Archive for the ‘Rooker-Feldman Doctrine’ Category
Parental Alienation Disorder Diagnosis in psychiatry’s ‘DSM-5’ has power to change lives – USATODAY.comIn Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Liberty, Marriage, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on March 9, 2010 at 1:10 am
The family is a prime institution of civil society. In its origins, it is both natural and pre-political. Family is not the creature of the state but a network of relationships between a man and a woman, their offspring (if any), and the families from which they themselves come and that their union will create.
In the modern era, temptations to experiment with the institutions of marriage and family have multiplied. With less emphasis on the long-term responsibilities of marriage, the consequences of redefining the institution for children and society are subordinated to the desires of adults. Rather than compound these weaknesses, policymakers and citizens should consider and adopt necessary reforms to strengthen families and rebuild civil society as the engine of the greatest human goods.
Marriage as a Natural Institution
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines marriage straightforwardly as the “formal union of a man and a woman, by which they become husband and wife.” The United States Census Bureau defines family as a “group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption.” Until recently, the plain meaning of these definitions has been universally recognized.
The underpinnings of sexual differentiation and complementarity have been understood as fixed in natural law. The jurist Joseph Story spoke for this tradition when he wrote, “Marriage is treated by all civilized societies as a peculiar and favored contract. It is in its origin a contract of natural law.”
The marriage contract derives its strength from its conformity with the truth about the human person. Whether or not spouses in a particular marriage are able or willing to have children, they are themselves the children of one man and one woman. Their coming together is the extension into a new generation of the pairings of men and women. Marriage is not only a conjunction of individuals but the intertwining of family heritages. Marriage is the intragenerational expression of the union of man and woman that results from, and often results in, its intergenerational expression: the child.
The simplicity of this truth accounts for the nearly universal history and expression of marriage across cultures. Despite the enormity of the pressures marriage and family face today, the vast majority of people in American society express the desires to marry, experience a lifelong faithful relationship, have children, and raise those children into adulthood where they are able to establish families of their own.
Protecting Marriage Protects Society
The personal benefits of marriage to men and women, their children, and the social benefits to neighborhoods and nations are extensive. Author Michael Novak famously referred to the family unit as the “original Department of Health, Education and Welfare.”
The intact, married family performs best on measure after measure of social outcomes for parents and children alike. For example:
The fracturing of a family is not the breaking of a single link in a chain but the opening of a hole in a protective net. One scholar has referred to five concentric “rings of community” that the family affects:(1) their unborn children, (2) kin or extended family, (3) the neighborhood, (4) the community of faith, and (5) the nation as community. Damage to one of these rings affects all the others.
Marriage is a wealth-creating and wealth-preserving institution. One proximate result of its weakening has been the growth of government as substitute provider. As one prominent economist has remarked, “Deinstitutionalization of marriage will lead to an expansion of the size and scope of the state.”
Decades of Failed Experiments
Current challenges to the primacy of marriage and family as well-established civil institutions are often premised on the assertion that they will inflict little damage beyond that done by previous changes in law and culture. Those prior experiments, however, bear witness to the unintended consequences of ill-considered changes in public policy.
No-Fault Divorce. Advocates of no-fault divorce assured policymakers that the impact on children would be minimal if not beneficial. National studies of the children of that generation who are now adults provide a clearer picture, as do surveys of divorced adults.
While many marriages are not salvageable (particularly in the presence of abuse, adultery or addiction), a recent University of Texas study of ever-divorced spouses found that only a third of them felt that they had done enough to try to save their marriage. Moreover, children of divorce disproportionately suffer from such maladies as depression, compromised health, childhood sexual abuse, arrests, and addiction.
Welfare. The expanding programs of the Great Society, while well-intentioned and effective in meeting short-term needs for basic necessities, also had long-term and unwelcome effects on intact families.
Until welfare reform in 1996, anti-poverty initiatives in the United States contributed to the self-defeating financing of family breakdown. Marriage remains the primary route out of poverty for low-income couples, and children who grow up in single-parent homes are five times more likely to live in poverty than children in two-parent homes.
In each of these instances, experiments with family form and support mechanisms have inadequately considered the needs of children. They have spurred calls for reform, frequently from the children themselves as they reach maturity. These calls remind policymakers that no period of family decline has proved inevitable or irreversible.
Go with What Works
The decline in the most fundamental indicators of the health of marriage over the past 40 years is real. Rather than risk further decline in this core institution of civil society through additional experiments with the nature of marriage, policymakers would be wise to turn their attention to reforms that capitalize on the lessons of prior eras.
Blueprints are proliferating for the strengthening of traditional marriage. Attention to these blueprints should be the first concern of policymakers seeking the common good of a marriage-centered and child-focused culture. The well-being of this generation and of generations to come depends on their success.
Chuck Donovan is Senior Research Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.
Oxford University Press, “Marriage,” Compact Oxford English Dictionary, at http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/marriage?view=uk (January 11, 2010).
U.S. Census Bureau, “Current Population Survey Definitions and Explanations,” at http://www.census.gov/population/www/cps/cpsdef.html (January 11, 2010).
Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Conflict of Laws, cited in Matthew Spalding, We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2009), p. 157.
Mindy E. Scott, Erin Schelar, Jennifer Manlove, and Carol Cui, “Young Adult Attitudes About Relationships and Marriage: Times May Have Changed, But Expectations Remain High,” Child Trends, July 2009, pp. 4-5, at http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2009_07_08
Frank Newport, “Desire to Have Children Alive and Well in America,” Gallup.com, August 19, 2003, at http://www.gallup.com/poll/9091/desire
Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially (New York: Broadway, 2000), cited in the Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good (Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute, 2006), p. 31.
Jennifer Steinhauer, ‘Studies Find Big Benefits in Marriage,” The New York Times, April 10, 1995, A10, at http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/10/us/studies
Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good, p. 33.
Ibid., pp. 22-29; see also, generally, Patrick F. Fagan, “Special Collection: Mapping America: Marriage, Family and the Common Good,” October 9, 2009, at http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=WX09J01 (January 9, 2010).
Allan Carlson, Conjugal America: On the Public Purposes of America (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 2007), p. 42.
Jennifer Roback Morse, “The Limited Government Case for Marriage,” in Jennifer A. Marshall and J. D. Foster, eds., Indivisible: Social and Economic Foundations of American Liberty (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2009), p. 31.
Elizabeth Marquardt, Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children and Divorce (New York: Crown Publishers, 2005), p. 169.
Ibid., Norval Glenn, foreword, p. xxii.
Ibid., p. 189.
Robert Rector, “Reducing Poverty by Revitalizing Marriage in Low-Income Communities: A Memo to President-elect Obama,” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 45, January 13, 2009, at http://www.heritage.org/
See especially David Blankenhorn and Linda Malone-Colon, The Marriage Index: A Proposal to Establish Leading Marriage Indicators (New York and Hampton, VA: Institute for American Values and National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting, 2009), pp. 14-22. The authors offer 101 specific ideas to strengthen the institution of marriage without alteration of its historical terms.
Lovefraud received the following e-mail from a woman who we’ll call “Penny.” She’s been in a custody battle with the father of her child, who she believes is a sociopath. Although Penny has been able to gain full physical and legal custody of the child, and has a restraining order against the father, he still has visitation so Penny must deal with child exchanges. She’s provided the following tips for others who are in similar situations.
1. STAY STRONG IN GOD! I know that this is difficult at times because I myself have been tried so much. Go to church regularly and tell the pastor(s) and counselors at your church what you are dealing with and ask them and the congregation to pray for you. Pray and read your Bible. If you are not religious you might want to try this out anyway or meditate to bring peace to your soul. It is absolutely necessary that you find some peace in a situation that is utter chaos and dysfunction.
2. DO NOT TAKE THEIR BAIT! I have read on several websites (including this one), and books like The Sociopath Next Door, by Dr. Martha Stout, and also Without Conscience, by Dr. Robert Hare, that stress this very point. I found this out the hard way and have learned from experience that this only adds to the problem because the sociopath is often trying to get a reaction out of you. Reacting or retaliating against the sociopath only fuels the fire. Although it might sound cliché, one can only truly and successfully fight evil with goodness, especially in this case.
3. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Sociopaths (as my ex is) are pathological liars and are bound to contradict themselves in their stories. Thorough logs of all events with the sociopath and also supporting documents such as emails, police documents, medical records, court documents, etc., can all be of help when dealing with a sociopath in a situation such as this. When the time is right (sometimes its smart to let time go by so that the sociopath can implicate, perjure, and hang him/herself some more) you might decide to file the appropriate paperwork in court (i.e. Order to Show Cause for custody and visitation, declarations, motions for contempt of court, etc.) and attach the documents that you have been logging and saving as exhibits/evidence to your court papers (you can ask an attorney, paralegal, or family law self help center or other similar groups how to do this). If you have the financial resources, you might want to consider a deposition as another opportunity to let the animal perjure him/herself some more.
4. REQUEST EXPLICIT COURT ORDERS! I have found through personal experience that sociopaths will exploit and take advantage of any ambiguity or vagueness in court orders to create complete and utter chaos. You must push for detailed court orders when you go to court to prevent this from happening.
5. IF POSSIBLE, ASK THE COURT TO ARRANGE CHILD EXCHANGES AT LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS! Doing this eliminates the opportunity of having to interact with the sociopath at your home or his/her home as well as other places that are easy for chaos to occur. Arrive at the exchange early and let the officers know that you are there for a child exchange (make sure you always have the court orders with you so that the police can see it if need be) and you can ask the desk officers if they can monitor the exchange.
6. HAVE PEOPLE OTHER THAN YOU THAT YOU TRUST AND ARE GOOD PEOPLE DO THE EXCHANGE OF YOUR CHILD(REN) IF POSSIBLE! Making yourself as invisible as possible might increase the chances of cutting the sociopath out of your life since he or she will no longer be able to see you sweat. Remember to always stay calm and collected when the sociopath tries to anger you (you can cry and vent in private) even and especially in court.
7. BE CAUTIOUS IN STATING THAT YOUR EX IS A SOCIOPATH! Many people, including the courts, child welfare organizations, lawyers, etc., are not familiar with this devastating disorder and as a result do not know how to respond properly to the warning signs (as many of us did not know how to until we were caught in a complex web of deception). Therefore, focus on proving the behavior of the sociopath in court using the strategies I suggested earlier and do not accuse your ex as being a sociopath in court. They will not take this seriously since you are probably not a professional licensed to make such a diagnosis.
8. PUSH FOR COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND THE EX TO BE THROUGH EMAIL ONLY WHEN YOU GO TO COURT! Communication using this vehicle of communication helps to eliminate the possibility of he said/she said. Websites such as www.ourfamilywizard.com are excellent because they provide an opportunity for you to communicate with your ex via email and all the communication is safe and secure and can easily be printed out (all emails also include the date and exact time the emails were sent and viewed by the other party and also include the time any printed emails are generated). Also, the website allows you to input your parenting schedules, input medical information for the child, and offers a journal, free children’s accounts to the child(ren) involved and can also offer professional accounts for minor’s counsel and possible others to oversee the account and monitor what is going on.
9. PUSH THE COURT FOR PERMISSION TO VIDEO OR TAPE RECORD EXCHANGES AND MAKE SURE THIS IS WRITTEN IN THE COURT ORDER! Doing this helps to eliminate any possibility for potential chaos.
10. GET ALL INFORMATION STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE! Do not rely on any information the sociopath provides you. Always verify all information concerning the child or children with their doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. If possible have the child(ren’s) doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. document all information they give you.
11. DO NOT CUT THE SOCIOPATH ANY SLACK! Record and document any and all violations of court orders. Recording these violations may be helpful when you go to court.
12. HIRE AN EXPERIENCED COMPETENT ATTORNEY, AND IF POSSIBLE ONE THAT HAS EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH SOCIOPATHS OR OTHER SIMILAR PERSONALITY DISORDERS! Child custody cases involving sociopaths are complicated and need the skill, experience, and know-how of a professional.
13. TRUST YOUR GUT! Oftentimes, we doubt our intuitions when we shouldn’t. In my personal experience I found that there were warning signs but did not respond to them as I should have because I took the signs lightly. Likewise, when I was drawn into my ex’s net of deception and chaos, I knew something was wrong, and attempted to explain what I believed was wrong with my ex to my previous attorney, but the attorney did not understand and discouraged me from engrossing myself in research. She stated that doing so could help me to become emotionally and mentally unstable (the attorney did not have experience in dealing with such complex personalities and so did not know how to properly respond to my ex’s actions). I later decided to trust my gut and continued with my research. Through research, trial and error, I have learned how to better deal with my ex and I do not respond to his baits (my ex has accused me of being a sociopath and has falsely accused me of harassing him).
14. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Living well is truly the best revenge. As difficult as it may be, try not to let the sociopath make you a bitter, angry, mean person. Remember the ultimate goal of the sociopath is to frustrate you. Enjoy your child(ren) while they are with you and let them know that you love them. Listen to them and model what real love looks like while they are in your care. Let them see you in loving relationships with other people. Criticize their actions and not them in private and DO NOT talk badly about the other parent in their presence (this can give the other parent an opportunity to bring parental alienation charges against you); instead you can let them know that actions like the ones their parents are exhibiting are wrong and hurtful to others and that this behavior is undesirable. Also, don’t forget to eat (like I have in the past), exercise, sleep, and laugh! Do not under any circumstances allow the sociopath to rob you of your ability to laugh.
Bob Geldof has launched an outspoken attack on the family courts system accusing it of routinely allowing “state sponsored kidnap” of vulnerable children.
The singer and anti-poverty campaigner described the current child custody laws as “barbaric and abusive” and dismissed the system as a “disgraceful mess”.
He claimed that children’s futures are being decided on the basis of “mumbo jumbo” and “social engineering” with devastating long-term consequences for society.
Mr Geldof, who fought for custody of his three daughters from his former wife Paula Yates, also alleged that British courts “consistently” show bias against men by handing custody to mothers.
His comments come in the foreword to a new report which draws together a clutch of recent research on the psychological effects of break-up on children.
The paper, published by The Custody Minefield, an internet legal advice service, and supported by Families Need fathers, the campaign group, calls for a change in the law on relocation cases in which separated parents apply for permission to move elsewhere.
It calls for the current guidelines to be changed to include an explicit ban on decisions favouring mothers on grounds of gender.
The report lists a raft of academic research which it says shows that children with no paternal influence are more likely to have behavioural problems, lower exam results, mental health problems, and even lower IQs.
It follows a recent study which found that up to a third of children whose parents separate lost touch with their father permanently.
“In the near future the family law under which we endure will be seen as barbaric, criminally damaging, abusive, neglectful, harmful to society, the family, the parents and the children in whose name it purports to act,” wrote Mr Geldof.
“It is beyond scrutiny or criticism and like a secret society its members – the judges, lawyers, social and child ‘care’ agencies behave like any closed vested interest and protect each others’ backs.”
He described the system as: “A farrago of cod professionalism and faux concern largely predicated on nonsensical social guff, mumbo-jumbo and psychobabble.
“Dangling at the other end of this are the lives of thousands of British children and their families.”
In a reference to the famed wisdom of the Biblical King Solomon, he added: “Rather than Solomon-like resolving our tragically human disputes with understanding, compassion and logical pragmatism, the courts have consistently acted against society’s interest through the application of prejudice, gender bias and awful impartial cruelty.”
Presented with two women who both claimed to be the mother of a baby, Solomon is said to have suggested cutting the child in half. One of them immediately begged him to give the baby to her rival, demonstrating that she was the true mother.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “We are creating a family court system that is transparent, accountable, and inspires public confidence in its good work, whilst still protecting the privacy of children and families involved.
“That is why we have allowed greater media access to family courts which will lead to greater trust. We have also increased access to out of court family mediation by putting information about divorce, relationship breakdown and the family courts, and a link to the Family Mediation Helpline website, on the DirectGov website.
“It is for the court to consider the evidence put before them in each individual case. However, the child’s welfare will always be the court’s paramount consideration.”
We don’t ever see Daddy any more
Families torn apart … the stories behind the divorces
THOUSANDS of British kids never see their dad again once their parents break up, a shocking new survey has revealed.
More than one in three youngsters – 38 per cent – go without having their father around after their parents split, and nearly one in ten are so traumatised they consider SUICIDE.
The findings, by a leading law firm, also discovered children are being caught in bitter custody battles, and many later turn to drink and drugs.
Sandra Davis, head of family law firm Mishcon de Reya, which surveyed 4,000 people, said: “This research shows that, despite their best intentions, parents are often using their children as emotional footballs.”
Here NIKKI WATKINS, NICK FRANCIS and JENNA SLOAN speak to four people who have been affected by divorce.
We hear from a mum whose husband left for Australia, a man who tracked down his long-lost dad and two fathers who haven’t seen their kids in years.
RICHARD separated from his long-term partner in May 1998, after six years.
The 43-year-old, from Carshalton, Surrey, who is on sick leave from his job as a train-driving instructor, has not seen his 15-year-old daughter for more than eight years, despite suffering with leukaemia.
His ex-partner moved 600 miles away, which makes visiting impossible as his leukaemia treatment is carried out in his home town.
Richard says: “We came to an understanding about contact times that worked out initially.
“Then my ex started mucking about with it. I said, ‘we need to sort this out’, as I didn’t want to go down the route of court because it is expensive and pits parent against parent.
“It becomes a battle of parents rather than what is right for the child.
“The advice I got at the time was to avoid the court system.
“I said that it was in our daughter’s best interests to continue seeing me.”
Richard eventually ended up seeking the advice of a solicitor.
He says: “The day before we were due for a directions hearing my ex phoned me and asked me what I wanted. I said the same as before and she said, ‘that is fine’.
But the situation changed when Richard’s ex got engaged and moved to Scotland.
Richard says: “I got a letter from her solicitor saying the contact schedule wouldn’t work.”
He has since been diagnosed with leukaemia and when faced with chemotherapy told doctors not to worry about his fertility, as he was too traumatised to have more children.
He wrote to his ex and daughter to explain about his illness, but says he got no response.
Richard says: “I don’t get anything back – I haven’t in eight years. I just want an acknowledgement to say my daughter is aware of what has happened and sends her love. It’s an awful situation.
“I know they get to the address because everything is recorded delivery, the birthday presents and Easter eggs.
“I had to have counselling about losing my daughter. It has affected me in a big, big way.
“Children have a right to know both parents.”
MELANIE divorced her husband of 13 years after he left her and their two sons without warning.
When Melanie, 33, came home one day to find hubby Trevor leaving, she thought for a moment that he was going to the shops – before realising he meant he was going for good.
He left for a new life in Australia, since then having no contact with sons Oliver, then 3, and Joshua, then 8.
Melanie, a photographer from Durham, says: “Trevor left on March 8, 2008. I wasn’t aware of any real problems in our marriage, just the usual bickering. I came home from work and he said he was leaving.
“My oldest boy Joshua, who is now ten, has a lot of issues and has to see a counsellor.
“Because he was there when his dad was packing his things in the car, he blames himself for his dad leaving.
“My other son, Ollie, who’s five, was only three when his dad left so I think he has got off a bit lighter.
“They are both very clingy, though. I con-stantly have to reassure them.
“I’m worried about how it’s going to affect Ollie in the future. I also worry about my boys because there isn’t a male role model in the house.
“Trevor has my numbers and can get in touch with the boys if he wants, he just chooses not to.
“He took me to court this year to try and get access.
“We came to an agreement that he could come and see them over the summer but just one week before he was due, he cancelled.
“After spending thousands of pounds on a court case in this country, despite not having paid any money for the boys, he goes and disappoints them like that.
“If Trevor is the kind of man who can do this to his family then he’s not the sort of person I want around my kids.”
JAMES TAYLOR tracked down his long-lost dad, James Dennis, 52, through the internet after his parents divorced.
James 33, a mortgage adviser from Glasgow. says: “My mum and dad married when they were 17 and 18, which was very young.
“My dad, who was a welder, moved to Reading to find work and initially my mum went with him. But things didn’t work out and my mum came back to Scotland.
“My parents ended up divorcing and lost contact. I think it was a combination of the pressure on them, as they were so young, and the distance between them.
“I was their only child, and I saw my dad once when I was about seven, but that was it. It didn’t really occur to me to ask about him.
“All I’d ever known was my mum, Brenda, who remarried. But when I went to secondary school I began to wonder why I didn’t have a dad like the other kids did.
“When I was 17 my mum passed away due to complications in childbirth. It really made me think about things and start to question who my family was.
“I have four step-daughters with my wife Georgina and we have a boy Joshua, who is seven. I also have two step-granddaughters.
“Having my own children did make me think even more about getting in touch with my dad. My wife was very supportive but I was worried about finding Dad. What if he didn’t like me?
“In 2006 I logged on to the Genes Reunited website and typed in my father’s name. I hadn’t seen him for 23 years. One match came up that turned out to be my aunt, I was delighted when I got an email from her.
“She passed my contact details on to my dad and we arranged to meet.
“Going to meet him for the first time was very emotional. I’d only seen him in his old wedding picture, with long hair in the 1970s, so I didn’t recognise him straight away.
“But when it finally dawned on me that this was my dad I was thrilled. We have some of the same characteristics – our eyes are similar – and we have similar mannerisms too.
“And I have a half-brother and half-sister that I’d never met, along with aunties, uncles and cousins. I’m so glad I logged on to that website.”
DAD Paul is a full-time carer for his elderly father.
He split with his wife of 25 years and lost contact with his son, then aged seven, 12 years ago.
Paul, 57, from Hampshire, is still coming to terms with his loss. He says: “My wife decided that she wanted the relationship to finish and we divorced.
“Very quickly it became difficult to have contact with my son.
“You get cursory visits once every two weeks. It was difficult right from the beginning, but I saw him for about a year, every other weekend. That isn’t sufficient for a relationship.”
Paul went to court to try tomaintain the contact but thesituation deteriorated.
He says: “If one parent is trying hard to stop contact, the court doesn’t really do anything to enforce contact with the absent parent.”
That is why Paul finds the new statistics about so many children not seeing their fathers unsurprising.
He says: “I wrote many articles and did some charity work for a time for all of the charity groups who were trying to get the system changed.
“I did it because there are probably about a million kids out there who have not got what you could call a decent family.
“If you include the extended family then the number of people involved is just colossal. The figure of 38 per cent doesn’t surprise me at all. It almost destroys you. You miss everything.
“I don’t even know categorically if my son is alive – simple as that.
“I took it all the way to the highest court and that got me experienced in the legal system.
“So I was advising other people how to keep the cost down and how to do it themselves.
“I have moved on now – it took me several years to get to that stage and it was a very desperate state. I have been divorced 12 years now and I fought for five years in the courts. My life could always be better.
“More than anything I would want my son to know that I care and that I am still caring.”
Dad tales of desperate and defeated, or deadbeat
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.
Ireland mom faces U.S. extradition over child snatching
Tedra Erickson and her mother, Kay Erickson, took her two children, Emma and Kaitlyn, to Ireland in early 2005 after a nasty custody battle with their father, Michael Peterson. According to news reports, they didn’t have any connection with Ireland.
A custody battle in March 2005 awarded joint custody to both parents. However, Erickson and the children’s father wanted full custody.
In April of that year, Peterson, who separated from Erickson after four years of marriage, went to a scheduled meeting with his children at the police station but they never showed up. That was the last he saw of them until a private investigator located them in 2006 in Tralee, County Kerry.
According to news reports, Erickson, with the aid of her mother, crossed the border with the children at Canada and traveled by cargo ship to Britain, and came to Ireland via Holyhead, settling in Tralee.
A felony warrant was issued for Tedra on April 13, 2005 and for her mother on September 2006.
After a year of trying to locate his children alone Peterson hired private investigator Philip Cline.
In September 2006, the investigator located the mother, grandmother and children in Tralee. The children were attending school and Tedra had a full time job as a chiropodist.
Peterson went to Ireland to meet his children shortly after their discovery. According to interviews Peterson gave to the media after the meeting, the children didn’t want to have anything to do with him.
A court hearing took place in Ireland under the rules of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, set up to establish contact between children and their parents when families separate.
The judge decided to allow the children to settle in Ireland. However, a grand jury in Collin County, Texas, in 2008 indicted Erickson and her mother on interference with child custody, a state-jail felony. He called for both women to be extradited back to the U.S.
Cline told a local newspaper in Texas that out of 16 years as a child rescue investigator, this is one of the most aggressive cases of parental alienation he has seen.
“I bring kids back from all over the world,” Cline said. “In this case, these children are going to need extreme psycho-therapy. I believe the children will come back to their father, but it won’t be kisses and roses. It will be a long, hard road for the entire family.”
Tedra has been working in Ireland as a chiropodist for the past number of years. The mother of two was working in a chiropodist clinic in Tralee before moving to Limerick.
IrishCentral’s sister publication the Irish Voice spoke to an employee of the clinic on Tuesday. The employee said that she was recently fired from the clinic for telling lies, practicing under a false license and other serious issues.
According to the employee, Tedra is now illegally practicing chiropody around Limerick City. She was unavailable for comment.
In related news, Peterson’s new wife, Celeste, is charged with assaulting Tedra with a deadly weapon seven years ago.
According to news reports, Celeste stabbed Erickson with a knife in front of her two daughters. The case is to be heard in January. It has been ongoing for six years, partly because Erickson was not in the U.S. to give evidence.
If Justice Michael Peart at the High Court in Dublin rules to allow the extradition in December, Tedra and her mother could be returned to the U.S. to be tried for interference with a child custody case and parental abduction.
Peterson, who has two other children, has spent time behind bars with a record of harassment, theft, drunk driving and burglary.
Curtis Howard, Collin County assistant district attorney, said his side of the paperwork to complete the extradition process is complete and he is waiting on the Department of Justice and the State Department to do final approval. He said he is unsure what the status is in Ireland.
The Fear of Loss and the Need for Approval: How Abusive Women Control Men | MND: Your Daily Dose of Counter-TheoryIn Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, children criminals, Civil Rights, Non-custodial fathers, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath on November 19, 2009 at 2:45 am
Why is it so difficult for men who are being controlled by narcissistic, borderline, histrionic and other abusive women to end the relationship? What keeps them tethered to these abusive personalities sometimes even after the relationship has ended?
There are two basic hooks this kind of woman uses to keep men on a readily yank-able chain: the fear of loss and the need for approval. These are the two most powerful control devices in their arsenal. The worst part is that, in many cases, men unwittingly play right into their hands.
The Fear of Loss
The fear of loss is an especially powerful mechanism. It could be the fear of losing the relationship, fear of losing your children, your reputation or your money and other assets. Inducing fear, guilt, shame and a sense of obligation are how abusive women control you. If you’re afraid of loss and your wife/girlfriend/ex knows it, you’re basically at her mercy.
Abusive women will:
- Threaten you with abandonment. “If you don’t ’shape up,’ I’m leaving.”
- Threaten to alienate your children from you or deny you access to them. “If you don’t do as I say, I’m going to tell your son what a bastard you are” or “If you leave you’ll never see your kids again.”
- Threaten to destroy your career. “I’m going to tell everyone at your office what a sick pervert you are.”
- Threaten to take all your money. “You owe me. I’m entitled.”
Many of these women will implicitly or explicitly communicate that you’ll never meet anyone else like them. Let’s hope not. The resulting fear is that no other women will want you or find you attractive, which is nonsense. The reality is that emotionally abusive women are a dime a dozen. There’s nothing special about them—except for their highly dysfunctional and toxic characterological traits. You need to change your mindset. Perhaps by “losing” the relationship, you will, ultimately, “win.”
There are far better woman in the world who will treat you with kindness, respect, generosity and mutual consideration. You’re not lucky this woman “puts up with you;” she’s lucky that you put up with her. Being alone is better than being in an abusive relationship. If being on your own is too difficult at first; get a dog or a goldfish.
As for losing your assets, your children and your reputation, these are very real losses. However, if you’re persistent, you can regain and rebuild anything you lose. It won’t be exactly the same, but the longer you stay with this woman, the more you’ll lose—financially and emotionally. It’s confounding. Men are punished by the courts (i.e., spousal support) for staying in the marriage longer in an effort to work things out. You think you’re doing the right thing by hanging in there, but you’re actually giving your wife more power to hurt you when you finally divorce. Therefore, it’s better to get out sooner than later when you notice how lopsided, hurtful and inequitable your relationship is.
Kids are a tough one. You may well lose time with and access to your child(ren). On the other hand, consider what you’re modeling by staying in an abusive relationship. It’s better for a child to have one healthy and strong parent than two dysfunctional ones.
Exactly what are you afraid of losing? The abuse? The emotional withdrawal and rejection? Being made to feel less than? If this were anyone other than your wife/girlfriend/ex, would you want to even know this person? Have you challenged these fears with your intellect or are you being led by your “gut?”
When you fear loss, you need to stop “listening to your gut” and use your mind to reality test your fears. Abusive women are master manipulators who employ emotional reasoning that has very little to do with the facts of a situation. The emotionally based attacks also serve to confuse you and cloud your judgment. Therefore, when you’re afraid, stop listening to your gut and start reasoning with your brain.
Don’t just succumb to your fears; CHALLENGE THEM with your intellect, not the emotional reasoning that only reinforces them. More often than not, your fears are just distorted, self-limiting beliefs sown by your wife/gf/ex. By giving into your fear, you’re voluntarily walking into a cage and handing her the key. The truth is you have the power to release yourself. You will love again. You will find happiness. But you will only do so without this woman.
The Need for Approval
Another highly effective device abusive women use to control you is denying approval and acceptance. It’s natural to want to be liked and admired—especially by the person you love. Being criticized, demeaned, rejected and told repeatedly, “not good enough,” “you don’t measure up,” or that you’ve “failed again” is demoralizing. It also spurs you on to try even harder to please her and herein lies the problem: These women are never satisfied. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. She will never bestow upon you the kind of love and acceptance you seek.
You’re perpetuating a sick dynamic by seeking approval from someone who’ll never give it to you. Why? Because these women experience giving approval to others as a psychological and visceral loss. To tell you, “nice job” or “I appreciate you” somehow makes her feel less than and, as you well know, these women won’t tolerate that for a second.
Why does your wife’s/girlfriend’s/ex’s approval mean so much to you? Do you actually respect her and the way she conducts herself? A woman like this is an abusive, entitled and incredibly self-serving bully, so why do you care what she thinks? Seeking approval from someone who takes pleasure in cutting you down is a recipe for disappointment and pain.
The Way Out
Don’t let her solicited and unsolicited opinions get to you anymore. Recognize them for what they are: Abusive control tactics. Your overall goal is emotional detachment, which means you’re not invested in the outcome of this relationship. Once you’re no longer afraid of “losing” or care about receiving her approval, you’ll see the balance of power in the relationship shift.
She will be less able to “get to you,” which is a good thing. You’ll begin to care less, which is psychologically freeing. You’ll become more immune to the traps she sets and she won’t be able to figure out what the hell is happening. As you step out of this dysfunctional emotional dynamic, she’ll escalate her nasty behaviors as she frantically tries to maintain control and bully you back into place. She’ll be uncharacteristically speechless when her tried and true control devices no longer work.
Just remember, the more you commit to taking care of yourself, the more embittered she’ll grow. She’ll accuse you of being “selfish,” “inconsiderate” and “uncaring.” This is a good sign—for you. Abusive women view any attempt you make at self-care and growth as a grave betrayal. How dare you do something positive for yourself? How dare you not let her make you feel bad?
The more you put your needs first, the stronger and healthier you’ll become and your attraction to this supremely unhealthy woman should diminish. Abusive women remain in control by keeping you disoriented, hurting and in a psychologically weakened state. This is why she becomes alarmed when she sees you taking care of yourself.
Even if you don’t initially believe it, the freedom from abuse you’ll gain by ending this relationship will eventually outweigh any material losses you incur. You need to realize that you don’t have an actual relationship with this woman; it’s an autocracy in which she’s the petty tyrant and you live to serve. Furthermore, a woman like this isn’t capable of true intimacy and empathy, which are prerequisites for a healthy relationship. Your happiness lies in the future with someone else; not her.
Sadly, you may well see your children less or suffer through watching your ex turn them into her human shields, protectors and weapons to hurt you. However, by staying in an abusive relationship you’re exposing your children to a very unhealthy model of adult relationships. Nevertheless, this is a heartbreaking choice for many fathers. It may cost you money and potentially damage your relationship with your children, but what’s the cost of happiness, sanity and freedom from abuse?
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Originally posted on July 27, 2009 at A Shrink for Men.
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