Awareness Month activities in every state around the country. After you have your activity, event, or program, please send us an email and let us know how it went: dvam2009@mediaradar.org

As we approach the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2010, it’s critical that every American hear the message, “Restore Civil Rights to the Violence Against Women Act.”

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead


Date of RADAR Release: September 20, 2009

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation’s approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org

A World Without Courtship is a World of Divorce

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Moms, Single Parenting, Sociopath on September 18, 2009 at 11:13 pm

A World Without Courtship is a World of Divorce

by Colleen Hammond on September 17, 2009

A Washington Post column with real world statistics showing that there’s a lot of damage to people and society in 20-somethings’ sexual wasteland.

Full column here.

There is a segment of society for whom traditional family values are increasingly irrelevant, and for whom spring-break sexual liberationism is increasingly costly: men and women in their 20s.

This opens a hormone-filled gap — a decade and more of likely sexual activity before marriage. And for those in that gap, there is little helpful guidance from the broader culture. Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, argues that the “courtship narrative” in the past was clear: dating, engagement, marriage, children. This narrative has been disrupted without being replaced, leaving many 20-somethings in a “relational wasteland.”

The casual sex promoted in advertising and entertainment often leads, in the real world of fragile hearts and STDs, to emotional and physical wreckage. But it doesn’t seem realistic to expect most men and women to delay sex until marriage at 26 or 28. Such virtue is both admirable and possible — but it can hardly be a general social expectation. So religious institutions, for example, often avoid this thorny topic, content to live with silence, hypocrisy and active singles groups.

In the absence of a courtship narrative, young people have evolved a casual, ad hoc version of their own: cohabitation. From 1960 to 2007, the number of Americans cohabiting increased fourteenfold. For some, it is a test-drive for marriage. For others, it is an easier, low-commitment alternative to marriage. About 40 percent of children will now spend some of their childhood in a cohabiting union.

How is this working out? Not very well. Relationships defined by lower levels of commitment are, not unexpectedly, more likely to break up. Three-quarters of children born to cohabiting parents will see their parents split up by the time they turn 16, compared with about one-third of children born to married parents. So apart from the counsel of cold showers or “let the good times roll,” is there any good advice for those traversing the relational wilderness? Religion and morality contribute ideals of character. But social science also indicates some rough, practical wisdom.

First, while it may not be realistic to maintain the connection between marriage and sex, it remains essential to maintain the connection between marriage and childbearing. Marriage is the most effective institution to bind two parents for a long period in the common enterprise of raising a child — particularly encouraging fathers to invest time and attention in the lives of their children. And the fatherless are some of the most disadvantaged, betrayed people in our society, prone to delinquency, poverty and academic failure. Cohabitation is no place for children.

Second, the age of first marriage is important to marital survival and happiness. Teen marriage is generally a bad idea, with much higher rates of divorce. Romeo and Juliet were, in fact, young fools. Later marriage has been one of the reasons for declining national divorce rates. But this does not mean the later the better. Divorce rates trend downward until leveling off in the early 20s. But people who marry after 27 tend to have less happy marriages — perhaps because partners are set in their ways or have unrealistically high standards. The marital sweet spot seems to be in the early to mid-20s.

Third, having a series of low-commitment relationships does not bode well for later marital commitment. Some of this expresses preexisting traits — people who already have a “nontraditional” view of commitment are less likely to be committed in marriage. But there is also evidence, according to Wilcox, that multiple failed relationships can “poison one’s view of the opposite sex.” Serial cohabitation trains people for divorce. In contrast, cohabitation by engaged couples seems to have no adverse effect on eventual marriage.

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Public school teacher says men don’t belong in children’s lives

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Sociopath, state crimes on August 26, 2009 at 12:58 am

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Public school teacher says men don’t belong in children’s lives

The Indianapolis Star on Sunday 23 August 2009 featured an editorial letter that I had written.

The Star allows for readers to make comments below articles and it didn’t take long for the male-bashers to post theirs. While most are easily dismissed for lack of a valid or logic based argument. Others are simply not relevant to the topic and don’t belong in the discussion. Yet, one stood out and brought about the ire of some others.

Here is the comments made by seniorteacher

“I am all or Dad’s involvement in children’s lives, but for God’s sake let’s stop this process of shared custody where the children are shuffled from family to family every two days or so. These children have no place to call home, and don’t give me the crap about them having two homes. They don’t want two homes; they want one. I’m a teacher and I see the result of this selfish practice, and I am also the result of it. It’s a terrible childhood, and believe it or not parents it isn’t about what you want. It is about what the child needs. So all you greedy dads back off. Children need one home, be it one parent or two. They can visit you on the weekend and summer vacations, and you can be there when they need you. But please do not demand shared custody. You’ll save your child a world of insecurity, confusion, and hurt.”
8/23/2009 10:42:20 PM

This teacher starts out with “I am all [f]or Dad’s involvement in children’s lives.” but then regresses to “So all you greedy dads back off. Children need one home, be it one parent or two. They can visit you on the weekend and summer vacations, and you can be there when they need you.” Seniorteacher has been a teacher for 23 years mostly at public high schools. It is deplorable that we have a teacher of maturing boys who has the attitude that fathers should be occasional visitors in their children’s lives. She has clearly expressed that she does not feel that children need their fathers more than 4 days a month. This is damaging to children and is unacceptable.

I had a teacher in sixth grade who had gone through a difficult divorce and child custody battle. We boys were made to feel second class and degraded so much that some of us eventually picketed the classroom demanding equality. I am unable to recall any specific instances of what my teacher said but I do know we boys paraphrased it to each other as ‘she says girls are better than boys’. I doubt that ‘seniorteacher’ refrains from expressing this attitude either overtly or inconspicuously while in the classroom. Trying to break down masculinity and demeaning an entire gender and teaching them that they are not important is not acceptable.

Feminist Karla Mantilla summarized the philosophy behind this male bashing in an article entitled “Kids Need ‘Fathers’ Like Fish Need Bicycles.” She wrote, “I submit that men tend to emphasize values such as discipline, power, control, stoicism and independence. Sure, there can be some good from these things, but they are mostly damaging to kids (and other living things). They certainly made my son suffer an isolated and tortured existence until he began to see that there was a way out of the trap of masculinity.”[1]

“As boys pass from childhood to manhood, they develop their moral and ethical code.”[2] It is at this time it is most important that a teacher not be instilling into them that they are not as valued as women and don’t need to be a significant part of their future or current children’s lives.

Roger Scruton, author of “Modern Manhood,” explains what is going on with feminist ideology in classrooms, “Feminists have sniffed out male pride wherever it has grown and ruthlessly uprooted it. Under their pressure, modern culture has downgraded or rejected such masculine virtues as courage, tenacity and military prowess in favor of more gentle, more ‘socially inclusive’ habits.”[3]

I recommend that you read “The Lost Boys” by Cathy Young . She makes some very valid points about the hypocrisy of the radical feminist and the double standards applied to young boys including in the educational setting.

I call upon every school system in the State of Indiana to either create a formal policy advocating the importance of both parents or require that their teachers receive instruction on gender stereotypes and avoiding degrading an entire gender of parents such as ‘seniorteacher’ has done. This would not be tolerated if it was a statement about race; gender should be no different.

[1] Karla Mantilla, “Kids Need ‘Fathers’ Like Fish Need Bicycles,” Off Our Backs, June 1998, pp. 12-13.
[2] Boys to Men: Entertainment Media Messages About Masculinity – 1999
[3] Roger Scruton, “Modern Manhood,” New York City Journal, 19 January 2000.


Stuart Showalter

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it’s entirety with credit given.

Stuart Showalter Law Blog: Public school teacher says men don’t belong in children’s lives.

CA. Attorney–‘Assembly Line’ Justice in Domestic Violence Cases – GlennSacks.com » Blog Archive

In Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Restraining Orders, state crimes on August 25, 2009 at 4:28 pm

CA. Attorney–‘Assembly Line’ Justice in Domestic Violence Cases

August 24th, 2009 by Glenn Sacks, MA for Fathers & Families

California attorney Chuck Tarr, a reader and supporter since 2004, has an interesting commentary on California’s Domestic Violence laws. Tarr writes:

Although on it’s face, California’s Domestic Violence laws would appear to be gender neutral, in practice, I think there is great disparity in attitudes. The DV calendar reminds me of an assembly line.

PC 273.5, the basic DV (domestic violence) statute, is a “wobbler”, that is, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Hence, the “assembly line” procedure is that even in the most minor of situations (as the police must take away the “primary aggressor regardless of the “victim’s” wishes), a DV defendant is arrested and booked on felony charges.

Those charges carry high bail. If this takes place on a Thursday or Friday, they will sit in jail, usually until the following Monday.

They are humiliated and missing work. The first thing they want to do is get out of custody (assuming they could not afford to post bail). At the DV calendar for first appearances, when presented with the pitch that if they plead guilty they will be released with no further jail and just “probation,” many defendants do so, as they can’t afford to risk losing their job or staying in custody any longer.

Then, there is a mandatory one-year “Batterer’s Program” and repeated progress reports to the court during that year. A DV conviction, even if no weapons were involved, carries a 10-year firearm ban in California, and arguably, a lifetime ban federally.

What has happened in these types of cases and on many others is that in reaction to perhaps one heinous or outrageous case, some legislator introduces a bill (pandering to the electorate) changing the rules of evidence, changing penalties, changing procedures, etc. It’s a complex subject.

GlennSacks.com » Blog Archive » CA. Attorney–‘Assembly Line’ Justice in Domestic Violence Cases.

Why feminists need to take the “men’s rights” movement seriously : This Magazine // Canadian progressive politics, arts, culture, and ideas since 1966

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Feminism, Liberty, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Alienation Syndrome on August 23, 2009 at 6:43 pm

August 11, 2009: Equality, January-February 2009

Why feminists need to take the “men’s rights” movement seriously

By Alex Molotkow

Many ‘men’s rights’ arguments are thinly veiled misogyny. But not all.

Feminists need to listen to the "men's rights" movement.

Feminists need to listen to the “men’s rights” movement.

It’s hard to listen to someone who compares feminism to “the historical rise of Nazism in Germany,” a phrase once written by prominent men’s rights activist David Shackleton. But while the men’s rights movement does have more than its share of extremists, that doesn’t mean feminists should dismiss the whole cause.

I believe that some moderate activists have made some sensible points and that we feminists ought to engage with our detractors if they’re willing to engage—reasonably—with us. Comparing their arguments with our own ensures that feminism remains relevant to our time and place.

One such argument is the concept of equal parenting: the idea, advocated by many men’s activists, that both parents should be equally involved in their children’s lives postseparation. Some feminist critics find it a dubious concept. Pamela Cross of the Ontario Women’s Justice Network has pointed out that equal parenting doesn’t account for domestic violence issues and is often accompanied by questionable ideology. Still, changes in family structure—and skepticism about the women-as-nurturers assumption—make the issue worth considering. “You’ve got women who I’m sure would love to have the opportunity and the freedom to enter into the workforce on a full-time basis, who are being saddled with full [custody] … It should be a joint responsibility, as well as a joint right,” says Kris Titus, national coordinator of Fathers 4 Justice Canada.

Another popular cry in the men’s rights movement is that domestic violence affects women and men equally. A 2005 Statistics Canada survey did find that 653,000 women and 546,000 men had been subjected to spousal violence over the past five years. Feminists have since questioned the study’s methodology and critiqued its numbers as deceptive (women are more than twice as likely to suffer an injury or be the target of frequent attacks, and far more likely to be murdered). But while flawed, the study does highlight that men can be victims, as well as knock down the stereotype that women are never aggressors. With some 90 per cent of shelters refusing to admit men, it’s clear the issue warrants serious consideration.

Undoubtedly, misogyny (or pure bitterness) motivates much of men’s activism, but beneath the often ludicrous rhetoric are some legitimate issues that we feminists shouldn’t be wary of addressing. The trick is to figure out where fanaticism stops and the real arguments begin.

Why feminists need to take the “men’s rights” movement seriously : This Magazine // Canadian progressive politics, arts, culture, and ideas since 1966.

Protecting Fathers’ Rights in Move-Away Petitions

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parents rights on August 15, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Published: 2009-8-14

Protecting Fathers’ Rights in Move-Away Petitions

State Law Has a History of Unfairly Treating Fathers

California law has long favored awarding primary custody of children to mothers over fathers. This disturbing trend only has served to undervalue the important role fathers play in their children’s lives and reinforce outdated gender stereotypes that mothers are best-suited for raising children.

Until recently, state law also has granted mothers an almost limitless right to relocate with their children. Before a custodial parent can legally move to a new location with their children, they must file a move-away petition with the court. The non-custodial parent also must receive a copy of the petition and will be given a chance to contest the move. If the custodial parent does not file the request and receive permission from the court, the parent can be forced to return to California. The children also may be placed temporarily with the non-custodial parent until the court makes its decision.

California law provides custodial parents the right to move and take the children with them. The court will not prohibit a parent from moving or require the parent to show that the move is necessary. Other states provide greater protection to the rights of non-custodial parents and require parents seeking to relocate to show why the move is necessary and/or in the best interests of the child. California, however, does not require the mother to justify her move.

When a mother moves with her children, the father’s access to the children may be greatly limited, especially if the mother relocates to another state. A father who once had weekly visits may find his time reduced to a couple of weeks each year with his children. The father also may have to incur great expense to spend time with his children, especially if they now live thousands of miles away.

Contesting the Move

Fathers contesting a move-away petition may be granted increased visitation time with their children or the court may even award custody, either temporarily or permanently, to the father if the mother follows through in her decision to move.

Generally, to win a change in custody, the father must be able to prove that the move is a detriment to the child. In the LaMusga case, the California Supreme Court held that the impact of a move on the child’s relationship with the father is a relevant factor in determining whether the move is a detriment to the child and may justify a change in custody.

In an attempt to clarify California law, the court set out eight factors that must be considered prior to modifying a custody order in a move-away case:

  • The child’s interest in continuity and stability in the current custodial arrangement
  • The distance of the move
  • The age of the child
  • The child’s relationship with both parents
  • The relationship between the parents’, including their ability to communicate and cooperate with one another and put the child’s interests before their own
  • The wishes of the child (so long as the child is old enough to communicate them)
  • Reasons for the move
  • The extent to which the parents currently share custody

Fathers who have shared joint custody have a better chance of receiving a change in custody than fathers who rarely see their children. However, even mothers who have sole physical and legal custody of their children do not have an absolute right to move whenever and wherever they want. Even in these cases, the fathers still have a right to contest the move.

Conclusion

The LaMusga case has been heralded as an important victory for father’s rights. While the case does not mean that every father who contests a move-away petition will be able to gain custody of his children, the case does send an important message that the role the father plays in a child’s life is important and cannot be diminished on a whim by the mother.

For more information on contesting a move-away petition, contact an experienced family law attorney today.

Protecting Fathers’ Rights in Move-Away Petitions.

Are We A Fatherless Society?

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome on August 13, 2009 at 8:00 am
Are we a ‘Fatherless’ Society?

By Jeweleen Manners-Woodley
Counsellor, The Counselling Center
LAST Mother’s Day weekend, I pushed into a popular gift store to buy my usual Mother’s Day Card. The store was full with shoppers – women and men, boys and girls – jostling to look at the wide selection of cards on display. After waiting for the crowd to thin out, I managed to find a nice card and headed on my way.

A day before Father‘s Day, I headed to the same store to pick up my Father‘s Day card, blaming myself for again leaving my card-buying till the last minute. To my surprise, the store was as free and clear as a breezeway. There were hardly any shoppers, and hardly any Father’s Day cards to choose from.

Turning to the saleswoman, I asked, “How come there’s hardly any Father’s Day cards this year?” She shrugged and said, “Well, you know Father’s Day is not like Mother’s Day…we don’t get that many sales, so we don’t bring in that many”. I left the store thinking, “Wow, what does that say about our fathers in St. Kitts?”

It’s clear that fathers have been drifting in and out of families for a long time, probably as far back as the days of slavery, when plantation owners regularly broke up families, prohibited marriage, and used male slaves to ‘breed’ as many females as possible to increase the number of slaves for the plantation. A similar type of family disorganization continues today in St .Kitts-Nevis, with a large percentage of men fathering children with several different women, but not committing to any one of them.

Some men drift casually from partner to partner, ‘depositing’ children along the way, while others have many children in several different committed relationships across adulthood. With low marriage rates and high out-of-wedlock childbearing, fathers often don’t reside in the same households where they have offspring. How are these fathers then able to guide, nurture, and protect their children?


While some non-residential fathers remain in touch with their children, many do not; often because of irresponsibility, or ignorance of the importance of their role. Many men have no role models for responsible fatherhood, having never been fathered themselves. In other cases,, mothers may prevent fathers from having access to their children, especially if the relationship has ended on a bitter note. Still in many cases, men are so ‘stretched’ by the number of offspring they have, that they find it difficult to be financially and emotionally involved in their children‘s lives.

How easy is it for one man to divide his time among five children in five different households across St. Kitts? And how possible is it for a $1500 salary to pay child support for five children? Not very. The sexual freedoms that men have traditionally enjoyed, therefore, make it difficult for many men to be active fathers in their children’s lives, and creates an epidemic of absent or ‘part-time’ daddies – men who have little involvement with their children besides perhaps, ‘hailing’ them up on the road, taking them out on special occasions, or showing up when the exasperated mother pleads for them to ‘please talk to yuh child’.

And how does this epidemic affect the children? Studies show that children with absent fathers experience more emotional, social, academic and behavioral problems than other children. One study found that boys who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families (Univ. of Pennsylvania).

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes. Father absence is also linked to drug use, with teens in single-mother households at a 30% higher risk for using chemical substances than teens in two-parent households.


Research also shows that children with absent fathers are significantly more likely to drop out of high school (National Principals’ Association Report on the State of High Schools), and that children in single parent families are less likely than students living in intact families parents to have parents involved in their schools.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. Additionally, when fathers are absent or uninvolved, mothers often experience more financial and emotional stresses, which may decrease their ability to parent effectively and lead to increased child abuse and neglect.

A father’s presence in the home can help protect his children from maltreatment. While many fathers also perpetrate child abuse, research shows that the rates of child maltreatment (neglect, physical and sexual abuse), among single-parent families is almost double the rate among two-parent families (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

Father involvement has also been shown to curb aggressive behaviour in boys while building self esteem in girls, particularly in puberty, when the teen’s self-confidence and sense of identity may be shaky. Studies show that teenage girls without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as teenagers, than girls whose fathers are positively involved in their lives.

While many mothers perform the role of ‘mom and dad’, fathers also bring important balance to children’s lives. The author of a study entitled, “The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children’, explains that “Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers.

From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions…Fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development”.

The importance of a positive father figure in children’s lives cannot be overstated. Mothers are important – but fathers are important too! For too long our society has been limping along on the backs of the mothers and grandmothers, who carry the overwhelming weight of childrearing, and they are cracking under the weight. With only half of the parental support existing in many households, is it any wonder that our Federation is experiencing high rates of juvenile delinquency, gang violence, and teenage pregnancy?
Many of our social problems will not improve until our tolerance of irresponsible fathers also changes. While it may take a concerted national effort (father’s groups, media campaigns) to change this culture, each one of us can also make a step towards change.

This Father’s Day, as we celebrate our active fathers, let us also remind our inactive fathers about their importance in their children’s lives, and challenge them to be more involved, not just for the betterment of their children, but for the improvement of society as a whole. Each father should also make the individual commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of their children, starting today. It is never too early or late to do so!

“LifeLines is a monthly column dedicated to addressing issues of mental, behavioural, and social health. The column appears on the 1st weekend of the month, and is written by professionals in the field of social work, mental health, and community medicine”.

St. Kitts-Nevis: Commentary.

‘My dad was my best friend, and I was Daddy’s Girl…My dad’s love was the most powerful I’ve ever witnessed’ :: Glenn Sacks on MND

In Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Glenn Sacks, Marriage on August 7, 2009 at 1:00 am

‘My dad was my best friend, and I was Daddy’s Girl…My dad’s love was the most powerful I’ve ever witnessed’

kaitlyn-bouchard“Losing my dad was the most devastating experience I’ve ever had to deal with…I would not be the person I am today if he was never a part of my life…He will forever be my hero.”

The National Students of AMF (deceased or “Ailing Mothers, Fathers,” or loved ones) Support Network is an organization dedicated to supporting college students coping with the illness or death of a loved one and empowering all college students to fight back against terminal illness.

Recently Kaitlyn Bouchard (pictured), a student and Chapter President at the University of Rhode Island, submitted a piece about her father to the National Students of AMF forum. She wrote:

Before I entered first grade, my parents divorced. I was young and didn’t really understand the new life I was thrown into. My mom and I moved out, and I was only able to see my dad every other weekend. I had been used to not seeing my dad very often, as he had been in the Navy. He eventually left the service to watch me grow up.

Being able to only spend time with my dad on the weekends, we would make the most out of it – we went to amusement parks, played mini golf, and we’d make midnight runs for snacks. My dad was my best friend, and I was Daddy’s Girl. We’d parade around town in matching sweatshirts, and go to the local diner on Sunday’s for breakfast. My dad even helped make the other kids at school jealous by sending gorgeous flowers to my classroom every Valentine’s Day.

My dad’s love for me has come to be the most powerful love I’ve ever witnessed. Only, I had no idea that this would all end before I even turned twelve years old.

Most of my time was spent living with my mom. One night in May 2002, mom had to do something no parent should ever have to. Just past 3AM, she opened my bedroom door and woke me up. Tears filled her eyes as she told me “Dad had a heart attack”. At that moment, I became wide awake and asked, “What hospital is he at? Mom took a moment to answer before saying “He’s in Heaven.”

It’s been seven years since that day. Losing my dad was the most devastating experience I’ve ever had to deal with. It was so completely unexpected and sudden. But I know for a fact I would not be the person I am today if he was never a part of my life. He taught me many valuable lessons, and even though I only knew him for eleven years I am so thankful that he was my dad. He will forever be my hero…

Read the full piece here.

Help, Resources for Dads
The National Fathers’ Resource Center is a division of Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. (FER), located in Dallas, Texas, with offices in both Dallas and Ft. Worth. In existence for over three decades, it has services and resources for dads nationwide and is one of the largest and most active fathers’ rights organizations in the U.S. www.fathers4kids.org

Stumble It!

‘My dad was my best friend, and I was Daddy’s Girl…My dad’s love was the most powerful I’ve ever witnessed’ :: Glenn Sacks on MND.

Parental Rights and Sexism in the UK – Tender Years Doctrine = Maternal Deprivation

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Marriage, Maternal Deprivation, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Tender Years Doctrine on August 3, 2009 at 6:05 pm
even Toddlers Need Fathers
Parenting
Homepage
Helping fathers sustain a parental relationship with their child or children through the family courts

Tender Years doctrine
How does this psychological theory influence court orders for contact and custody between mothers and fathers?

Making an Application to Court
Precedents, Case Laws and Court Authorities in family proceedings

‘Bonding’
Why fathers are so important to the development of children and the seminal contribution of Professor Sir Michael Rutter


CAFCASS
The welfare of the child and the Welfare Checklist. The role of CAFCASS and how they influence Court Orders


Shared or Joint Parenting
Overcoming barriers in UK family services and taking equal responsibility for your child or children

Parental Alienation
Most practitioners would consider PAS ‘emotionally abusive’ so why don’t UK courts recognise parental alienation?


Winning ‘Frequent and Substantial’ Contact
Arguments and evidence a father may present to a family court judge to support his application for contact

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Tender Years doctrine
Professor Sir Michael Rutter, 13th March 2002
“Very many thanks for sending me a copy of your interesting and informative guide on ‘even Toddlers Need Fathers’. I much appreciate your drawing my attention to it”

Most people who attend family proceedings for the first time expect the courts to be objective and impartial but according to Clare Dyer, the Guardian legal correspondent, ‘Under the present law, mothers who defy court orders can be jailed for contempt but the power is rarely used because judges are loath to deprive small children of their mothers.’  (‘New law may boost rights for fathers’, 29th October, 2001).

You may think if this is the situation what is the point in going to court in the first place? But there is also a psychological theory which supports the view of judges highlighted by the Guardian article. Dr John Bowlby (This symbol indicates there is also a YouTUBE video on this topic) working after the Second World War took the view that it was wrong to remove a small child from his or her mother. He called his theory ‘maternal deprivation’.  However it is rarely mentioned by name in court and it is more commonly referred to in legal proceedings as the Tender Years doctrine . The ‘Strange Situation’ procedure and Separation Anxiety
Link to YouTube Channel

The former Master of the Rolls, Lord Donaldson, felt the same way as Dr John Bowlby when he made the following precedent  in 1992, which subsequently became a cornerstone of UK family law.

‘At the risk of being told by academics hereafter that my views are contrary to well-established authority, I think that there is a rebuttable presumption of fact that the best interests of a baby are best served by being with its mother, and I stress the word ‘baby’. When we are moving on to whatever age it may be appropriate to describe the baby as having become a child, different considerations may well apply. But as far as babies are concerned, the starting point is, I think, that it should be with its mother.’

Although Lord Donaldson specified ‘babies’ a judge may apply the principle that the child should be raised by their mother, at any age.In the same year as this precedent Professor Sir Michael Rutter was knighted for his contribution to children’s welfare which included the seminal work ‘Maternal Deprivation Reassessed’ (Penguin, 1972) that contradicted Bowlby’s research findings.

i. Investigations have demonstrated the importance of a child’s relationship with people other than his mother.
ii.  Most important of all there has been repeated findings that many children are not damaged by deprivation.
iii. The old issue of critical periods of development and the crucial importance of early years has been re-opened and re-examined. The evidence is unequivocal that experiences at all ages have an impact.
iv. It may be the first few years do have a special importance for bond formation and social development. (page 217)

‘ Psychology in Family Proceedings”
Link to YouTube Channel
According to ‘What the Family Courts expect from Parents’ issued by the Midland Region Family Judges and Magistrates ‘, “Denial of contact is very unusual and in most cases contact will be frequent and substantial”. Yet by adopting the Tender Years doctrine judges in family proceedings can effectively deny fathers a parental role thus deflecting them from actively participating in their child or children’s upbringing.

Baroness Richmond, the first female ‘Law Lord’, described the difference between Bowlby and Rutter’s approach in the following way;-

15.  Sir Michael qualified the original theory of ‘maternal deprivation’  which had been developed by John Bowlby and expressed for popular consumption in a book called  ‘Child Care and the Growth of Love’. That theory was that children were damaged by separation from their mother or mother figure. Sir Michael Rutter pointed out that children were not invariably so damaged and that, in any event, other people, including their fathers, are also very important to children.

Nevertheless, despite the words of Baroness Richmond judges are still loath to “deprive small children of their mothers” and whether it is called  maternal deprivation or the ‘Tender Years’  doctrine it is still this precedent set by the former Master of the Rolls, who is the most senior judge with civil responsibilities, that prevails.

Tender Years Doctrine.

The State of Fatherhood – Florida International University

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on July 31, 2009 at 2:30 am

“Divorce marginalizes or severs a father’s relationship with his child,” he says. “In reality, the father becomes a visitor in his or her life. He is no longer a father in the very literal sense.”

“Children of divorce really miss their fathers” the reports goes on to state. Is it hard for mothers to care about their children enough to let them see their dads? It is time for moms to put their anger aside, and really, really consider the children.

FIU lab investigates the state of fatherhood

By Sissi Aguila

Family roles have changed substantially since the 1950s. Mom now works outside the home. And dad is expected to be more involved in raising the kids. But as parental roles and responsibilities become less defined, psychologists question: Are there essential characteristics of fathering versus mothering?

FIU’s Fatherhood Lab explores these issues and Psychology Professor Gordon Finley, who runs the lab, focuses specifically on how divorce impacts fathers and the development of their children. Finley has found that a father’s role is unique and far too often neglected by the family court system.

Using questionnaires and a retrospective technique in which he asked 1,989 young adults to think back on their relationship with their fathers, Finley found that children of divorce really miss their fathers. According to Finley, they are denied a relationship with them because of present-day family law and court practices.

“Divorce marginalizes or severs a father’s relationship with his child,” he says. “In reality, the father becomes a visitor in his or her life. He is no longer a father in the very literal sense.”

Risky behaviors

For decades, researchers focused on motherhood when studying parenting. Today more attention is being paid to fathers, and the data is consistently showing that fathers are vital to raising happy, healthy and successful children. “They contribute more than bringing home the bacon,” Finley says.

The statistics are alarming: children from fatherless homes account for 63 percent of youth suicides, 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders and 71 percent of all high school dropouts. And 37 percent of fathers have no access or visitation rights to their children.

Finley’s research indicates that fathers are more effective at attenuating high-risk behaviors such as sex, drugs and other criminal activities. These behaviors also involve high social costs.

Yet Finley says that his findings on fatherhood do not match today’s social reality or family policy. In divorce cases, the father rarely gets custody (only in about 15 percent of cases) and shared parenting is not equal. Fathers usually see their children only once a week and two weekends a month.

A girl needs her dad

Finley’s findings also suggest that parent-children relationships are not as much about identification or imitation, as once thought, but about transaction. The way a girl learns to become a woman is through her interaction with her father. That will determine how she will relate to men in her adult life.

His study concluded that girls experience a greater impact by divorce than boys.

“The real cost is actually to the daughters of divorce. They don’t have relationships with their fathers. So when they enter adolescence and start questioning whether to have sex, they don’t have a realistic idea of what men are like.”

When evaluating the consequences of divorce for children, balance is critical, says Finley. Society has a vested interest in balance.

Informing social policy

The take-home message, according to Finley, is simple: “Fathers matter. Children need their fathers and, as it turns out, fathers need their children,” he says.

Divorced fathers are eight to 10 times more likely to commit suicide than divorced mothers.  They also are higher on most indices of personal and social distress than divorced mothers.

Social policy, Finley argues, needs to catch up to the research: “Family law should be based on social science research – not ideology.”

Finley is a frequent contributor to journals that influence public policy. His study, “Father Involvement and Long Term Young Adult Outcomes: The Differential Contributions of Divorce and Gender,” was published by Family Court Review, an interdisciplinary communication forum for judges, attorney, mediators and professionals in the mental health and human services.

Earlier this year, Finley’s work provided the background for an article on divorced fathers and their adult offspring written for the American Bar Association’s Family Law Journal by Judith Wallerstein.  She is a leading psychologist and researcher who conducted a 25-year study on the effects of divorce on the children involved. Wallerstein has had considerable influence on the California court system.

Says Finley, “Today my goals are to continue research but also to shift the foundation of family policy from outdated ideology to current social science through increased public and governmental awareness.”

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FIU lab investigates the state of fatherhood | News at FIU – Florida International University.

My take on Intimate Partner Violence Domestic Violence – Communicationhelper

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on July 23, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Put Dads back in the Family?  Someone Needs to Talks to Obama About Why man-hating Feminists have lied to create Legislation that Abuses Children

My take on Intimate Partner Violence Domestic Violence

I read with interest the three letters in the Wednesday July 22nd Boston Globe, “Domestic Violence Victims.” It is true that both men and women are victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and that women initiate IPV as much as men, but women are killed at a much higher rate than men. All IPV is unacceptable, against men and women.

David Adams in his letter correctly details that “over the 30 year period ending in 2005, the proportion of American female victims relative to males increased from 55 percent to 78 percent. The question we all need to ask is; what has caused this spike over the past 30 years and what has changed in society to cause this rise?

I believe I understand what has fueled this rise. Commensurate with the rise in IPV, has also been the rise in kids raised without a father in the home.


Over those same 30 years, according to the CDC, we went from 9% of households without a dad in the house, to today’s number of over 28%, some 20 million of our nations children without a dad in the house.
Now these numbers, and the rate of IPV, are about to explode, with in 2007 40% of all new births were to unwed mothers.

If we truly want to reduce IPV in this country, we have to bring back stable families and bring fathers back into kids lives.

It will take more than Dr. Prucell Jr’s suggestion to modify male behavior. The behavior of boys and girls who become men and women, can’t be modified without having the opportunity to have a true male role model in the house, rather than outside the home.
The social experiment of demonizing men and fathers and throwing them out of kids lives has back fired on the woman, and men, who we want to protect.

Till everyone recognizes the role that a man plays in a kids developing lives, both women and men, as adults, will no longer be safe.

We need to bring back dads. NOW.

Dr. Peter G. Hill
687 Wellesley Street
Weston, MA 02493
781-772-2501
cell 617-763-3370

Boston Copley Square Chiropractic304 Columbus AvenueBoston, MA 02116617-536-9119www.chirohill.comTwitter: Chirohillwww.communicationhelper.comwww.blogspot.communicationhelper.com781-325-1848Twitter: Commhelper
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Communicationhelper: My take on Intimate Partner Violence Domestic Violence.

Could Your Child Be Depressed? – Redbook

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights on July 16, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Thursday, July 16, 2009

At first, Andrea Carpenter* blamed preadolescent hormones for her 10-year-old daughter’s moodiness. “Allie was extremely irritable at home, and she’d get snippy with her dad and me for no apparent reason,” says the Marietta, GA, mom. Life at the Carpenters’ home grew so tense that the family started seeing a counselor who, after a few sessions, recommended that Allie visit a psychiatrist. “He mentioned depression, but I thought it was just puberty,” Andrea says. Her thinking quickly changed after Allie said she wished she was never alive and talked about cutting her throat. “I was devastated — I knew she wasn’t a happy-go-lucky kid, but I never thought a 10-year-old could be suicidal.”

In fact, depression is the second most common childhood mental health problem. (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is number one.) An estimated one in 33 children and one in eight teens are depressed, and the World Health Organization predicts that the number of kids — and adults — diagnosed with the disorder could double by the year 2020. Fewer than a fourth of the estimated 12 million kids in the United States who suffer from psychiatric disorders receive treatment, however, which places them at high risk for failing school, abusing drugs and alcohol, and committing crimes. Kids with untreated depression also are 12 times more likely to commit suicide. The nation’s suicide rate for children jumped nearly 10 percent from 2003 to 2004, the largest increase in 14 years.

Even though up to 80 percent of depressed kids improve with treatment, many parents delay seeking help because of the stigma of mental illness. “I wish I would have reacted quicker, but it’s a hard thing to admit your 7-year-old child is mentally ill,” says Carmen Vandyne, a Columbus, OH, mom whose 11-year-old daughter, Addison, was diagnosed with depression at age 7. Other parents hope their child will just get over it on their own. But “depressed kids aren’t just going through phases that they’ll outgrow — they find it difficult to manage their emotions without professional help,” says child psychiatrist Harold Koplewicz, M.D., founder of the New York University Child Study Center.

Figuring out the difference between true depression and temporary moodiness is crucial. Here’s how to tell if your child has a problem — and what you can do to help.

Names have been changed.What are the warning signs?

While all children feel sad from time to time or have the occasional bad day, a child with depression remains in a funk for weeks or months. During this time, she’s likely to struggle at school, isolate herself from friends, cause problems at home, and act like Allie Carpenter did — angry, moody, and irritable. Depressed kids are also as confused by their emotions as their parents are; they can’t describe how they’re feeling. Instead, they might complain about stomachaches, develop exaggerated fears, grumble about being bored, lack energy, or talk about death.

Three years ago, Boston resident Robyn Hanley assumed her then 16-year-old son, Matthew, was going through typical teenage angst when his grades slipped and he started missing school because his stomach hurt. “I wasn’t really worried until he stopped hanging out with his friends and participating in activities that he loved so much,” she says. Matthew’s guidance counselor noticed the changes in him and suggested that the family talk to their doctor. After Matthew was referred to a psychiatrist and diagnosed with depression, Robyn learned that withdrawing from pleasurable activities and family and friends is a key sign that a child is depressed. “It’s frustrating, because you just want your child to lighten up and enjoy life,” she says, “but I’ve learned that a depressed kid can’t control how his illness makes him feel.”

Why do some kids suffer?

Though experts still aren’t sure why certain children are more likely to become depressed, the following factors may play a role:

They’re born with a “blue gene.” There’s a 25 percent chance a child will struggle with depression if one parent has it; that risk jumps to 50 percent or more if both parents are affected.

They have a chemical imbalance. Chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters — namely serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine — play a vital role in regulating emotions. Experts think that depressed kids may not produce enough of these chemicals.

They’re dealing with trauma. Up to half of all depressive episodes (among kids and adults) are preceded by life-altering events. Losing a loved one, dealing with a parental divorce, moving to a new home, or being the victim of abuse can be particularly traumatic to kids who haven’t yet developed coping skills. Addison Vandyne’s first major bout with depression happened when she was 7, after her mom was injured in an accident. “Addison shut down emotionally, but we thought she’d snap out of it,” says Carmen. Instead, Addison bullied kids, drew frightening pictures of people getting injured or killed, and clawed at her face when she was upset.

Their hormones are in flux. Kids as young as preschool age can have depression, but the disorder is most likely to be diagnosed around puberty, when hormones kick in. Boys and girls are equally at risk for depression until puberty; during the teen years and throughout adulthood, females are up to two times as likely to be depressed. Fluctuating hormones, as well as differences in societal expectations, likely account for this gender bias. “Girls are encouraged to express their emotions, while boys learn to bottle them up,” says Koplewicz. As a result, depression in girls may often be easier to recognize.

How can you get help?

Even if a child’s dark cloud lifts, research shows there’s a 60 percent chance she’ll be depressed again unless she gets treatment, and her lifetime risk for depression goes up with each untreated episode. First, talk to your child’s pediatrician; if she suspects a problem, she’ll likely refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a child psychiatrist. If depression is diagnosed, the following treatments can help:

Psychotherapy. Kids with mild depression often respond well to talking about their problems with a mental health professional, who helps them identify and change negative patterns of thinking. Addison Vandyne’s mood has improved dramatically since she’s been in therapy, says mom Carmen.

Medications. Antidepressants, namely selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (the only medication FDA-approved to treat depression in kids), can greatly alleviate symptoms in children by elevating brain chemicals. Despite this, pediatric prescriptions for SSRIs have declined nearly 25 percent since 2004, when the FDA issued a warning that their use may induce suicidal thoughts in youths. “Overall, depressed kids see significant improvements with SSRIs. But because every child responds differently, kids starting these medications should be closely monitored,” says David Fassler, M.D., author of Help Me, I’m Sad: Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Childhood Depression. A large study found that the benefits of giving antidepressants to kids outweigh the risks.

Combined treatment. Depressed kids improve the most when they take medications and participate in psychotherapy. Nearly three out of four children on combined treatment reported that their depression lifted, while 61 percent improved with medication alone and about a third got better with only psychotherapy. Allie Carpenter and Matthew Hanley, both now 19, are enjoying happier lives thanks to a combination of drugs and therapy. “Allie’s a completely different kid,” says Andrea. “She enjoys herself. She sings. She’s easier to be around. It’s wonderful to see her so happy.”

To learn more about childhood depression and to find a mental health professional in your area, visit Families for Depression Awareness at familyaware.org.

Signs your child is depressed

Is your child:

  • irritable, angry, or cranky for no good reason?
  • uninterested in spending time with friends or participating in fun activities?
  • experiencing frequent stomach or head pains?
  • losing weight?
  • sleeping more than usual?
  • doing poorly in school?
  • talking about running away from home?
  • lacking energy or complaining a lot about being bored or tired?
  • suffering from low self-esteem?
  • talking about hurting or killing herself?
  • giving away favorite belongings?

If you answered yes to five or more of these questions and your child has displayed these behaviors for at least two consecutive weeks, she may be clinically depressed.

Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc. Originally Published: Could Your Child Be Depressed?

Could Your Child Be Depressed?.

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