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Posts Tagged ‘cps child trafficking’

From Welfare State to Police State

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on June 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm

May 4, 2008
by Stephen Baskerville

Family fragmentation costs taxpayers at least $112 billion annually in antipoverty programs, justice and education systems, and lost revenue, according to a report released last week. Astonishingly, the report’s publisher, Institute for American Values, is using these findings to advocate even higher costs, through more federal programs.

As welfare and child support enforcement programs show, there is zero proof that further government intervention into families would be a good investment for taxpayers.

After more than a decade of welfare reform, out-of-wedlock births remain at record highs, and married couples now comprise less than half the nation’s households. “The impact of welfare reform is now virtually zero,” says Robert Rector of Heritage Foundation.

Welfare reform, as currently conceived, cannot possibly make a difference. Out-of-wedlock births no longer proceed only from low-income teenagers. Increasingly, middle-class, middle-aged women are bearing the fatherless children. This excludes children of divorce, which almost doubles the 1.5 million out-of-wedlock births.

The problem is driven not only by culture, but by federal programs not addressed by welfare reform—such as child support enforcement, domestic violence, and child abuse prevention—which subsidize single-parent homes through their quasi-welfare entitlements for the affluent.

It’s not called the welfare “state” for nothing. Even more serious than the economic effects has been the quiet metamorphosis of welfare from a system of public assistance into a miniature penal apparatus, replete with its own tribunals, prosecutors, police, and jails.

The subsidy on single-mother homes was never really curtailed. Reformers largely replaced welfare with child support. The consequences were profound: this change transformed welfare from public assistance into law enforcement, creating yet another federal plainclothes police force without constitutional justification.

Like any bureaucracy, this one found rationalizations to expand. During the 1980s and 1990s—without explanation or public debate—enforcement machinery created for children in poverty was dramatically expanded to cover all child-support cases, including those not receiving welfare.

This vastly expanded the program by bringing in millions of middle-class divorce cases. The system was intended for welfare—but other cases now account for 83% of its cases and 92% of the money collected.

Contrary to what was promised, the cost to taxpayers increased sharply. By padding their rolls with millions of middle-class parents, state governments could collect a windfall of federal incentive payments. State officials may spend this revenue however they wish. Federal taxpayers subsidize state government operations through child support. They also subsidize family dissolution, for every fatherless child is another source of revenue for states.

To collect, states must channel not just delinquent but current payments through their criminal enforcement machinery, subjecting law-abiding parents to criminal measures. While officials claim their crackdowns on “deadbeat dads” increase collections, the “increase” is achieved not by collecting arrearages of low-income fathers already in the system, but simply by pulling in more middle-class fathers—and creating more fatherless children.

These fathers haven’t abandoned their children. Most were actively involved, and, following what is usually involuntary divorce, desire more time with them. Yet for the state to collect funding, fathers willing to care for them must be designated as “absent.” Divorce courts are pressured to cut children off from their fathers to conform to the welfare model of “custodial” and “noncustodial.” These perverse incentives further criminalize fathers, by impelling states to make child-support levels as onerous as possible and to squeeze every dollar from every parent available.

Beyond the subsidy expense are costs of diverting the criminal justice system from protecting society to criminalizing parents and keeping them from their children. The entitlement state must then devise additional programs—far more expensive—to deal with the social costs of fatherless children. Former Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Wade Horn contends that most of the $47 billion spent by his department is necessitated by broken homes and fatherless children. One might extend his point to most of the half-trillion dollar HHS budget. Given the social ills attributed to fatherless homes—crime, truancy, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide—it is reasonable to see a huge proportion of domestic spending among the costs.

These developments offer a preview of where our entire system of welfare taxation is headed: expropriating citizens to pay for destructive programs that create the need for more spending and taxation. It cannot end anywhere but in the criminalization of more and more of the population.

Stephen Baskerville is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College, and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).

The original article can be found here: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2184

Does Family Preservation Work? – Parental Rights

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

From the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform / 53 Skyhill Road (Suite 202) / Alexandria, Va., 22314 / info@nccpr.org / www.nccpr.org

Family preservation is one of the most intensively-scrutinized programs in all of child welfare. Several studies — and real world experience — show that family preservation programs that follow the Homebuilders model safely prevent placement in foster care.

Michigan’s Families First program sticks rigorously to the Homebuilders model. The Michigan program was evaluated by comparing children who received family preservation services to a “control group” that did not. After one year, among children who were referred because of abuse or neglect, the control group children were nearly twice as likely to be placed in foster care, as the Families First children. Thirty-six percent of children in the control group were placed, compared to only 19.4 percent of the Families First children. [1]

Another Michigan study went further. In this study, judges actually gave permission to researchers to “take back” some children they had just ordered into foster care and place them in Families First instead. One year later, 93 percent of these children still were in their own homes. [2] And Michigan’s State Auditor concluded that the Families First program “has generally been effective in providing a safe alternative to the out-of-home placement of children who are at imminent risk of being removed from the home The program places a high priority on the safety of children.” [3]

An experiment in Utah and Washington State also used a comparison group. After one year, 85.2 percent of the children in the comparison group were placed in foster care, compared to only 44.4 percent of the children who received intensive family preservation services.[4]

A study in California found that 55 percent of the control group children were placed, compared to only 26 percent of the children who received intensive family preservation services. [5]

A North Carolina study comparing 1,254 families receiving Intensive Family Preservation Services to more than 100,000 families who didn’t found that “IFPS consistently resulted in fewer placements…”[6]

And still another study, in Minnesota, found that, in dealing with troubled adolescents, fully 90 percent of the control group children were placed, compared to only 56 percent of those who received intensive family preservation services.[7]

Some agencies are now using IFPS to help make sure children are safe when they are returned home after foster care. Here again, researchers are beginning to see impressive results. In a Utah study, 77.2 percent of children whose families received IFPS help after reunification were still safely with their birth parents after one year, compared with 49.1 percent in a control group.[8]

Critics ignore all of this evidence, preferring to cite a study done for the federal government which purports to find that IFPS is no better than conventional services. But though critics of family preservation claim that this study evaluated programs that followed the Homebuilders model, that’s not true. In a rigorous critique of the study, Prof. Ray Kirk of the University of North Carolina School of Social Work notes that the so-called IFPS programs in this study actually diluted the Homebuilders model, providing service that was less intensive and less timely. At the same time, the “conventional” services sometimes were better than average. In at least one case, they may well have been just as intensive as the IFPS program – so it’s hardly surprising that the researchers would find little difference between the two.

Furthermore, efforts to truly assign families at random to experimental and control groups sometimes were thwarted by workers in the field who felt this was unethical. Workers resisted assigning what they considered to be “high risk” families to control groups that would not receive help from IFPS programs. In addition, the study failed to target children who actually were at imminent risk of placement.

Given all these problems, writes Prof. Kirk, “a finding of ‘no difference between treatment and experimental groups’ is simply a non-finding from a failed study.”[9]

Prof. Kirk’s findings mirror those of an evaluation of earlier studies purporting to show that IFPS was ineffective. The evaluation found that these studies “did not adhere to rigorous methodological criteria.”[10]

In contrast, according to Prof. Kirk, “there is a growing body of evidence that IFPS works, in that it is more effective than traditional services in preventing out-of-home placements of children in high-risk families.”[11]

Prof. Kirk’s assessment was confirmed by a detailed review of IFPS studies conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. According to this review:

“IFPS programs that adhere closely to the Homebuilders model significantly reduce out-of-home placements and subsequent abuse and neglect. We estimate that such programs produce $2.54 of benefits for each dollar of cost. Non-Homebuilders programs produce no significant effect on either outcome.”[12]

Some critics argue that evaluations of family preservation programs are inherently flawed because they allegedly focus on placement prevention instead of child safety. But a placement can only be prevented if a child is believed to be safe. Placement prevention is a measure of safety.

Of course, the key words here are “believed to be.” Children who have been through intensive family preservation programs are generally among the most closely monitored. But there are cases in which children are reabused and nobody finds out. And there are cases — like Joseph Wallace — in which the warnings of family preservation workers are ignored. No one can be absolutely certain that the child left at home is safe — but no one can be absolutely certain that the child placed in foster care is safe either — and family preservation has the better track record.

And, as discussed in Issue Paper 1, with safe, proven strategies to keep families together now widely used in Alabama, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere, the result is fewer foster care placements and safer children.

Indeed, the whole idea that family preservation — and only family preservation — should be required to prove itself over and over again reflects a double standard. After more than a century of experience, isn’t it time that the advocates of foster care be held to account for the failure of their program?

Updated, April 24, 2006

1. Carol Berquist, et. al., Evaluation of Michigan’s Families First Program (Lansing Mich: University Associates, March, 1993). Back to Text.

2. Betty J. Blythe, Ph.D., Srinika Jayaratne, Ph.D, Michigan Families First Effectiveness Study: A Summary of Findings, Sept. 28, 1999, p.18. Back to Text.

3. State of Michigan, Office of the Auditor General, Performance Audit of the Families First of Michigan Program, July, 1998, pp. 2-4. Back to Text.

4. Mark W. Fraser, et. al., Families in Crisis: The Impact of Intensive Family Preservation Services (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1991), p.168. Back to Text.

5. S. Wood, S., K. Barton, C. Schroeder, “In-Home Treatment of Abusive Families: Cost and Placement at One Year.” Psychotherapy Vol. 25 (1988) pp. 409-14, cited in Howard Bath and David Haapala, “Family Preservation Services: What Does the Outcome Research Really Tell Us,” Social Services Review, September, 1994, Table A1, p.400. Back to Text.

6. R.S. Kirk, Tailoring Intensive Family Preservation Services for Family Reunification Cases: Research, Evaluation and Assessment, (www.nfpn.org/resourcess/articles/tailoring.html). Back to Text.

7. I.M. Schwartz, et. al., “Family Preservation Services as an Alternative to Out-of-Home Placement of Adolescents,” in K. Wells and D.E. Biegel, eds., Family Preservation Services: Research and Evaluation (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1991) pp.33-46, cited in Bath and Happala, note 3, supra.Back to Text.

8. R.E. Lewis, et. al., “Examining family reunification services: A process analysis of a successful experiment,” Research on Social Work Practice, 5, (3), 259-282, cited in Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

9. R.S. Kirk, A Critique of the “Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report,” May, 2001. Back to Text.

10. A. Heneghan, et. al., Evaluating intensive family preservation services: A methodological review. Pediatrics, 97(4), 535-542, cited in Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

11. Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

12. Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Intensive Family Preservation Programs: Program Fidelity Influences Effectiveness. February, 2006, available online at http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/06-02-3901.pdf

The original article can be found here: http://www.nccpr.org/newissues/11.html

Parental Mediation Does Not Work, Wake Up U.S. Courts

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 8, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Introduction

One of the government’s most exhaustive research reports ever commissioned called ‘Monitoring Publicly Funded Family Mediation’ found that ‘mediation‘ in this country did not ‘meet the objectives of saving marriages or helping divorcing couples to resolve problems with a minimum of acrimony’ and as a result was forced to scrap the idea of making mediation compulsory – see the statement from the former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine, 16th.January 2000. However it is is still used as a method for deflecting fathers from receiving reasonable contact with their child or children. This section is intended to help fathers by highlighting some of the pitfalls of mediation with reference to the government’s own research report. If you have a query regarding any aspect of the mediation process, for example, Section 10, ‘The Parties Attitudes to Negotiation’, you can consult the government’s own research by clicking alongside!

“The government is committed to supporting marriage and to supporting families when relationships fail, especially when there are children involved. But this very comprehensive research, together with other recent valuable research in the field, has shown that Part II of the Family Law Act (i.e. Mediation) is not the best way of achieving those aims. The government is not therefore satisfied that it would be right to proceed with the implementation of Part II and proposes to ask Parliament to repeal it once suitable legislative opportunity occurs.”

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine,
16th.January 2000

NB For all legal aid certificates ‘mediation’ has to take place before the certificate (or funding) can be issued. However it can be deemed unnecessary if the mother makes an allegation of domestic abuse.

The original article can be found here: http://www.eventoddlersneedfathers.com/

How To Kidnap A Child

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on June 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm

by Stephen Baskerville, PhD

Congratulations! You have embarked on a great adventure. Kidnapping a child is probably unlike anything you have done before. If you are a first-time kidnapper you may be hesitant; perhaps you have lingering scruples. It is true you will probably do irreparable harm to your own child. Children of divorce more often become involved in drugs, alcohol, and crime, become pregnant as teenagers, perform poorly in school, join gangs, and commit suicide.

But look at the advantages! You can be rid of that swine you live with, with all his tedious opinions about child-rearing. YOU call the shots! What could be more rewarding? And a little extra cash each month never hurts, eh?

Few people realize how easy abduction is. It happens 1,000 times a day, mostly by parents! So if you’re thinking, “I could never get away with it,” wake up! Millions do. In fact many only realize the possibility when they become victims. Then they invariably say, “If only I had known how easy it is I would have done it myself!” So don’t be caught off guard. Read on, and discover the exciting world of child kidnapping and extortion.

If you are mother the best time to snatch is soon after you have a new child or pregnancy. Once you have what you want, you will realize that the father is no longer necessary (except for child support).

A father should consider snatching as soon as he suspects the mother might. Once she has the child, you have pretty much lost the game. You will always be at a disadvantage, but it is in your interest (as it is in hers) to snatch first. Preventive snatching may not look good (and unlike her, it can be used against you). But hey, you have the kid. If you hit the road, it could take years to track you down.

Surprise is crucial for an elegant abduction.
Wait until the other parent is away, and clean the place out thoroughly. Take all the child’s effects, because if you don’t grab it now you will never get it, and you will never be forced to return any of it. The more you have, the better “home” you can claim to provide. You also want to achieve the maximum emotional devastation to your spouse. Like the terrorist, you want to impress with how swift, sudden, and unpredictable your strike can be.

Concealing the child is illegal, but it will also buy you time. The police will make the case a low priority, and if you are a mother you will never be prosecuted. In the meantime claim to have established a “stable routine” and that returning the child (or even visits) would be “disruptive.” Anything that keeps the child in your possession and away from their father works to your advantage.

Find superficial ways to appear cooperative. Inform the father of your decisions (after you have made them). At the same time avoid real cooperation. The judge will conclude that the parents “can’t agree” and leave you in charge. Since it is standard piety that joint custody requires “cooperation,” the easiest way to sabotage joint custody is to be as uncooperative as possible.

Go to court right away. The more aggressive you are with litigation the more it will appear you have some valid grievance. The judge and lawyers (including your spouse’s) will be grateful for the business you create. Despite professions of heavy caseloads, courts are under pressure to channel money to lawyers, whose bar associations appoint and promote judges. File a motion for sole custody, and get a restraining order to keep the father from seeing his children. (A nice touch is to say he is planning to “kidnap” them.) Or have him restricted to supervised visitation.

Going to court is also a great opportunity to curtail anything you dislike about your spouse’s child-rearing. If you don’t like his religion, get an injunction against him discussing it. Is he fussy about table manners or proper behavior? Getting a court order is easier than you think. You may even get the child’s entire upbringing micro-managed by judicial directives.

Charges of physical and sexual abuse are also helpful. Accusing a father of sexually abusing his own children is very easy and can be satisfying for its own sake.

Don’t worry about proving the charges.
An experienced judge will recognize trumped-up allegations. This is not important, since no one will ever blame the judge for being “better safe than sorry,” and accusations create business for his cronies. You yourself will never have to answer for false charges. The investigation also buys time during which you can further claim to be establishing a routine while keeping Dad at a distance and programming the children against him.

Abuse accusations are also marvelously self-fulfilling.
What more logical way to provoke a parent to lash out than to take away his children? Men naturally become violent when someone interferes with their children. This is what fathers are for. The more you can torment him with the ruin of his family, home, livelihood, savings, and sanity, the more likely that he will self-destruct, thus demonstrating his unfitness.

Get the children themselves involved. Children are easily convinced they have been molested. Once the suggestion is planted, any affection from their father will elicit a negative reaction, making your suggestion self-fulfilling in the child’s mind. And if one of your new lovers actually has molested the child, you can divert the accusation to Dad.

Dripping poison into the hearts of your children can be gratifying, and it is a joy to watch the darlings absorb your hostility. Young children can be filled with venom fairly easily just by telling them what a rat their father is as frequently as possible.

Older children present more of a challenge. They may have fond memories of the love and fun they once experienced with him. These need to be expunged or at least tainted. Try little tricks like saying, “Today you will be seeing your father, but don’t worry, it won’t last long.” Worry aloud about the other parent’s competence to care for the child or what unpleasant or dangerous experience may be in store during the child’s visit. Sign the child up for organized activities that conflict with Dad’s visits. Or promise fun things, like a trip to Disneyland, which then must be “cancelled” to visit Dad.

You will soon discover how neatly your techniques reinforce one another. For example, marginalizing the father and alienating the child become perfect complements merely by suggesting that Daddy is absent because he does not love you. What could be more logical in their sweet little minds!

And what works with children is also effective with judges. The more you can make the children hate their father the easier you make it to leave custody with you.

Remember too, this guide is no substitute for a good lawyer, since nothing is more satisfying than watching a hired goon beat up on your child’s father in a courtroom.

And now you can do what you like! You can warehouse the kids in daycare while you work (or whatever). You don’t have to worry about brushing hair or teeth. You can slap them when they’re being brats. You can feed them fast food every night (or just give them Cheez Whiz). If they become a real annoyance you can turn them over to the state social services agency. You are free!

November 19, 2001

The original article can be found here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/baskerville1.html

Why Kids Usually Side with the Custodial Parent Especially If They’re Emotionally Abusive

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 7, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Do your children refuse to see you since you and your ex separated? When you actually get to see your kid(s), do they lash out at you? Do they know things about your break up or divorce that they shouldn’t know? Do they “diagnose” or berate you by using adult terms and expressions that are beyond their years?

If so, you’re probably experiencing the effects of parental alienation or hostile aggressive parenting. It’s normal to have hard feelings at the end of a significant relationship, however, you have a choice about how you handle it.

Most cases of parental alienation occur in dissolved marriages/relationships, break ups, and divorces in which there’s a high degree of conflict, emotional abuse, and/or mental illness or personality disorders.

If you were emotionally abused by your ex while you were still together, then your kid(s) learned some powerful lessons about relationships, especially if you had a “no talk” policy about the rages, yelling, and verbal attacks. Children are adversely affected by witnessing constant conflict and emotional abuse, no matter their age.

Emotionally abusive women and men are scary when on the attack, which probably makes it all the more confusing to see your ex turn your child(ren) against you. Don’t your kids see how out of whack their mom or dad is being? Don’t they know that you love them and how much you want to be in their lives? Don’t they realize they need you now more than ever? Yes and no.

On some level, they do know this. Nonetheless, they’re lashing out at you like mini-versions of your ex. Why?

It’s not that confusing if you think about it from a child’s perspective. Children depend utterly upon their custodial parent. Seeing mom or dad lose it and out of control is anxiety provoking, if not downright terrifying. The following are possible reasons why your ex’s campaign of parental alienation may be successful.

1.) You left them alone with the crazy person. You got out and they didn’t. They’re mad that you’re not there anymore to intervene, buffer, protect, or take the brunt of it.

2.) Self-preservation. They see how your ex is treating you because she or he is angry with you. Your kid(s) don’t want your ex’s wrath directed at them. It’s like siding with the bully at school so they don’t beat the crap out of you.

3.) Fear of loss. If they make your ex mad they worry that they’ll be emotionally and/or physically banished, too. This is especially true if your ex used to shut you out, give you the cold shoulder, and/or ignore you when she or he was upset with you. Your kids probably fear your ex will do this to them if they don’t go along with him or her.

4.) They’re mad at you. You’re no longer physically present at home, which they experience as psychological loss. Many kids experience this as betrayal and/or abandonment. Even if they can recognize that you didn’t have a happy marriage, they still want mom and dad to be together.

Loss, whether it’s physical (death) or psychological (divorce), requires a mourning period. Children aren’t psychologically equipped to handle grief and mourning. Pending other developmental milestones, kids don’t have the psychological capacity to successfully navigate loss until mid-adolescence. If you’d died, they could idealize your memory. However, you’re alive and chose to leave (or your ex chose for you). How do you mourn the loss of someone who’s not dead? It takes a level of intellectual sophistication children don’t possess not to vilify the physically absent parent—especially when your ex isn’t capable of it as an adult.

5.) Rewards and punishment. Your ex “rewards” the kids (material goods, praise, trips and fun activities—probably with your support money—oh the irony) for siding with her or him, being cruel to you, or cutting you off. If your kid(s) stand up for you or challenge your ex’s smear campaign, they’re chastised, lose privileges, or have affection withheld from them. Remember how your ex used to treat you when she or he was displeased? It’s way scarier when you’re a kid. You have options as an adult that your children don’t.

6.) The good son or daughter. They see how upset and out of control your ex is and want to take care of and make her or him “better.” They try to do this by doing what your ex wants, which is being hostile toward you and/or excluding you from their lives. This creates what psychologists refer to as the parentified child. Parentification forces a child to shoulder emotions and responsibilities for which she or he isn’t developmentally prepared.

Emotional parentification is particularly destructive for children and frequently occurs in parental alienation cases. The custodial parent implicitly or explicitly dumps their emotional needs on the child. The child becomes the parent’s confidante, champion/hero and surrogate for an adult partner. This is extremely unhealthy as it robs these kids of their childhood and leads to difficulty in having normal adult relationships later in life.

7..) Power and control. They see the power your ex wields by behaving in an abusive and hurtful way toward you. They can wield the same power by acting out and hurting you, too. A child or teenager’s first taste of power can be thrilling for them. Of course, what they’re learning from you ex is how to gain control by being an emotionally abusive bully.

8.) It’s good to be the victim. The more your ex plays the professional victim to friends, family and the legal system, the more benefits she or he gains—deferential treatment, sympathy, power, and money. The kids pick up on this victim mentality and behaviors and use it to net their own gains.

A combination of the above reasons probably applies to your child(ren) siding with your ex, particularly when you’ve been a good and loving parent. It’s demoralizing to have your kid(s) slap or push you away each time you reach out to them. It’s maddening that family court, in many cases, is blind to the abuses of parental alienation. Try to keep in mind that most children aren’t consciously aware that the above phenomena are occurring. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to be the emotional and financial punching bag for your ex and children.

The original article can be found here: http://washingtonsharedparenting.com/?p=411

Maternal Deprivation? Monkeys, Yes; Mommies, No…

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Indians, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Torts on June 7, 2009 at 5:00 am

Do children do best with one parent over another? Or does biology determine who is the better parent?

If you ask the feminists of the 70s who wanted to be free of restrictive child-rearing and assume an equal station in the workplace and politics, the answer to the first question would be no. Why would feminists give up their biologically superior position of motherhood, in which a mother is the primary caregiver, in favor of a job? What narcissists mother would do that?

And yet, today, if you ask the very self-same feminists who are leading the charge to narrow sole-custody of children in divorce proceedings to a woman based on some “biological advantage” the answer to the second question would be yes.

Upon this, you have the creation of a legally untenable position given to women based on gender. To get around “having your cake and eating it, too,” state family law has created the “imaginary world” of the “primary parent” dictum, which guides family law today, which is just a primary rehashing of “tender years doctrine”, both of which do not have the legal merit whatsover, nor the empirical research to support either.

But if you go back to the Maternal Deprivation nonsense, you quickly find the empirical research that throws this theory back into the area of “junk science” where it belongs. Maternal Deprivation is both empirically wrong and a sexist theory.

The junk science theory and refutation can be found here:
http://www.simplypsychology.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/bowlby.html

“Although Bowlby may not dispute that young children form multiple attachments, he still contends that the attachment to the mother is unique in that it is the first to appear and remains the strongest of all. However, on both of these counts, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

* Schaffer & Emerson (1964) noted that specific attachments started at about 8 months and, very shortly thereafter, the infants became attached to other people. By 18 months very few (13%) were attached to only one person; some had five or more attachments.

* Rutter (1981) points out that several indicators of attachment (such as protest or distress when attached person leaves) has been shown for a variety of attachment figures – fathers, siblings, peers and even inanimate objects.

Critics such as Rutter have also accused Bowlby of not distinguishing between deprivation and privation – the complete lack of an attachment bond, rather than its loss. Rutter stresses that the quality of the attachment bond is the most important factor, rather than just deprivation in the critical period.

Another criticism of 44 Thieves Study as that it concluded that affectionless psychopathy was caused by maternal deprivation. This is correlational data and as such only shows a relationship between these two variables. Indeed, other external variables, such as diet, parental income, education etc. may have affected the behaviour of the 44 thieves, and not, as concluded, the disruption of the attachment bond.”

There are implications arising from Bowlby’s work. As he believed the mother to be the most central care giver and that this care should be given on a continuous basis an obvious implication is that mothers should not go out to work. There have been many attacks on this claim:

* Mothers are the exclusive carers in only a very small percentage of human societies; often there are a number of people involved in the care of children, such as relations and friends (Weisner & Gallimore, 1977).

* Ijzendoorn & Tavecchio (1987) argue that a stable network of adults can provide adequate care and that this care may even have advantages over a system where a mother has to meet all a child’s needs.

* There is evidence that children develop better with a mother who is happy in her work, than a mother who is frustrated by staying at home (Schaffer, 1990).

There are many articles relating to this nonsense, and how it has been refuted. The original theory was promulgated by John Bowlby. Bowlby grew up mother-fixated because he did not have a relationship with his father. See why here.

Psychological research includes a shocking history and continuation of maternal deprivation experiments on animals. While maternal deprivation experiments have been conducted far more frequently on rhesus macaques and other monkeys, chimpanzees were not spared as victims of this unnecessary research.
Maternal Deprivation applies to monkeys only.

LA County Puts the “Fix” on Parents Rights

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Indians, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Your rights to retain physical and legal custody of your children during divorce proceeding is compromised by California’s new ex post facto law recently passed by the California Senate. As a matter of fact, in Los Angeles County, it already is.

In California counties divorce proceedings in the past 12 years may have been “fixed” in counties where counties supplemented Judges salaries with benefits above the state mandated salary. (Under California Law, only the state may compensate judges for performance of their work. The California Constitution (Sec. 17, 19, 20) states that Judges may not receive money from other parties than their employer, the State of California, and the Legislature has the sole responsibility for setting compensation and retirement benefits.)

However California, like all 50 states and territories, receive hundreds of Billions of $$ from the federal government to run its state courts and welfare programs, including Social Security Act Title Iv-D, Child Support Iv-E, Foster Care and VAWA prevention and intimidation programs against family law litigants. The federal block grants are then given to the counties applying for the monies.

If counties have been paying judges money above state legislated salaries, then counties have been fixing cases for years by maintaining de facto judicial officers to rule in their favor. How does this affect parent’s rights? The money received in block grants is applied for by the counties based on the divorce and custody proceeding awards. For example, the more sole custody or foster home proceedings existing in the county, the more money the county is qualified to receive.

Both the US Constitution, and the California Constitution. California’s wording is even stronger than the US Constitution. Here are the direct quotes:

United States Constitution, Section 9, Article 3
“No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.”

Constitution of the State of California – Article I, Section 9
“A bill of attainder ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts may not be passed.”

The law in question is SBX2 11 which retroactively pardons, just about everyone involved in official activity including judges who received money for benefits from the county.

“The California Constitution requires the Legislature to prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record. Existing law authorizes a county to deem judges and court employees as county employees for purposes of providing employment benefits. These provisions were held unconstitutional as an impermissible delegation of the obligation of the Legislature to prescribe the compensation of judges of courts of record. This bill would provide that judges who received supplemental judicial benefits provided by a county or court, or both, as of July 1, 2008, shall continue to receive supplemental benefits from the county or court then paying the benefits on the same terms and conditions as were in effect on that date.”

The law also goes on to state:

“This bill would provide that no governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, shall incur any liability or be subject to prosecution or disciplinary action because of benefits provided to a judge under the official action of a governmental entity prior to the effective date of the bill on the ground that those benefits were not authorized under law.”

Is this why attorney Richard I Fine is in a LA County Jail? For more on his story see:

Attorney Richard Fine files suit against judges http://www.dailynews.com/ci_8113733

Richard Fine, a brave and talented California attorney and United States Department of Justice Attorney http://www.ahrc.se/new/index.php/src/tools/sub/yp/action/display/id/2652

Metropolitan News-Enterprise http://www.metnews.com/articles/2009/stur021809.htm

The Full Disclosure Network: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/538.php and http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/539.php

JUDICIAL BENEFITS & COURT CORRUPTION (Part 3-4) http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/540.php

FISCAL CRISIS: Illegal Payments Create Law For Judicial Criminal & Liability Immunity: Nominees For U S Supreme Court To Be Impacted? See: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/news/labels/SBX2%2011.html

The Bill as passed by the Senate: http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sbx2_11_bill_20090214_amended_sen_v98.html

The Constitutionality of Child Support Guidelines

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 31, 2009 at 9:00 pm

© 2003 National Legal Research Group, Inc.

This article updates a previous article dealing with the same subject. Laura W. Morgan, The Constitutionality of Child Support Guidelines, 14 Divorce Litigation 117 (2002).

I. New Decisions

On April 29, 2003, the Supreme Court of Georgia decided Georgia Department of Human Resources v. Sweat, 2003 WL 1960012 (Ga. 2003). This case reviewed a trial court’s decision declaring the Georgia child support guidelines unconstitutional as a violation of the guarantees of due process, equal protection, and privacy, and as an unconstitutional taking of property. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that the trial court employed “incorrect constitutional standards” and “unsound constitutional analyses,” and reversed.

The Georgia Supreme Court first concluded that the guidelines do not violate the Georgia and United States Constitutions’ guarantees of due process for two reasons. First, the statute need only meet the rational basis test, i.e., it is reasonably related to the public health, safety, or general welfare, and not a more exacting constitutional standard, because the statute does not infringe on a fundamental right and the complaining party is not a member of a suspect class. The trial court thus erred by applying an intermediate scrutiny analysis. Second, the statute meets the rational basis test as it furthers the important and reasonable objective of ensuring adequate support for Georgia’s children whose parents have divorced. The distinction between custodial and non-custodial parents is required to ensure that each parent contributes his or her fair share.

The court next concluded that the guidelines do not violate the Georgia and United States Constitutions’ guarantee of equal protection. Again, because no fundamental right or suspect class is involved, the statute need only meet the rational basis test. Custodial and non-custodial parents are not, by definition, similarly situated, and it is not true that only non-custodial parents are affected by support orders. The guidelines thus draw permissible distinctions without discriminating.

The court further concluded that the guidelines do not violate the constitutional right of privacy. The state has a sufficient interest in ensuring adequate support for its children, and child support has never been a private function.

Finally, the guidelines do not effect an illegal taking. The guidelines are not a governmental taking of money for a public purpose, but are an effort to ensure payment of support from one parent to another.

On May 2, 2003, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided Gallaher v. Elam, 2003 WL 2010731 (Tenn. 2003). This decision reviewed a Tennessee Court of Appeals’ decision that held that Tennessee Child Support Guidelines ch. 1240-2-4-.03(4) violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Tennessee and United States Constitutions. This provision of the guidelines states: “Children of the obligor who are not included in a decree of child support shall not be considered for the purposes of reducing the obligor’s net income or in calculating the guideline amount. In addition, these children should not be considered by the court as a reason for deviation unless they meet the requirements of rule 1240-2-4-.04(4).” The court of appeals also held that Tennessee’s guidelines, by taking into consideration only the obligor’s income, also violated equal protection and due process.

The Tennessee Supreme Court began its analysis with the appropriate level of constitutional scrutiny and concluded that the guidelines need only meet the rational basis test. The lower court thus erred by applying heightened scrutiny.

Next, the court stated that the guidelines treat obligors who have children for whom there are no orders of support differently from obligors who have children subject to court-ordered support. This distinction meets the rational basis test because children who are subject to court orders and those who are not enjoy different benefits from the obligor.

The court then held that the state’s formula for computing child support, which is based solely on a percentage of the obligor’s income, does not result in any constitutional violation per se. This is because the guidelines presume (and it is true) that the obligee will be expending at least an equal percentage of net income as that of the obligor for the support of the children for whom support is sought. Moreover, the guidelines permit a deviation from the amount calculated if the presumptions underlying the guidelines are not present in the particular case. Thus, a parent can present evidence to the court regarding his or her case that will result in the fairest possible award.

Finally, the court concluded that there was no violation of separation of powers for the Department of Human Services to enact child support guidelines. The Department was clearly carrying out the legislature’s intent embodied in Tenn. Code Ann. 71-1-132(a)(1), which directed the Department to enact guidelines consistent with the federal mandate at 45 C.F.R. 302.56. The delegation of power was thus constitutional.

II. Analysis

The law is clear that child support guidelines need only meet the rational basis test in order to pass constitutional scrutiny. In case after case, the courts have held that child support guidelines must meet this test. Yet, non-custodial parents continue to press in state after state the same arguments: that child support guidelines violate due process, equal protection, the right of privacy, the separation of powers, First Amendment rights, etc. Why?

There is a persistent view that child support guidelines treat non-custodial parents unfairly, that the amount they pay is simply too much. This view persists even though study after study has shown that (a) non-custodial parents’ standard of living goes up after divorce, while custodial parents’ standard of living goes down; and (b) child support does not reach even the basic levels of expenditures on children in intact families as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture.

One reason for this persistent view may be the percentage of income model itself. Both of these recent challenges came from states, Georgia and Tennessee, that use the percentage of income model. Although this model presumes that the custodial parent is contributing to the support of the child(ren) in the same percentage as the non-custodial parent, this presumption is not as explicit in the method of calculating support as it is in income shares model states. Where the perception of fairness is as important as fairness itself, it may be a good idea for percentage of income model states to switch to the income shares model.

Another reason may be non-custodial parents’ frustration with an inability to obtain custody/visitation in an amount they desire. When a parent does not see a child as much as he or she wishes, that parent is less likely to pay support or view support as fair.

There should be no battle on this topic. All parents should agree that children are entitled to a “fair” amount of support, and all parents should agree that both parents, in the absence of domestic violence or other vitiating factors, should have as much access to the child as is in the best interests of the child. Fairness can be ensured by a child support guideline model that takes into consideration as many factors as possible, including both parents’ incomes, and access to the child should be a priority with the courts. If both these goals are realized, the constitutional challenges will diminish.

IMMUNITY BROKEN – Children Not Protected by Legal System

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on May 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm

by Demosthenes Lorandos, Ph.D., J.D.

ABSTRACT

This article was written to address the immunity claims made by those hired, elected or appointed to serve children in our legal system when they are sued for outrageous acts. This article argues that since the passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (“The Mondale Act”) false claims of child abuse have wrecked havoc on American families. In order to understand the claims for immunity made by doctors, social workers and attorneys who mis-serve children, this article provides a discussion of immunity and its operation in our law. Following a historical overview, this article describes the various claims to immunity from suit made by government officials, prosecutors, law enforcement personnel, guardians, appointed counsel, social workers and various private parties. For the purpose of illustrating how immunity claims may be addressed, this article presents an actual account of a Michigan case concerning issues of Guardian ad Litem immunity. It is the express position of this author that people who chose to aide or represent children must do so competently and professionally or not at all.

_________________________________________________

Since the passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (“The Mondale Act”) false claims of child abuse have wrecked havoc on American families.

Certainly it is true that children are starved, beaten, raped and killed every day. They deserve protection. The purpose of this article is to address the immunity claims made by those hired, elected or appointed to serve children in our legal system. In order to understand the claims for immunity made by doctors, social workers and attorneys who mis-serve children, this article will begin with a brief discussion of immunity and its operation in our law.

The second part of this article will focus on the various claims to immunity from suit made by government officials, prosecutors, law enforcement personnel, guardians, appointed counsel, social workers and various private parties. The last portion of this work will present an actual account of a ground breaking case being fought through the courts of Michigan on the issue of Guardian ad Litem immunity from suit for negligence, incompetence and intentional torts. It is the express position of this author that people who chose to aide or represent children must do so competently and professionally or not at all.

A. JUDICIAL IMMUNITY
EARLY FORMULATIONS:

The concept of judicial immunity developed in our law from early Anglo-Saxon origins. As Professor Block informs:

“Under Anglo-Saxon law of the tenth and eleventh centuries, a judgment (doom) could be impeached by charging the official proposing the judgment (the doomsman) with falsehood. This proceeding, known as “forsaking the doom”, developed into the complaint of “false judgment”, whereby a dissatisfied litigant obtained a writ commanding the challenged court to cause a record of its proceedings to be made and brought before the court of the litigant’s superior lord. The complainant could accept the court’s record and thus confine the issues to errors of law. But this record could be challenged by anyone willing to engage in physical combat with the champions of the challenged court. If the challenge succeeded, the lower court’s judgment was annulled and the court was amerced.” Block, Stump v Sparkman and the History of Judicial Immunity, 4980 Duke L.J. 879, 881 (l980).

Displeased with trial by combat, law evolved in England, and in the early l7th century Sir Edward Coke in Floyd and Barker, 77 Eng. Rep. 1305 (Star Chamber l607), and The Case of the Marshalsea, 77 Eng. Rep. 1027 (Star Chamber l6l2), laid out the foundation for the doctrine of judicial immunity. In Barker, Coke established the immunity of a judge “for anything done by him as a judge” 77 Eng. Rep. at l307. It seems that Judge Barker convicted William Price of murder and sentenced him to death. After the sheriff executed Mr. Price, one Mr. Floyd brought charges against Judge Barker for conspiracy. Sir Edward Coke’s decision gave immunity from suit to all of those involved in the prosecution of Price, made it quite clear that Judge Barker’s immunity was absolute. In so doing, Coke identified four (4) grounds in public policy for judicial immunity. First, he indicated a necessity for a finality of judgment. Second, Coke offered that immunity is necessary to maintain judicial independence. Third, Coke held for the independence of thought and freedom from manipulation that immunity would provide, and lastly, Coke offered that in order to engender respect and confidence in the judiciary and the government, immunity for judicial acts was necessary.

Some five years after declaring immunity for judicial acts, Lord Coke modified his doctrine in The Case of the Marshalsea, 77 Eng. Rep. 1027 (Star Chambers l6l2). In Marshalsea, Coke set forth a jurisdictional limitation on the doctrine of judicial immunity. For immunity to apply said Coke, not only did the act have to be judicial in nature, but the judge must have had subject matter jurisdiction over the cause for which he acted. In Marshalsea, a judge presiding over a case in assumpsit found against the defendant. This defendant’s surety was jailed until the judgment was paid. The surety brought an action against the judge for his imprisonment and the judge defended by claiming immunity. Rejecting the immunity claim, Coke held that the judge had no jurisdiction over actions in assumpsit and thus the proceedings were void. As Coke described it:

“[W]hen a Court has (a) jurisdiction of the cause, and proceeds inverso ordine or erroneously, there the party who sues, or the officer or minister of the Court who executes the precept or process of the Court, no action lies against them. But (b) when the Court has not jurisdiction of the cause, there the whole proceeding is [before a person who is not a judge], and actions will lie against them without any regard of the precept or process…” 77 Eng. Rep. at 1038-41.

Clearly, this laid the foundation for judicial immunity. Coke established requirements for its application, restricting immunity to judicial acts made within the judge’s jurisdiction. In addition, he set forth a policy underlying the doctrine: (1) insuring the finality of judgment; (2) protecting judicial independence; (3) avoiding continuous attacks on sincere and conscientious judges; and (4) maintaining respect for the judiciary and the government.

To read the remaining portion of this article on http://familyrights.us/bin/white_papers-articles/immunity_broken.htm

Indentured Families – Social conservatives and the GOP: Can this marriage be saved?

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

by Allan Carlson
03/27/2006, Volume 011, Issue 26

IN THE INTERNAL POLITICS OF the Republican coalition, some members are consistently more equal than others. In particular, where the interests of the proverbial “Sam’s Club Republicans” collide with the interests of the great banks, the Sam’s Club set might as well pile into the family car and go home.

Consider, to take one recent instance, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, enacted last year, after a long delay, with support from congressional Republicans. A controversial clause that would have prevented abortion protesters from filing for bankruptcy to avoid paying court-ordered fines had stalled the measure. After the Senate rejected this provision, GOP leaders drove the bill through both houses of Congress and gained an enthusiastic signature from President George W. Bush.

In a nutshell, the new law makes a “clean start” after filing for bankruptcy much more difficult for families with at least one wage earner. Instead, most affected households will find themselves essentially indentured to a bank or credit card bureau, paying off their debt for years to come. “A new form of feudalism,” one critic calls it.

In truth, some had abused the old law, turning repeated bankruptcy filings into a kind of circus. A tightening on this side probably made sense. Significantly, though, the new law made no real changes on the lenders’ side, measures that might have reined in an increasingly predatory credit industry. It is common knowledge, for example, that credit card companies intentionally urge financially troubled families to borrow still more money, because they can charge these households exorbitant interest rates. As one Citibank executive has candidly observed, “They are the ones who provide most of our profit.” Late payment fees, another favored industry device, reportedly deliver over 30 percent of credit card financing revenue. Assurances by lawmakers that the new law will bring credit card interest rates down fly in the face of these more fundamental corporate strategies.

True, in the context of America’s new debt-driven economy, this treatment of financially troubled families may constitute “good business” (even if under older ethical standards it’s the equivalent of offering a barrel of whiskey to an alcoholic). More fundamentally, though, the GOP’s opting for an outcome that’s good for Citibank’s profits while disregarding the effects on families should cause no surprise.

SOME HISTORY may help here. The modern “family issues” are actually about a century old. The first openly “pro-family” president was a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt. Between 1900 and about 1912, he wrote and spoke often, and eloquently, about the dangers of a rising divorce rate and a falling birth rate. He celebrated motherhood and fatherhood as the most important human tasks, and described the true marriage as “a partnership of the soul, the spirit and the mind, no less than of the body.” He blasted as “foes of our household” the birth control movement, equity feminism, eugenics, and liberal Christianity.

However, the Rough Rider was the only prominent Republican of his time to think and talk this way. The dominant wing of the GOP tilted in favor of the banks, the great industries, and–perhaps more surprisingly–the feminist movement. Indeed, as early as 1904, the National Association of Manufacturers had formed an alliance with the feminists, for they shared an interest in moving women out of their homes and into the paid labor market. When the feminists reorganized as the National Woman’s party in 1917, the manufacturers’ association apparently provided secret financial support. More openly, Republican leaders embraced the feminists’ proposed Equal Rights Amendment, first advanced in Congress in 1923. The GOP was also the first major party to endorse the ERA in its platform.

Meanwhile, the Democrats consolidated their 19th-century legacy of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”: that is, as the party favoring beer halls, the new immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe, southern agrarians, northern Catholics, small property, the trade unions, and–importantly–the “family wage” for male workers. This cultural and legal device sought to deliver a single wage to fathers sufficient to support a wife and children at home. The Democrats also welcomed the “Maternalists” into their ranks, female activists who–while believing strongly in equal legal and political rights for women–also emphasized the natural differences between the sexes when it came to childbirth and child care. They favored federal programs for the training of girls in home economics and for “baby saving,” meaning efforts to reduce infant and maternal mortality. They fiercely opposed working mothers and day care. Under this Maternalist influence, every New Deal domestic program openly assumed or quietly reinforced the goal of a “family wage” and the model American family of a breadwinning father, a homemaking mother, and an average of three or four children.

In short, from 1912 until 1964, the Democrats were–on balance–the pro-family party. The Republicans, on balance, were the party of business interests and the feminists.

All this changed between 1964 and 1980 with the emergence of the “Reagan Democrats.” This radical reorientation of American domestic politics began with debate about adding “sex” to the list of prohibited discriminations under Title VII (employment issues) of the proposed Civil Rights Act of 1964, a fascinating event that ended with the addition of “sex” and the ensuing legal destruction of the “family wage” regime. The broad transformation continued with the rise of the “pro-family movement” during the 1970s, behind early leaders such as Phyllis Schlafly and Paul Weyrich. It ended in 1980 with the solid movement of northern Catholics and southern evangelicals into the Republican party, and the counter-movement of feminists and the new sexual revolutionaries into the Democratic fold. Ronald Reagan, a proud four-time voter for Franklin D. Roosevelt and a lifelong admirer of the New Deal, explained his 1980 victory to a group of Catholic voters this way:

The secret is that when the left took over the Democratic party we [former Democrats] took over the Republican party. We made the Republican party into the party of the working people, the family, the neighborhood, the defense of freedom. And yes, the American Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance to One Nation Under God. So, you see, the party that so many of us grew up with still exists except that today it’s called the Republican party.

In fact, this was only partly true. For the Republican party as reshaped by Reagan now saw pro-family social conservatives in political alliance with the interests of the banks and the large corporations. Main Street and Wall Street were under the same tent, which was a very new development.

SO, HOW WELL has the Republican party performed as the party of the traditional family? At the level of the party platform, it has done fairly well. Since 1980, pro-family activists have successfully shaped Republican platforms that oppose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorse a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade and protect pre-born infant life, and call for pro-family tax measures.

And there have been concrete wins. Regarding taxation, for example, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 doubled the value of the child-friendly personal exemption and indexed it to inflation. Ten years later, another tax bill created a new Child Tax Credit. George Bush’s 2001 tax cut raised this credit to $1,000 per child and began to eliminate the tax code’s notorious marriage penalty.

There have been other gains. Congress approved and President Bush signed a ban on partial-birth abortion. The welfare reform of 1996 eliminated perverse incentives to out-of-wedlock births. Under the current President Bush, the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families and the Office of Population Affairs, important branches of the Department of Health and Human Services, are in pro-family hands. As of last month, so is the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Judges with pro-family records have won presidential appointment to federal courts, most recently Samuel Alito. Especially with the current administration, social conservatives have sometimes felt that they actually hold a true seat at the table.

Even so, all is not well within the existing Republican coalition. Indeed, there are other indicators that the Republican party has done relatively little to help traditional families, and may in fact be contributing to their new indentured status. Certainly at the level of net incomes, the one-earner family today is worse off than it was thirty years ago, when the GOP began to claim the pro-family banner. Specifically, the median income of married-couple families, with the wife not in the paid labor force, was $40,100 in 2002, less than it had been in 1970 ($40,785) when inflation is taken into account. In contrast, the real earnings of two-income married couple families rose by 35 percent over the same years (to nearly $73,000). Put another way, families have been able to get ahead only by becoming “nontraditional” and sending mother to work or forgoing children altogether. As the Maternalists had warned, eliminating America’s “family wage” system would drive male wages down and severely handicap the one-income home. So it has happened.

Despite the economic pressures, though, such families are not extinct. They still form core social conservative constituencies such as home schooling families and families with four or more children. But again, they have little to show from the years of the Republican alliance. Indeed, the GOP has done absolutely nothing to curb the egalitarian frenzy and the gender-role engineering set off by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and enshrined at the Pentagon. Equity feminism still rules these roosts.

Or consider child care. A timely veto by Richard Nixon stopped the government’s day care juggernaut in 1971, but only for a few months. The same year, Nixon signed a Republican-designed measure also backed by the National Organization for Women (heir to the GOP-favored National Woman’s party). This law allowed families to deduct day care costs from their income tax, cleverly labeling them “business expenses.” This has since grown into a credit worth between $1,500 and $2,100 in reduced taxes for households using day care. Even the wealthiest qualify.

Meanwhile, families that sacrifice a second income to keep a mother or father at home receive nothing except a higher net tax. Bills to correct this gross inequity have been regularly introduced in Congress since 1996, most recently the Parents’ Tax Relief Act of 2006 (H.R. 3080). However, the Republican leadership has ignored them. To underscore the lost opportunity here, note that conservatives in Canada rode to victory just a few weeks ago by embracing a plan to extend that nation’s day care benefit to stay-at-home parents; not a whiff of this, though, in the recent State of the Union address.

Add to these examples the bankruptcy reform measure discussed earlier, and ask: What do these issues have in common? All three are matters where the interests of big business and the interests of traditional, one-breadwinner families have collided, and in each case the Republican party has sided in the end with business. Concerning one-income families, the great corporations continue to view them as a waste of human resources, artificially raising labor costs by holding adults at home. Judging by its inaction and results, the GOP agrees. For the same reason, large businesses generally favor federally subsidized day care, for it creates incentives for mothers to work rather than care for their children. Existing Republican policy strongly favors this social parenting. And the credit industry has every interest in creating a new, indentured debtor class annually sending 20 percent of its income to the banks. The Republicans concur.

OTHER DEBT-DRIVEN FAMILY ISSUES are looming, with little indication of a Republican willingness to tackle them in a pro-family way. Consider the Federal Student Loan program, launched in the mid-1960s as a modest supplement to means-tested federal education grants. The system has since morphed into a massive debt machine, lending out $58 billion in 2005 alone and fueling a huge increase in college and university costs. The average bachelor’s degree recipient currently graduates with $20,000 in debt; students having attended graduate school report another $50,000 to $100,000 in debt, creating in one commentator’s words “the most indebted generation of young Americans ever.”

Here we find another newly indentured class of Americans, also paying about 20 percent of their incomes to the banks for decades to come. Disturbingly, over 20 percent of these borrowers report that they have delayed having children because of their debt, while 15 percent say they have delayed marriage. These are not pro-family outcomes. The most recent Republican response to the borrowers’ plight–undertaken in early February in the name of fiscal responsibility–was to pass a measure whose net effect will be to raise the long-term debt facing young adults.

Another troubling new issue is Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the federal government’s child support collection and enforcement program. Originally designed to track down the welfare fathers of illegitimate children, the measure has increasingly targeted middle income households affected by divorce. There is mounting evidence that the system now encourages marital breakup and exacerbates fatherlessness by creating a winner-take-all game, where the losing parent–commonly a father wanting to save the marriage–is unfairly penalized by the loss of his children and by a federally enforced child support obligation. Here we find objectively false feminist views–the assumption that men are always the abusers and women are always the victims–driving public policy. And here we find still another newly indentured class of citizens–noncustodial parents–being squeezed financially by the state. If you think this an exaggeration,

I refer you to no less an authority than Phyllis Schlafly, who calls this runaway federal law the most serious danger facing American families today.

Democrats often dream of wooing the “Reagan Democrats” back into the fold. Bill Clinton, who could speak “evangelical” and who embraced pro-family tax and welfare reforms, succeeded to some degree. Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg, who actually coined the phrase “Reagan Democrats,” argues that “a new, family-centered politics can define and revitalize the Democratic party.” Its message should highlight “family integrity and parental responsibility” and offer a “progressive vision of family support.” Greenberg even theorizes that “Roman Catholics would [again] rally to a Democratic party respectful of family and committed to defending government’s unique role in supporting it.”

If the Democratic party remains the party of the sexual revolution, as its open yearning for same-sex marriage suggests it may, such dreams will remain just that. However, if a Democratic leader can ever shake that monkey off his–or her–back, and if this occurs in conjunction with an economic downturn, the prospects for another broad political realignment are fairly high. A new economic populism, delivering child-sensitive benefits and skewering predatory banks and bureaucrats, could work politically for a clever Democrat.

Moreover, when push comes to shove, social conservatives remain second class citizens under the Republican tent. During the 2004 Republican convention, they were virtually confined to the party’s attic, kept off the main stage, treated like slightly lunatic children. Republican lobbyist Michael Scanlon’s infamous candid comment–“The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right [and] Christian radio”–suggests a common opinion among the dominant “K Street” Republicans toward their coalition allies.

Contemporary Republican leaders need to do better–much better–toward social conservatives. They must creatively address pressing new family issues centered on debt burden. And they must learn to say “no” sometimes to Wall Street, lest they squander the revolutionary political legacy of Ronald Reagan.

Allan Carlson is president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society in Rockford, Illinois.
© Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Lost Parent’s Perspective – Chapter 5 of 5

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 23, 2009 at 1:00 am

by Despina Vassiliou
Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, McGill University
3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2
CHAPTER 5

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The present qualitative study examined lost parents’ perceptions of the alienating circumstances they and their families experienced in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the nature of Parental Alienation Syndrome and its consequences. The participants included five fathers and one mother who perceived themselves as having experienced PAS. The data were collected via semi-structured, open-ended interview questionnaires. The results consisted of verbatim data transcribed from participants’ tape recorded responses. A qualitative analysis of the compiled data was performed for each participant. This section presents a summary and discussion of all the results. The four previously outlined study objectives are addressed with respect to the findings of the present study.

Question 1: Are there characteristics (e.g., number of children, number of marriages, etc.) common to alienated families?

Previous studies on alienation that have examined the role of family characteristics as possible factors in the occurrence of the alienation have found differing results. For instance, in the study conducted by Dunne and Hedrick (1994) family characteristics were not found to be a factor of PAS, whereas a study conducted by Calabrese et al., (1987) found that characteristics of individuals were better predictors of alienation than family characteristics. Specifically, high levels of alienation were found to be associated with unemployed, single mothers with a daughter. Further, the daughter was found to have had few friends. Although a number of the participants in the present study had tended to only one PAS child, the lost parents tended to remarry after the alienation, and the alienators had tended to relocate with the PAS child. These results were found to be weak indicators of PAS as they were not reported by a majority of the participants (i.e., greater than 50%). Supporting the results of Dunne and Hedrick (1994), it appears that family characteristics such as number of children, number of marriages, and number of relocations are weak indicators in the occurrence of PAS. Though these findings contradict those of Calabrese et al., (1987), they examined different family characteristics reported by the alienator and found that individual family members characteristics, such as the alienator’s employment and the gender of PAS and non-PAS children were relevant in the occurrence of PAS. Further study is required with a larger sample and more detailed questions concerning the number and gender of PAS children and non-PAS children, the number of marriages by both alienator and lost parent, the current marital status and employment of each parent, and the number and reasons for relocations. With these specific questions, a larger sample, and a comparison group of non-PAS divorced families, more light might be shed on the role of family characteristics in the occurrence of PAS.

Question 2: Are there common themes or issues among the conflicts within couples that contribute to marriage dissolution?

Previous studies examined the effects of conflict involved in separation and/or divorce on individual family members. For instance, Johnston, Gonzalez, and Campbell (1987) examined the behaviour of children from separated and/or divorced families who were subjected to “entrenched” parental conflict regarding their custody. It was postulated, in the current study, that an elevated level of conflict contributed to the occurrence of PAS. However, the results suggest that the dissolution of the PAS marriages occurred with varying degrees of conflict, from high levels of conflict including physical aggression, to situations with absolutely no conflict. The current study also found that with time, the majority of the participants reported strained relationships with their ex-spouses, where most had little or no contact with their ex-spouses due to a degradation of communication between the parents. These results suggest that there may be other factors aside from initial marital conflict that contributes to the occurrence of PAS. Lund’s (1995) findings indicated that a heightened number of conflicts occurring during the divorce, not during the marriage, may contribute to the occurrence of PAS. Again, further study of separating families is necessary to determine whether it is other factors that occur during the dissolution of the marriage and subsequent custody proceedings or if it is the time of the conflicts with respect to the divorce that plays a more significant role in PAS. Such studies should consist of a long-term examination of the situations that occur in separating families and the family member’s responses to them. For instance, a future study may have participants maintain daily journals that chronicle the events of the separation and these journals may later be analyzed qualitatively in order to determine whether any similarities exist across different families.

Question 3: Are there common themes in the participants’ experience of the alienation process?

Several common themes among the cases were found in the present study. Interestingly, these commonalties spanned the continent; they were not focused geographically. One commonality was that the PAS children were “enlisted” by the alienating parent as secondary alienators to them (i.e., to the primary alienator) to contribute to the alienation. This finding is consistent with the characteristics of PAS children described by Gardner (1992). Also described by Gardner (1992) and Cartwright (1993), others such as grandparents participated and contributed to the alienation. The reasons for which extended family members participate in that alienation remains unclear. Although there is some support for the notion that the closeness of these other alienators to the alienating parent may play a role, the results were inconclusive. A future study could contribute to the knowledge of PAS by examining the roles of the extended family members of PAS children.

A second commonality was that the lost parents reported feeling powerless as a result of the alienating situation. Others, especially the children, appeared to have gained control of the lost parents’ behaviour. These children could determine when, if at all, they would see their lost parent under what circumstances, and particularly what the lost parent would do with the child. The lost parent had to be careful not to anger their child lest they not see the child again. The sense that power shifted from the parent to the child, although not previously examined in the field of PAS, remains a logical consequence of the custody proceedings. As Turkat (1994) noted, the family undergoes a shift from having two parents who make decisions for the child, to one parent becoming a “visitor” in the child’s life. The “visiting” parent then loses the influence that he or she had previously and is unable to make the same decisions as he or she once did.

Third, the results suggest a lack of satisfaction with the services rendered by both legal and mental health professionals. The participants perceived a lack of knowledge of PAS on the part of the professionals, as well as a failure at the professional level to gather pertinent information prior to drawing conclusions. Participants perceived the psychological services they received as not helping the alienating situation, and perceived the legal professionals as supporting and even contributing to the alienation. The sense of dissatisfaction toward mental health professionals may be merited. Currently, there is a minimal amount of research conducted on PAS by psychologists and psychiatrists. Consequently, the number of these professionals who have any knowledge and understanding of PAS may be limited. Further research and discussion of the topic is imperative in order to provide more mental health professionals with greater knowledge of PAS and the intervention techniques that may be useful.

Legal professionals appear to be more aware of PAS as more articles are published by lawyers. However, the dissatisfaction with the legal system appears to stem from lawyers contributing to the alienation. Many have postulated that the legal system contributes to the occurrence of PAS (Gardner, 1992; 1991; Clawar & Rivlin, 1991; Dunne & Hedrick, 1994; and Girdner 1985). For instance, Cartwright (1993) had noted that prolonged legal proceedings contribute to the occurrence of PAS. Much of the blame for the occurrence of PAS may be related to the dissatisfaction the lost parents experienced with the legal system. This dissatisfaction may be due to the lost parents losing primary custody of their children to alienators. As a result, it is imperative that indicators and precursors of PAS be established in order to better inform judges, lawyers, and mental health professionals about PAS. These professionals, working together, can influence the outcome for PAS families. Their influence is shown with the findings of Dunne and Hedrick (1994) who linked the termination of PAS to the legal enforcement of a change in custody from the alienators to the lost parents. This finding was the only one to suggest an effective intervention for PAS families. Specifically, a possible intervention includes mental health professionals identifying PAS families to the legal professionals, who can then legally enforce the necessary change in custody.

The role of these professionals is also to inform others of PAS and its consequences. Currently, Anita Woolfolk (1998), in her bestselling textbook Educational Psychology, provides some startling information to student teachers. In her note to be “sensitive” to the rights of information for both parents, she suggests the following:

1. “When parents have joint custody, both are entitled to receive information and attend parent-teacher conferences.”
2. “The noncustodial parent may still be concerned about the child’s school progress.” (emphasis added) (p. 96)

In her first point, she neglects to mention the rights of noncustodial parents and when she does so in her second point, she states that they “may still be concerned” about their child. Such remarks provide future teachers with the impression that once a parent loses custody they also lose their parental rights and feelings for their children. Under Quebec law, Article 648 stipulates that a parent retains parental authority even if that parent does not have physical custody of the child (as cited in Department of Justice Canada, 1993). Specifically, parental authority is elaborated in Article 647 of the Quebec Civil Code (as cited in Department of Justice Canada, 1993) is stated as follows:

The father and mother have the rights and duties of custody, supervision and education of their children. They must maintain their children.

Fourth, the results of the present study suggest that the lost parents attributed the cause of the alienation to the alienators’ feelings and desires. Specifically, they perceived the alienators’ actions as motivated by hate and anger, revenge or some combination of these. However, these results lack enough detail to determine whether these motivations may be influenced by the influences that Gardner (1992) had suggested, such as the alienators’ mental health and the legal system. Specifically, the motivations of hate and/or anger and revenge found in the present study may be mediated by the alienators’ mental health as well as the alienators’ reactions to the lengths, processes, and outcomes of their legal cases.

Fifth, the results suggest a change in the frequency of visitation and custody arrangements impact on the relationships between the lost parents and their children. The participants reported that primary custody was given to the mother at the onset of the divorce, regardless of who later became the alienator and who later became the lost parent. Further, the fathers all had a consistent visitation schedule at the beginning of the custody arrangements (e.g., one weekend every two weeks). The final custody arrangements resulted in the alienators receiving custody and the lost parents receiving a significant reduction in their visitation schedules from half the original plan to no contact at all. Of interest is the apparent gender bias in initial custody agreements; specifically, mothers received primary custody. However, following the alienation all the lost parents — even the mother with initial primary custody — had their visitation drastically reduced. Moreover, as expected with a reduction of visitation, the lost parents described limited relationships with their children to whom they often wrote without reply. The only exception were two fathers who related that they probably maintained a relatively steady relationship with their children because the PAS was mild and even one of these fathers was alienated from his eldest child and with whom he had a limited relationship.

Overall, these findings indicate that there are several possible factors, such as changes in relationships among family members, the roles of mental health and legal professionals, as well as custody arrangements, that may be indicators or precursors to PAS. All of these factors lend support to several of Lund’s (1995) findings. First, Lund’s (1995) identified separation difficulties that are developmentally inappropriate as a contribution to PAS. It is possible that the pattern of the change in custody arrangements (where the alienator received primary custody at the end of the custody dispute) may result in the separation difficulties described by Lund’s (1995). Second, a characteristic of PAS children is that they exhibit some form of “oppositional” behaviour at least to the lost parent, as supported in the present study. Third, Lund’s (1995) also found that the non-custodians’ parental skills deteriorated and contributed to the occurrence of PAS. Such deterioration of the parental skills may be a result of the lost parent’s sense of lost power over their situation and, as indicated in the present study, they did not exercise their usual parenting styles. The lost parents reported that they felt that disciplining the PAS child may result in the child becoming angry and retaliating by denying visits with the lost parent. Since there appears to be several factors that may influence the occurrence of PAS, a long-term study that examines these singly and in combination may provide a useful insight as to possible indicators.

Question 4: Given the opportunity, what are some things that the lost parents perceive they might do differently?

The results of the current study suggest that armed with the knowledge they have now, each participant would have taken other means in order to prevent the current alienated situation from ever occurring. Examples of the means they would take include never having married, taking different legal routes, or seeking psychological services at an earlier date. Few studies have addressed this issue, however, the importance of preventing PAS is evident in that all of the participant’s would never want to repeat the experience.

A summary of the findings of the present study is as follows:

(1) Family characteristics, such as number of children, number of marriages, and the alienators number of relocations were weak factors in the occurrence of PAS.
(2) Marital conflicts and their intensity were weak predictors in the occurrence of PAS.
(3) As expected, the relationship between the alienating and lost parents were strained after the onset of PAS.
(4) There was a general decrease in the frequency of visitation for the lost parent which may or may not have been due to PAS.
(5) There was a reduction of other contacts (aside from visitation) between the lost parents and their children that, as expected, limited their relationship.
(6) By the very nature of PAS, all of the participants perceived a general “sabotage” of their relationships with their children by the alienators. The findings confirmed that the alienators used denigrating techniques (e.g., implying that the lost parents were not good people).
(7) The children acted as secondary alienators.
(8) The alienator’s closer family members tended to also alienate.
(9) The participants perceived the underlying cause of the alienation as the hatred toward the lost parents, anger, or revenge, or some combination of these.
(10) The lost parents experienced a loss of parental role and power whether or not they had visitation with their children.
(11) Although the lost parents sought the assistance of both legal and mental health professionals, they remained dissatisfied with these services. Both the legal and mental health professionals have inadequately explored all the parameters implied in PAS.
(12) The participants, provided that they had the knowledge about PAS that they presently have, would have behaved differently towards their ex-spouse.
(13) As expected, the participants perceived the alienating circumstances as exerting serious negative emotional and financial consequences on their lives.
(14) They hoped to be able to be reunited with their children in the future. They would be able to do so by maintaining contact with the children (i.e., by sending letters and cards). These findings illustrate both the complexity and seriousness of PAS. Thus the ability to identify precursors, indicators, and effective interventions for these families is essential.

Limitations of the Study and Recommendations for Additional Research

The research conducted in the present study involved a small sample of participants who described themselves as victims of PAS and consequently, generalizations can only be made cautiously. Although some pre-defined criteria were given as a basis for choosing the participants, additional specific criteria are necessary. For instance, a useful future criterion may be that the participants be identified as PAS subjects by trained professionals. However, due to time limitations, a lack of resources and the difficulty of identifying cases of PAS when there were so few professionals who had any knowledge of PAS, it might be difficult for a researcher to include this criteria. Second, interviews were conducted by telephone due to the great distances involved. Such a means of interview may be prone to overlook or minimize important qualitative data from nonverbal cues. Ideally, with a larger sample size, possibly a random sample, and the inclusion of a comparison group (e.g., families involved in amicable divorces) greater generalizability may be attained in such a study. To date there is very little research specifically on PAS; much that is known remains tentative. Further building on the data base available to researchers to date can provide greater information upon which to base hypotheses for future research.

The importance of a greater wealth of knowledge on PAS is evident by examining the focus placed on problems encountered in custody disputes by the government. The Senate of Canada has debated drafts of legislation Bill-C41, whose principle is to have both spouses share the “financial obligation to maintain the children of the marriage in accordance with their relative abilities” (Chapter 1, article 11-2). As a result, the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons has created a Joint Committee on Custody and Access. The purpose of this committee is to “examine and analyze issues relating to parenting arrangements after separations and divorce” (Senate Debates, October 28, 1997, pp. 253). Senator Anne C. Cools presented a speech to amend certain aspects of the Joint Committee. The amendment passed and has been sent to the House of Commons for their approval. The amendment Senator Anne C. Cools proposed was to have the Joint Committee on Custody and Access examine important issues relating to separation and divorce. Specifically, she noted that issues such as Parental Alienation Syndrome and false allegations of sexual abuse are difficulties that non-custodial parents encounter. As a result the Committee will set out to:

assess the need for a more child-centred approach to family law policies and practices that would emphasize joint parental responsibilities and child-focused parenting arrangements based on children’s needs and best interests; (Senate Debates, p. 257)

The Committee will be examining issues related to custody and access to children after divorce and separation. Mental health professionals will likely be sources of information for this Committee, and Parental Alienation Syndrome will likely be a relevant issue to be examined. Consequently, mental health professionals need to examine PAS further in order to provide both pertinent information to the Committee and more importantly help for the families of PAS.

References

Arditti, J. A. (1992). Factors related to custody, visitation, and child support for divorced fathers: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 17(3-4), 23-42.

BILL-C41, Chapter 1, Statutes of Canada (1997).

Calabrese, R. M., Miller, J. W., and Dooley, B. (1987). The identification of alienated parents and children: Implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 24, 145-150.

Cartwright, G. F. (1993). Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 21(3), 205-215.

Child custody and access reform: Special joint committee established, Senate of Canada, Senate Debates, 1997.

Clawar, S. S., and Rivlin, B. V. (1991). Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago: American Bar Association.

Demo, A. H. and Acock, A. C. (1988). The impact of divorce on children, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 619-648.

Department of Justice Canada (1993). Custody and access: Public discussion. Canada, Ministry of Supply and Services Canada.

Dunne, J., and Hedrick, M. (1994). The parental alienation syndrome: An analysis of sixteen cases. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 21(3/4), 21-38.

Gardner, R. A. (1991). 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. A. (1992). The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Girdner, L. K. (1985). Strategies of conflict: Custody litigation in the United States. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 9(1), 1-15.

Goldwater, A. (1991). Le syndrome d’alienation parentale[in English]. In Developments en droits familial (pp. 121-145) Cowansville, Quebec: Les Edition Yvons Blais.

Hoffman, M. L. (1971). Father absence and conscience development. Developmental Psychology, 4, 400-406.

Johnston, J.R., Gonzalez, R., and Campbell, L.E.G. (1987). Ongoing postdivorce conflict and child disturbance. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 15(4), 493-509.

Kressel, K. (1985). The process of divorce. New York: Basic Books.

Kurdek, L. A. (1981). An integrative perspective on children’s divorce adjustment. American Psychologist, 36(8), 856-866.

Lund, M. (1995). A therapist’s view of parental alienation syndrome. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 33(3), 308-316.

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

Slater, E. J., and Haber, J. D., (1984). Adolescent adjustment following divorce as a function of familial conflict. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52(5), 920-921.

Rand, D.C. (1997). The spectrum of parental alienation syndrome: Part I. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 15(3), 23-52.

Turkat, I.D. (1994). Child visitation interference in divorce. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 737-742.

Woolfolk, A. E. (1998). Educational psychology: Seventh edition (pp. 96). Toronto: Allyn and Bacon.

Yin, R. K. (1984). Case study research, designs and methods. Beverly Hills.

APPENDIX A

LETTERS TO PARTICIPANTS

PARENTAL ALIENATION STUDY

If you or someone you know has experienced Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and are willing to participate in a study, please contact Despina at (514)-840-1159 or via e-mail at dvassi@PO-BOX.Mcgill.Ca.

*PAS is defined as a syndrome where one parent (usually the custodial parent) attempts to alienate the child or children from another parent. It includes a series of conscious and subconscious techniques, such as brainwashing, by the alienating parent, as well as the child or children’s own contributions for denigrating the allegedly hated parent (Cartwright, 1993, Gardner, 1992).

APPENDIX B

CONSENT FORMS

Note: All consent forms will be kept by the researcher (Despina Vassiliou) until the completion and acceptance of her thesis and graduation. After that time, the consent forms will be destroyed.

Consent Form
McGill University Research Project

The Effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome on Individual Family Members

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are presently conducting research that will examine the development of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)* within the family unit. More specifically, we are interested in examining each of the family member’s role in the alienation process. Participants will be asked a series of questions pertaining to the alienating relationships within the family unit. The questions are straightforward and will take approximately one hour to discuss and will be tape recorded. Your responses will be kept completely confidential and anonymous. You are not under any obligation to participate, and you may choose to discontinue the study at any point. If you agree to participate in this research project, please sign the form below.

We greatly appreciate your consideration of this project. We would be delighted to provide more background information and answer any questions you might have. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Despina Vassiliou
MA student, School Psychology
McGill University
514-398-4257

Glenn F. Cartwright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Educational Psychology
McGill University
514-398-4240

I, ________________________, agree to participate in the McGill PAS study.
(Please print your name in full)

Participant’s Signature

Date

APPENDIX C

INTERVIEW QUESTIONNAIRES

Interview Questions

Current Status:
1. Describe to me your current family constellation?
· How many children do you have?
· Are they currently living with you?
· If no, how often do you get to see them if at all?
· Have you remarried?
2. Describe your current relationship with your ex-spouse.

Beginning of the Marital Dissolution:

3. When did the conflicts that lead to the dissolution of your marriage begin?
4. Did you see a common theme or issue in the conflicts?
5. How long did these conflicts before divorce became an option?
6. Who initiated the divorce and on what grounds?

Initiating and Proceedings of the Custody Case(s):
7. Describe the events that lead up to the custody proceedings?
8. How long was each of the legal cases (custody and divorce)?
9. Do you remember an occasion during the custody proceedings that lead to the delay of the case?
If yes,
· What effects did the delay have on the case?
· What effects did the delay have on your children and your relationship with them?

Contributions to P.A.S.:
10. Tell me some factors that contributed to the alienation in your case?
11. Do you believe that you had any role or make any contributions to the alienating situation?
12. What were your children’s role in the alienation? Describe some of their behaviours.
· Describe some of your behaviours or actions that contributed to the alienation?
13. Tell me about the effects of the alienation on your relationship with your children?
14. Describe for me your relationship with your children today?
15. Do you remember an occasion when other individuals contributed to the alienation? (How?)

Cause and Possible Termination of P.A.S.:
16. For how long did the alienation occur (in months)?
17. What do you believe was the underlying cause of the alienation?
18. How do you feel about the alienation now?
19. Has the alienation ceased? In your opinion, why is this so?
If the alienation has ceased:
· How long has it been since you have been removed from the alienated situation?
· Can you tell me about the circumstances that have made it possible for the alienation to have been terminated?
If the alienation has not ceased:
· Do you believe that there is a possibility of a reconciliation?
· If yes, what do you believe would make a reconciliation possible?

Looking Back:
20. When and how did you realize the implications of what was occurring, with regard to the alienation?
21. What do you feel is the impact of this whole experience on your life?
22. Had you or any of your family members sought out services for emotional assistance?
If yes,
· Who? And for what reasons?
· What was the outcome? (Were there any diagnoses made? Were you taking any medication?)
If not,
· How did you or they cope with the situation on your/their own?
23. How do you view the experience now as compared to how you viewed it then (while you were experiencing it)?
24. Has your opinion changed over time? How much time? How did it change?
25. Is there anything else that you would like to change or do over again?

APPENDIX D

SAMPLE PAGE OF TRANSCRIPT

APPENDIX E

CERTIFICATE OF ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/vassil98.htm#CHAPTER%205

How Our Tax Dollars Subsidize Family Breakup

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on May 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm

By Stephen Baskerville
© 2009

Divorce and unwed childbearing cost taxpayers at least $112 billion each year or more than $1 trillion over the last decade. This estimate from the Institute for American Values is, as the authors suggest, likely to be an underestimate.

This staggering but plausible tally of the economic costs of family dissolution follows what we have long known about the social costs. All our major social ills – poverty, violent crime, substance abuse, truancy and more – are more closely linked to family breakdown and single-parent homes than to any other factor. A poor black child from an intact home is more likely to succeed than a rich white one from a single-mother home.

It is hardly surprising that massive financial costs follow from this: Welfare, law enforcement, education, health care – all these budgets are justified by the pathologies generated by single-parent homes. Indeed, family dissolution not only creates costs; by destroying society’s basic economic unit, it also prevents generating the wealth to meet those costs.

This is not to deny that we bear responsibility for all this through our sexually dissolute lifestyle, but the consequences of that lifestyle have already become institutionalized in coercive government policies. Diabolically, the very government programs advertised as addressing these social ills are the ones actually generating them. The result is a government perpetual-growth machine that will continue to expand until we have the courage stand up and unequivocally demand that it stop.

It began with welfare. Programs advertised as relieving families that had lost the father’s wages due to war and economic hardship became a bureaucratic mechanism for driving more fathers from the home. The result was the vast welfare underclass we usually associate with low-income minority communities – the vast breeding grounds of crime, drug abuse, truancy, teen pregnancy, child abuse and other horrors that soak up taxpayer dollars.

But now it is becoming even more serious. Divorce has transformed welfare programs into mechanisms for creating fatherless homes in the middle class. And here the welfare bureaucracies go further: After driving out the fathers, they are seizing family wealth and even incarcerating the fathers.

This criminalization of parents is not isolated. Perhaps the earliest welfare state provision was the public school system, which jealously guards its prerogatives of using children as political pawns. The recent California appeals court decision allowing the criminalization of homeschoolers is only one indication of government’s increasingly aggressive stance toward parents. The federal decision in Fields v. Palmdale, ruling that parents have no right to a voice in their children’s public school education, is another.

But schooling is only one arena. The divorce machinery is even more authoritarian. The divorce apparatus has so many methods of seizing children and family assets and for incarcerating parents that it is a wonder any families remain.

For example, child support enforcement is advertised as a way to recover welfare costs by forcing “deadbeat dads” to support children they “abandon.” In reality, it has become a massive subsidy on middle-class divorce, effectively bribing mothers to divorce with the promise of a tax-free windfall subsidized by taxpayers. It is also a means for incarcerating fathers without trial who cannot pay the extortionate sums. Far from saving money, child support enforcement loses money and – far more serious – subsidizes the divorces and unwed births that generate these additional costs.

Programs ostensibly for “child abuse” and “domestic violence” – problems also originating in single-parent welfare homes – have likewise become tools to create single-parent homes in the middle-class through divorce proceedings. Patently trumped-up accusations of child abuse or domestic violence, presented without any evidence, are used to separate fathers from their children and, likewise, to jail them not through criminal trials but through “civil” divorce proceedings and in new, openly feminist “domestic violence courts.” Thus does family dissolution also undermine our most cherished due process protections.

Further, mothers are not only enticed into divorce with promises of lucrative support payments; they are also coerced into it through threats of losing their children themselves. Mothers are now ordered to divorce their husbands on pain of losing their children through spurious child abuse accusations. Intact middle-class families now live in fear of a visit from the dreaded “child protective services” with the possibility of losing their children.

This machinery cannot be brought under control by marriage therapy programs, as the Institute for American Values advocates. While private church-based and community efforts like Marriage Savers should be encouraged, government psychotherapy merely puts more vested interests on the public payroll. We must demand that our tax dollars stop subsiding family breakup and ills that in turn require ever more tax dollars. By subsidizing the destruction of families, we are subsidizing the progressive impoverishing of our society. Indeed, by subsidizing the criminalization of both fatherless children and fathers, we are paying for the destruction of our freedom.

It is simply not possible to allow the family to unravel without having our civilization do the same. Yet that is precisely what we are doing.

Yet, even this is only the beginning. More alarming still are the political costs. For contrary to the beliefs even of most conservatives, divorce and unwed childbearing are not the products merely of a decadent culture. They are driven by government – the same government that is extracting $112 billion annually from our pockets.

The original article can be found on World Net Daily: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=62594

Parental Rights and Due Process

In Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, HIPAA Law, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

PUBLISHED IN
THE JOURNAL OF LAW AND FAMILY STUDIES
VOLUME 1, NUMBER 2 (1999), pp. 123– 150
UNIVERSITY OF UTAH SCHOOL OF LAW

Donald C. Hubin
Department of Philosophy
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210
614-292-7914
hubin.1@osu.edu

Copyright © 1999 by Donald C. Hubin

ABSTRACT FOR “PARENTAL RIGHTS AND DUE PROCESS”

The U. S. Supreme Court regards parental rights as fundamental. Such a status should subject any legal procedure that directly and substantively interferes with the exercise of parental rights to strict scrutiny. On the contrary, though, despite their status as fundamental constitutional rights, parental rights are routinely suspended or revoked as a result of procedures that fail to meet even minimal standards of procedural and substantive due process. This routine and cavalier deprivation of parental rights takes place in the context of divorce where, during the pendency of litigation, one parent is routinely deprived of significant parental rights without any demonstration that a state interest exists— much less that there is a compelling state interest that cannot be achieved in any less restrictive way. In marked contrast to our current practice, treating parental rights as fundamental rights requires a presumption of joint legal and physical custody upon divorce and during the pendency of divorce litigation. The presumption may be overcome, but only by clear and convincing evidence that such an arrangement is harmful to the children.

Parental Rights and Due Process
DONALD C. HUBIN *

Forget, for a moment, the title of this paper. Imagine that it is titled, “Due Process and the Deprivation of Rights”. Now, consider an unspecified right, R, which is “a fundamental right protected by First, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments“. 1 Suppose that this right is regarded as “far more precious than property rights” 2 and that the Supreme Court characterizes R as an “essential” right 3 that protects a substantial interest that “undeniably warrants deference, and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection“. 4 Imagine that “it cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions” 5 and that, because of this, “there must be some compelling justification for state interference” 6 with R.

These aspects of the nature of R stipulated, imagine further that our legal system actively functions to suspend or deny this right literally tens of thousands of times a year— that this is done openly and under color of state law. Suppose that the suspension, and sometimes even the denial, of R is done on the basis of little or no evidence of any state interest whatsoever. Imagine that, in these cases of suspension or denial, there is no demonstration, and often no allegation, that R has been, or is likely to be, abused or that the retention of R by the individual in question would be harmful to the legitimate interests of any other person. Suppose, further, that even the temporary suspension of this right shifted the burden of proof onto the former right-holder to demonstrate that the suspension should not become a permanent denial.

If there were such a right and it were treated in such a cavalier way, what should our reaction be? Outrage? Indeed!

But is there a right that can be substituted for R and make all of the above suppositions true? Absolutely. But it is neither the right to property (and not simply because it cannot be more precious than itself) nor the right to liberty. Though there are often legal threats to these rights, on the whole they receive significant protection from the courts. There is only one right that has the importance described above and receives so little protection. It is the right of custody of our children— the cluster of rights labeled ‘parental rights’. 7

The above might strike one as flagrant hyperbole. Termination of parental rights is not done in the casual way I have described. 8 The state is required, a critic might point out, to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that a compelling state interest is at stake before termination of parental rights. 9. And so it is, sometimes. But there is a context in which parental rights are suspended with little or absolutely no evidence of the involvement of any state interest whatsoever. That context is divorce. While this context apparently affects our reaction to the casual procedures by which we suspend or terminate parental rights (else one would expect a hue and cry over this practice), it does not weaken the argument against such procedures. Divorce proceedings routinely involve unconscionable violations of minimal due process protections of fundamental rights and liberties. 10

I argue for this thesis below. I begin by discussing some features of parental rights and of the state interest in the custody of children. Next, I examine the sorts of due process considerations that have arisen in the context of termination of parental rights outside the divorce context. I then describe a procedure commonly used during divorce proceedings to determine custody during the period of the divorce litigation (pendente lite). The arrangements during the pendency of the litigation are extremely important because they establish a status quo which influences what it is reasonable to do with respect to parent/ child arrangements in the final divorce decree and, even more importantly, because of the direct effect they appear to have on the long-term parent child relationship. (A full explanation of the reasons for focusing on the procedures for determining temporary custody, as opposed to permanent custody, will be offered later.) In the penultimate section, I argue directly for the thesis that this procedure involves the temporary denial of fundamental rights without due process of law. Finally, I turn from the abstract discussion of the nature and basis of legal rights to discuss the real interests protected by these rights.

The issue of parental rights and due process is not sterile or pedantic; parental rights protect the vital interests of parents and children alike. Our cavalier legal treatment of them is inexcusable for the real human devastation it causes.

To read more, following this link: http://familyrights.us/bin/white_papers-articles/parental_rights_and_due_process.htm

Parental Alienation Syndrome: The Lost Parents’ Perspective – Chapter 2 of 5

In California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

by Despina Vassiliou
Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, McGill University
3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

CHAPTER 2

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

A review of the literature concerning the development of parental alienation in families requires a review of the main theories surrounding the development of PAS. The main postulates include: (a) heightened levels of conflict, (b) divorce, (c) the contributions or influence of the legal system, and (d) a combination of various other factors that may contribute to the development of PAS.

HIGH CONFLICT SITUATIONS

As the dissolution of a marriage proceeds and court proceedings begin regarding the custody of the children, there is likely to be increasing conflict among the divorcing parents. It is believed that this conflict propels and heightens the occurrence of PAS. Family conflict may contribute to many difficulties that the individual family members encounter — such as problems in social development, emotional stability, and cognitive skills. These difficulties may instigate long-term consequences that may persist long after the finalization of the divorce (Kurdek, 1981).

Further, when the conflict occurring in a family (whether divorced or intact) is ongoing and heightened, the individual family members have been found to express feelings of lowered self-esteem, increased anxiety, and diminished self control (Slater & Haber, 1984). Particularly at risk are the children. There are reports that adolescents have a greater risk of developing adjustment problems whether the family goes through divorce or remains intact (Hoffman, 1971). Therefore, the level of family conflict is an important dimension which can alter the family structure and affects children’s well-being (Demo & Acock, 1988).

PAS is a syndrome that is usually associated with a heightened level of conflict. Further, the children in PAS families are present not only in the conflictual situation (in this case the denigration of one parent) but often contribute additional conflict to the situation. These conflicts tend to occur in conjunction with long custody proceedings. Johnston, Gonzalez, and Campbell (1987) examined the behaviour of children from separated and/or divorced families who were subjected to “entrenched” parental conflict regarding their custody. These researchers assessed 56 children between the ages of four and twelve during custody disputes and 2.5 years later.

The assessment consisted of three measures:

(1) parental conflict as measured by the Straus Conflict Tactics Scale;
(2) Clinical rating scales that were completed by each family’s counsellor; and
(3) the Achenbach Child Behaviour Checklist which measured the children’s adjustment on four scales: Depression, Withdrawn/Uncommunicative, Somatic Complaints, and Aggression, as well as overall problem behavior. Johnston and her colleagues (1987) found that at the time of the custody disputes, overall behavior problems and aggression could be predicted by (a) the extent to which children became involved in the custody dispute and (b) the occurrence and extent of role reversal between the child and parent.

Specifically, aggression between parents, both physical and verbal, was found to be a significant predictor of overall behavioural problems two years later. Moreover, involving the child in the custody dispute was a more important predictor of overall behaviour problems when it was the father who involved the child rather than the mother. If both parents involved the child in the disputes, then the child was more likely to have a tendency to display more withdrawn and uncommunicative behaviours two years after the dispute.

Finally, overall behavioural problems and depression were also predicted by the role reversal between father and child. These findings are related to the development of parental alienation in that PAS children who are exposed to heightened levels of conflict in combination with the denigration of one parent by the other.

As a means of coping with the heightened levels of stress, PAS children may copy the alienating parent’s behavior primarily by denigrating the lost parent. In doing so, they reduce some stress by believing that one parent is bad while the other is good. Subsequently, they focus on pleasing the alienating parent who is usually the custodial parent. Therefore, they ensure their survival in the alienating home by supporting the alienating parent’s beliefs. Children who do not adapt in this way may feel they run the risk of also being rejected by the alienating parent and losing that parent’s love.

DIVORCE

The effect of divorce itself on the family can be devastating. What was once decided amongst the parents is now decided by third parties like lawyers and judges (Girdner, 1985). Further, access to the children by each parent changes. Where before everyone lived together and parents and children had the freedom to interact whenever they wished, divorce dictates they must now abide by rules set by others.

The most common effect of divorce is that the child remains primarily with one parent while the other parent becomes a “visitor” who is only allowed to see the child on certain occasions. In theory, this “visitor” is allowed to have parental authority, that is to engage in the decision making process regarding the children (e.g., what school they should attend) (Turkat, 1994).

However, divorce often occurs because the parents can no longer make decisions together. Consequently, the visiting parent does not always have the visitation that he or she should have and may be unable to participate in the decision making process for important issues in their children’s lives. One time significant parents can become unwanted visitors for their children. The Children’s Rights Council in 1994 reported that an estimated six million children in the U.S. were victims of interfered visitation by their custodial parents.

Arditti (1992) found that as high as 50% of fathers (usually the non-custodial parents) reported that their visitation with their children had been interfered with by their ex-wives.

Further, as many as 40% of custodial mothers admitted denying their ex-husbands their right to visitation as a means of punishing them (Kressel, 1985). In PAS families, the interference with child visitation is but one of the symptoms, though the most important. It is believed that the goal of the alienating parent is to not only interfere in the lost parent’s visits, but to eliminate both the visits, and the visiting parent as well from the child’s life.

Gardner (1992) postulated that PAS is of a serious nature that may be provoked by a serious emotional issue, such as custody. Consequently, Cartwright (1993) noted that PAS may also be provoked by other serious and emotional issues such as property divisions or finances.

CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM

According to Gardner (1992), the legal system contributes to the occurrence of PAS. In his book, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals, Gardner devotes two chapters to the history of the legal system and its impact on the occurrence of PAS. He postulates that parental alienation began to occur when courts began replacing the “tender-years” presumption with that of the “best-interests-of-the-child” presumption. The “tender-years” presumption stipulates that certain psychological benefits exist for children who remain with the mother, therefore custody was usually awarded to the mother. In the 1970s the courts began to favour the “best-interests-of-the-child” presumption, a less sexist position. With this presumption, the courts attempted to award custody to the parent who the best custodian for the child regardless of the parent’s gender.

Gardner believes that this change in the legal system exacerbated mothers’ fears that they might lose custody of their children to the fathers. Moreover, for mothers to strengthen their cases they needed to denigrate the fathers, engendering the beginnings of PAS. Gardner supports this notion by reporting that in 90% of his PAS cases, it was the mother who was the alienating parent (Gardner, 1991, conference).

Further changes in the legal system during the 1970s and 1980s, according to Gardner, contributed to the occurrence of PAS. Specific was the adoption in many jurisdictions of the notion of joint custody. Ideally in joint custody, both parents are to contribute equally to the upbringing of the children instead of one parent being the custodian and the other the “visitor”.

For joint custody to be granted it must be established that both parents can communicate with each other and can participate in the upbringing of the child. However, when joint custody is granted, the parents are often placed back in the same situation that led them to seek a divorce initially: the inability to communicate and make decisions together. Although some couples can do so successfully, Gardner notes that this situation presents the opportunity for the children to be used as weapons in parental conflicts that may arise.

Gardner developed several other related notions concerning the development of PAS and the contributions of the legal system are simply a part of this influence on PAS development. Unfortunately, the only statistics that Gardner provided were those that demonstrated that mothers were usually the alienators without detailing the procedure by which he attained these results.

Cartwright (1993) noted that the involvement of lawyers and the prolonged involvement of the court contributes not only to the occurrence of PAS but also to the increase in the severity of PAS. Clawar and Rivlin (1991) conducted a twelve year study regarding the parental programming of children “to influence the outcome of disputes” which was commissioned by the American Bar Association Section of Family Law. They found that 80% of divorcing parents practiced parental programming to varying degrees and 20% of whom did so at least once a day.

Further, Rand (1997) postulated that many allegations of either sexual or physical abuse may be an alienating technique. These allegations are powerful factors in the courts’ decisions for custody and therefore an invaluable tool to the alienators. Cartwright noted that the court requires adequate time to assess each case in order to determine the best interests of the child. However, he cautioned that once identified as a PAS case, then the court needs to make speedy judgments in order to stop the alienation process immediately. Unfortunately, the usual procedure of court postponements and continuances permit the PAS process to continue.

Further, Goldwater (1991) had postulated that the longer the children are in the alienating custodial situation, the “further they will drift away from their non-custodial parent” (p.130). Cartwright also noted that forceful judgment is required to counter the force of alienation. Specifically, clear and forceful judgments are believed to deter possible alienating parents from even beginning the alienation process as they may immediately lose custody of their children.

This is only possible if the judge is aware of PAS as a syndrome and if it has been clearly identified in each case. A second consequence of a clear and forceful judgment against the alienating parent is that such judgements can stop existing alienating processes from continuing.

Support for the notion that the court can counter the occurrence of PAS has been found in a study conducted by Dunne and Hedrick (1994). These researchers are two of the very few who conducted research specifically on PAS. In a qualitative study they interviewed sixteen families who exhibited a specified set of characteristics that met Gardner’s (1992) criteria for PAS.

The findings suggested that various family characteristics, such as the degree of PAS severity, were not indicators of the degree or effect of alienation on the family. Further, they found that the only effective intervention to counter alienation was a court implemented custody change that resulted in the children being removed from the alienating home.

The various types of therapy demonstrated no improvement in any of the families that had undergone therapy; in two of these cases the alienation actually became worse. It appears that the legal system is the most effective mean of terminating the process of alienation, reflecting the strong influence exerted by the legal system on the occurrence of PAS.

Girdner (1985), in an ethnographic study, examined the structure of custody litigation and the strategies used by parents who were contesting the custody of their children. She immersed herself in the legal culture for eighteen months. By observing court proceedings regarding custody she examined the relationships between the legal and the familial processes within the context of those proceedings.

She found that the final custody arrangements were usually made with respect to the economic issues of the divorce. Specifically, her findings suggested that the factors which influenced custody agreements included: (a) the negotiating style of the attorneys involved; (b) the dynamics of bargaining in the legal system; and (c) at which stage of the emotional process of divorce in which the clients were.

COMBINED FACTORS

A number of factors influence the occurrence of PAS. The family unit does not function in isolation. Individual characteristics of family members may also play a role on the occurrence of PAS. A study conducted by Calabrese, Miller, and Dooley (1987) examined the characteristics of 49 parents and their children from two fourth grade classes.

These researchers assessed the parents’ alienation of their children using the Dean Alienation Scale that provides an overall measure of alienation through examining the following dimensions: Isolation, Powerlessness, and Normalesness. They also assessed the children’s school achievement by examining their percentiles, as well as the children’s attitudes toward school.

However, these researchers found that the best predictors of alienation was unrelated to the children’s academic attitudes or performance, but rather to the characteristics of the individuals involved. Specifically, they reported that high levels of alienation were found to be associated with unemployed, single mothers, whose child was female and the child had only a few perceived friends.

While these findings appear to support Gardner’s contention that the alienator is usually the mother, they provide little support for Gardner’s theory that the introduction of the “best-interests-of-the-child” presumption contributed to this phenomenon.

Lund (1995) examined factors that contributed to the development of parental alienation. She assessed families in terms of

(a) developmental factors in the child,
(b) parenting styles, and
(c) level of stress experienced by the child.

She postulated that contributing factors in the occurrence of PAS included the following:

(1) Separation difficulties that are developmentally inappropriate. Specifically, PAS could be related to the occurrence of pre-schooler’s separation problems that may normally occur but are heightened by the stress occurring within a separated home.
(2) The child exhibiting oppositional behaviour. With older children in adolescence and preadolescence the development of oppositional behaviour may be manifested as a rejection of the lost parent in a family with conflicts.
(3) The deterioration of the non-custodial parental skills. The alienated parent usually displays a distant, rigid, and sometimes authoritarian style of parenting, whereas the alienating parent is indulgent and clinging. The children can then more easily reject the harsher parent and defend the more indulgent one.
(4) Conflicts occurring during the divorce. According to Lund (1995), these may prompt the child to seek means of escaping the stress related to such conflict.

Therefore, the child may denigrate the lost parent as a justification of the alienating parent’s actions.

SUMMARY

Relatively few research studies have been conducted specifically on PAS. The literature examined in this section pertained primarily to several articles that described parental alienation, however the majority were not empirical studies. The literature suggests that several factors may contribute to the occurrence of PAS. The heightened levels of conflict that are often associated with the dissolution of a marriage have been shown to have several short- and long-term effects on family members (Demo & Acock, 1988; Hoffman, 1971; Kurdek 1981). Johnston et al., 1987 found that involving the children in the disputes tended to result in the children displaying behavioural problems (e.g., withdrawing and not communicating).

PAS is one area in which heightened levels of conflict are believed to play a large role in the lives of the family members. Therefore, it is postulated that the heightened conflict levels may be an important factor in the occurrence of PAS. Divorce is a difficult time for all family members. With divorce comes a stressful restructuring where one parent, who was once involved in the child’s life, may suddenly become an unwanted visitor (Turkat, 1994).

This is difficult for those involved and there are indicators that these visiting parents (usually the fathers) encounter difficulties with their visits. For instance, Arditi (1992) found that as many as 50% of fathers reported an interference in their visitation rights; similarly, Kressel (1985) found that 40% of mothers admitted to attempting to interfere in the father’s visitation. Some circumstance or factor that occurs in the process of divorce may result in the rejection of one parent by the other.

If this occurs, it is postulated that PAS may follow. The circumstances that lead to the rejection of a parent are as yet to be determined. There may be high levels of conflict or stress involved in the dissolution of the marriage and thus further research is necessary to examine the degree to which these factors are important in the occurrence of PAS.

With the initiation of a divorce, the legal proceedings involved may pertain not only to the divorce but to custody agreements as well. Most of the literature on PAS suggests that various aspects of the legal system have contributed to the occurrence of PAS (Gardner, 1992) and has even heightened the severity of PAS (Cartwright, 1993). Moreover, Dunne and Hedrick (1994) found that the legal system can play an important role in the termination of PAS.

Specifically, a court ordered change in custody was found to be the most effective intervention that resulted in the termination of PAS with time. As Calabrese et al., (1987), and Lund (1995) found, many factors from individual characteristics to stress on the children have been linked to the occurrence of alienation. The number of possible factors that instigate PAS are legion, therefore, there is a need to examine PAS qualitatively to gain better comprehension. A better understanding of how PAS occurs may be helpful in learning how to treat and perhaps prevent PAS.

Parental Alienation Syndrome: The Lost Parents’ Perspective – Chapter 1 of 5

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, DSM-IV, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm

by Despina Vassiliou
Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, McGill University
3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts in Educational Psychology
© 1998, Despina Vassiliou

ABSTRACT

This qualitative study examines alienated parents’ perceptions of their own experience of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The participants were five fathers and one mother. The data were collected via semi-structured, open-ended interview questionnaires.

A qualitative analysis of the data was performed for each participant in an attempt to answer the following questions:
(1) Are there characteristics (e.g., number of children, number of marriages, etc.) common to alienated families?
(2) Are there common themes or issues among the conflicts between couples that contribute to marriage dissolution?
(3) From the lost parent’s perspective, are there commonalities in the underlying causes of the alienation?
(4) Are there common themes in the participants’ experience of the alienation process?
(5) Given the opportunity what are some things that the lost parents perceive they might do differently? The findings are discussed and the limitations of the present study are given.

CHAPTER 1

THE NATURE OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME

Dr. Richard A. Gardner, a forensic and child psychiatrist, has conducted evaluations regarding the custody of children following divorce (Rand, 1997). Through his case work he observed that many divorcing families shared common characteristics which he labeled as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS was defined as a syndrome where one parent (usually the custodial parent) alienates the child or children from the other parent. PAS includes the alienating parent engaging the child in a series of conscious and subconscious techniques like brainwashing in an attempt to denigrate the other parent. Further, the child also contributes to the denigration of the allegedly hated parent (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992). The general pattern of characteristics PAS children display during and after the divorce have been described by Gardner (1992) as follows:

1. Campaign of denigration: PAS children denigrate the “lost” parent completely, particularly in the presence of the alienating parent. The children express a profuse hatred for the lost parent. Initially, the children may denigrate each parent in the presence of the other. Eventually they learn that the denigration of the non-custodial or alienated parent is beneficial within the custodial home (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992). Subsequently, the child rejects the lost parent completely.
2. The children’s unfounded rationalizations: The children base their denigration on rationalizations that are weak or frivolous, e.g. “she snores in her sleep”. Statements such as these are often made with a complete lack of ambivalence by the children. The alienating parent, as well, does not question such statements as the bases for denigration and further uses the children’s statements as evidence of the lost parent’s inadequacy (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
3. Dichotomization of the parents: The alienating parent is perceived by the child as encompassing only positive qualities and as such the children attempt to express themselves as “perfect little photocopies” (Goldwater, 1991 p. 126) of the alienating parent. On the other hand, the lost parent is believed to encompass only negative qualities. This negative attitude is generalized to events that the children and lost parent have shared. Even events that the children once enjoyed are now remembered as being forced, not enjoyed, or never even remembered (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
4. The independent thinker phenomenon: The children present the decision to reject the parent as their own. The alienating parent reinforces this contention by making such statements as “I can’t force her to see her dad, if she does not want to”. Further, the claim that the decision to reject the parent was the child’s own is made suspect by the child’s use of language and phrases that are developmentally inappropriate and indicative of the alienating parent’s influence (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
5. Automatic love of the alienating parent: the children automatically and reflexively support the alienating parent. This automatic love may be a consequence of the belief that the alienating parent is an ideal or perfect person or that the children perceive that parent as weak and in need of support and defending (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
6. Absence of guilt: The children do not express any feelings of guilt about the circumstances surrounding the relationship with the lost parent. There is a lack of gratitude for any gifts, favours, etc.. This lack of guilt cannot be attributed solely to cognitive immaturity but is related to the brainwashing done by the alienating parent (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).
7. Borrowed scenarios: The children use language and expressions that are clearly not their own. The quality with which they express their beliefs appears to be coached and rehearsed, and the only source of the borrowed scenarios appears to be the alienating parent (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992). For instance, a five year old borrows the alienating mother’s words and say “Daddy’s new girlfriend is a whore!” (Cartwright, 1993, p. 207).
8. Generalization of animosity: The lost parent’s extended family is also included in the animosity. These individuals are also perceived as encompassing negative qualities or inappropriate actions since they are associated with the lost parent. For instance, any attempt by the extended family to counter the denigration of the lost parent is viewed by the children as an attack on their beliefs that they must defend (Cartwright, 1993; Gardner, 1992).

Further, Cartwright, 1993 postulated that often allegations of abuse associated with PAS may be virtual. Virtual allegations refer to cases where the abuse is simply suggested in order to cast aspersions the lost parent’s character without the alienating parent having to fabricate real incidents of alleged abuse. For example, in one case, the mother hinted at an allegation of sexual abuse by accusing the father of renting a videotape containing pornography for the child. The mother reported in court that the child was disappointed with the movie because it was “suggestive, erotic, and pornographic”. The movie, a Hollywood comedy starring Chevy Chase, was chosen by the child at a family video store. The judge proceeded to interview the child extensively and, disagreeing with the mother, found that the child was not disappointed in the movie because it was pornographic but rather because it was not funny. Virtual allegations are subtle and, as a result, difficult to prove or disprove. Therefore, Cartwright, 1993 postulates that as lawyers and judges become more aware of PAS and become more skilled at detecting it, the incidence of virtual allegations will increase.

As in most disorders, the severity of PAS can range from mild to severe. As a result, Gardner (1991, conference) has described three levels in the continuum of severity of the syndrome as mild, moderate, and severe. Using these anchor points, Gardner (1992) described the characteristics of the alienating parent and the child.

In a Severe level of PAS, the alienating parent demonstrates paranoid thoughts that may be limited to the lost parent or may generalize to other circumstances. Prior to the divorce, however, the alienating parent may not have demonstrated any paranoia. Another characteristic includes the alienating parent’s obsession with preventing the lost parent from having or exercising any visitation rights. The alienating parent will use any means necessary to ensure this goal. Further, alienating parents project their own negative qualities onto the lost parents, reinforcing their own paranoia and portraying themselves as victims. As a result of this paranoia, alienating parents do not respond with appeals to logic or reason, or even to confrontations with reality. Those who do not support the alienating parents’ beliefs, whether they are mental health professionals, lawyers, etc., are believed either to be against them or to be paid by the lost parent. The children in severe cases of PAS share the alienating parent’s paranoia about the lost parent. They will refuse to visit the lost parent and often demonstrate panic and hostility that renders visits impossible. Further, if visitation does occur, once they are in the lost parent’s home they may run away, become paralyzed with fear, or become destructive to the extent that they must be removed from the home.

The Moderate level of PAS includes alienating parents who exhibit more rage than paranoid tendencies. They are able to make some distinction between a child’s preposterous allegations and those which may have some validity. However, as in severe cases, an alienating parent in a moderate case of PAS will also undertake a campaign of denigration against the lost parent and will tend to prevent the lost parent’s exercise of visitation rights. Prior to the divorce, the moderate alienating parent is more likely to have been a good child rearer. The children of moderate PAS tend to be less persistent with their campaigns of denigration, and are more likely to abandon them in the presence of the lost parents, especially after long periods of time. In this type of case campaigns of denigration by younger children in the presence of their lost parents can only be sustained with the help of older siblings who function as surrogate parents during visitation. The alienated children’s primary motives for maintaining campaigns of denigration are to maintain “healthy” psychological bonds with the alienating parents.

The Mild level of PAS, the parents have generally healthy psychological bonds with their children. They respond to logic and reason in that they recognize that the alienation of the non-custodial parent is not beneficial for the children. Therefore, the alienating parent will be willing to take a conciliatory approach towards the lost parent’s requests. Gardner (1992) also notes that mild cases of PAS require considerablyless therapy than the more severe cases. Further, the children may become healthier when the intervention simply requires the child to remain in the presence of the lost parent over time.

Cartwright (1993) noted that the time that is spent alienating the child may be an indicator of the degree to which the child is alienated; the longer the alienation, the more alienated the child. Further, the excessive alienation may “build up” or increase the risk of mental illness in the child. As a result, the sooner the children are removed from the alienating situation, the healthier it is for the lost parent and the PAS children. It is, therefore, important to gain a better understanding of parental alienation, its development, and its termination, because of the devastating consequences of PAS to the family members who experience it.

Operational Definitions

Alienator or Alienating Parent. The terms “alienator” and “alienating parent” are used to designate the parent who influences the child or children to turn against the other parent.

Lost or Hated or Absent Parent. The lost (and usually non-custodial) parent is the one who is the target of the alienator.

Conflict. This term signifies opposing ideas and beliefs that members of the family experience in the form of arguments that may or may not become violent.

Alienation: This term signifies any actions, whether physical or psychological, that lead to the negative perception of a parent. Specifically, the term alienation refers to tactics utilized in order to induce PAS.

http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/vassil98.htm

Parental Alienation Syndrome And Alignment Of Children

In adoption abuse, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights on May 16, 2009 at 1:00 am

by Philip M. Stahl, Ph.D.
CALIFORNIA PSYCHOLOGIST, March 1999, Vol. 32, No. 3, p 23ff

Prior to 1970, it was rare that parents disputed custody of their children. Beginning in the early 1970’s, parents began litigating over child custody as a result of changes in societal factors and custody laws. With this increase in litigation, Gardner (1987) observed and outlined a concept that he referred to as “Parental Alienation syndrome.” Currently, there is a significant dispute among experts whether parental alienation is a syndrome, as well as the causes and remedies of parental alienation. This brief article will describe some of the dynamics related to the alignment and alienation of children and provide some solutions for these children. For purposes of this article, I am accepting the premise that alienation exists and that the child is caught in a battle between the alienating parent and the alienated parent. There is little research on the effects of alienation on children, either the long-term impact on a child being alienated from a parent. the long-term impact of a change of custody to remedy alienation, or which qualities within the child might help to mitigate against the alienating behaviors of both parents.

What Is Parental Alienation?

While Gardner was the first to coin the phrase “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Wallerstein and Kelly (1980) first wrote about a process which they termed “alignment with one parent.” In their break-through book, Surviving the Breakup, they wrote:

“A very important aspect of the response of the youngsters in this age group (ages nine to twelve) was the dramatic change in the relationship between parents and children. These young people were vulnerable to being swept up into the anger of one parent against the other. They were faithful and valuable battle allies in efforts to hurt the other parent. Not infrequently, they turned on the parent they had (previously) loved and been very close to prior to the marital separation.”

According to Gardner (1992), “The concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome includes much more than brainwashing. It includes not only conscious but subconscious and unconscious factors within the preferred parent that contribute to the parent’s influencing the child’s alienation. Furthermore, [and this is extremely important], it includes factors that arise within the child — independent of the parental contributions — that foster the development of this syndrome.”

He notes that the child becomes obsessed with hatred of the alienated parent. He also suggests that the hatred takes on a life of its own in which the child may justify the alienation as a result of minor altercations experienced in the relationship with the hated parent. Gardner differentiates between three categories of alienation: mild, moderate and severe. He acknowledges that there is a continuum along which these cases actually fall and he believes that fitting them into a single category is not easy. In general, it is the intensity of the reported alienation and the quality of the relationships between the child and each parent that differentiates families between mild, moderate and severe alienation.

Mild Cases Of Parental Alienation

In mild cases, there are subtle attempts at turning the child against the other parent and drawing the child in to the alienated parent’s view of the other parent. This may be both conscious and unconscious and usually the alienating parent is not aware of how this makes the child feel. However, the alienating parent is usually supportive of the child having a relationship with the other parent. For most children, the consequences of mild alienation is minimal and manifests itself with a slight increase in loyalty conflicts or anxiety, but no fundamental change in the child’s own view of the alienated parent.

Moderate Cases Of Parental Alienation

Moderately alienating parents are angry and often vengeful in their behavior toward the alienated parent. Feeling hurt, the alienating parent often expects the child to take sides and be loyal to him/her. Such parents may actively interfere with visitation arrangements, be derogatory of the other parent to the child and actively participate a process designed to limit or interfere with the child’s relationship with the alienated parent. These parents support the concept of a relationship between the child and the alienated parent but will at the same time consciously and unconsciously attempt to sabotage it. In moderate cases, the alienating parent will ignore court orders if he/she can get away with it.

Most of the children in these moderate cases are filled with conflict. They show many of the symptoms, including anxiety, splitting, insecurity, distortion, etc. They often express their own frustrated views about the alienated parent, some of which mirror the allegations made by the alienating parent and some of which are borne from their own relationship with the alienating parent. They tend to view the alienating parent as “the good parent and the alienated parent as “the bad parent.” Yet, they are able to integrate and discuss some good traits about the hated parent and some negative traits about the preferred parent. These children can enjoy a limited relationship with the alienated parent.

Severe Cases Of Parental Alienation

In severely alienated families, there is a clear, consistent derogation of the alienated parent by the alienating parent and by the child which includes programming, brainwashing and hostility. These behaviors and feelings begin with the alienating parent and are taken on by the child. In most instances, the child and alienated parent had previously had a positive and relatively healthy relationship, although the alienating parent can neither admit nor perceive this. Often, the alienating parent feels a tremendous bitterness and anger at the other parent, usually related to feelings of abandonment and betrayal. These families are quite intractable and may be difficult to evaluate when there are simultaneous abuse allegations. The alienated parent is outraged at the change in the child and generally blames the other parent.

Behavioral Manifestations In Parents And Children

The Alienating Parent

Most alienating behavior will fall into categories that include one or more of the following.

1. Unbalanced accounts of behaviors – Talking in extremes and absolutes
2. Merging of feelings between alienating parent and children, e.g. “We do not like the Tuesday night dinner visit”
3. Denial of the relationship between the child and the alienated parent, as if he/she has no right to it any more
4. Behaviors which directly and/or indirectly thwart the relationship between the child and the other parent
5. Intrusive behaviors such as frequent phone calls (e.g. 2 – 3 times per day or more) into the other parent’s home during visits
6. Encouraging the children to act as spies during visits
7. Informing children about adult issues, such as child support, reasons for the divorce, etc.
8. Forcing the children to be messengers of communications
9. Derogatory and blaming statements about the other parent
10. Tribal warfare in which other family members or family friends get brought into the battle between the parents

It is critical to understand the rationale for those behaviors and what causes them. It could be that the alienating behaviors are the direct result of either actual or perceived shortcomings in the alienated parent. This will affect the recommendations. For example, if real problems in the alienated parent are found, recommendations to correct these problems will be made to the alienated parent. However, if the alienating parent is acting on the basis of perceived problems, it will be important to recommend interventions that encourage the alienating parent to alter his/her perceptions and recognize the many ways that the alienation is negatively affecting the children.

The Alienated Parent

For the alienated parent, there is a potentially different set of dynamics to explore. Alienated parents tend to fall into two groups. There is a group of parents who previously had a healthy relationship with the child prior to the separation, but who is now being shutout of the child’s life. These parents are truly being alienated from the child by the behavior of the alienating parent. The second group of alienated parents are those who claim that alienation is the significant source of the problems with their children, but who tend to be fairly defensive, avoidant of relationships, externalize blame and have a very difficult time seeing his/her own role in problems with the children. Such parents are often very controlling and powerful and are used to having things their own way in their relationships. After separation, they expect their relationship with the children to be as they want it to be. These parents are often less child centered and have less empathy than others. When the relationship does not work out the way they want, they are quick to blame the other parent for alienating the children and for creating problems with their children.

Alienated Parents Who Previously Had A Healthy Relationship With Their Child

Parents in this category seem to be truly alienated against. They may be insightful, able to reflect on a wide variety of possibilities for their children’s behavior and are willing to look to themselves as a source of some problems. Typically, these parents have had a history in which they were close to their children and actively participated in their children’s lives and activities. These parents can have a nurturing quality, though there may be a tendency toward some passivity and difficulty dealing with overwhelming emotions. These dynamics provide a fertile atmosphere for the alienation to flourish.

In these families, the alienating parent is typically extreme and emotionally over-reactive and the alienated parent is usually more passive, nurturing and sensitive. The alienated parent is often overwhelmed and does not know what to do when faced with the alienating parent’s behaviors. Rather than confront the alienating parent or reality to the child, these alienated parents have a tendency to detach. This detachment reinforces the alienating parent’s vengeful behaviors. These parents may exhibit sensitivity to the children, nurturing behavior, passivity, insight and a tendency to be overwhelmed with intense emotions.

Alienated Parents Who Previously Had A Poor Relationship With Their Child

Many of these parents have had very little to do with their children prior to the separation and divorce. They may have been workaholics who came home late at night. They may have been fairly self-centered individuals who were more involved in their own activities than the activities of their children. Many of these parents may be quickly involved in a new relationship and are insensitive to the feelings of their children about this new relationship. Rather than recognize that their children may have their own feelings about their new partner. they are quick to blame the other parent for the children’s feelings. Blame is common for these parents.

In exploring the history of the relationship between these parents and their children, we often find that there is a general absence of a quality relationship in the formative years of development. There is a superficiality to the relationship caused by years of neglect or a history in which the other parent was truly the “primary parent’ in the marital relationship. These parents may show up for the “Kodak moments,” but do so in more self-centered way. often for their own enjoyment and interest rather than to participate with their children. These parents may report active involvement in activities such as coaching the children’s sports. yet, upon further exploration. the child often felt pushed into these activities and distant from their parent-coach. Often these parents are not even that interested in the child after the divorce. They claim alienation primarily as a way of continuing the control and blame that they exhibited during the marriage. For these parents who are claiming alienation, but are more likely to be the cause of the rift with their children, we look for indicators like defensiveness, control, externalization of blame, self-centeredness and superficiality.

The Children

The relationships between parent and child are fragile in these families, even if they were positive prior to the separation. When children are brought into the tug of war between the parents, they have a diminished ability to maintain healthy boundaries and relationships. Ultimately, this dynamic causes the alienating parent to reject anyone who perceives things in a way that the alienating parent does not like. In most instances, the family is so heavily invested in the alienating efforts that the root causes may be difficult to understand.

The effect of this alienation is dramatic on children. They suggest that children are most susceptible to alienation when they are passive and dependent and feel a strong need to psychologically care for the alienating parent. In both the child and alienating parent, there is a sense of moral outrage at the alienated parent and there is typically a fusion of feelings between the alienating parent and child such that they talk about the alienated parents as having hurt “us.” The general view is that children in such families are likely to develop a variety of pathological symptoms. These include, but are not limited to:

1. splittings in their relationships
2. difficulties in forming intimate relationships
3. a lack of ability to tolerate anger or hostility with other relationships
4. psychosomatic symptoms, sleep or eating disorders
5. psychological vulnerability and dependency
6. conflicts with authority figures
7. an unhealthy sense of entitlement for one’s rage that leads to social alienation in general

Some children tell very moving stories of how they have not liked or have been fearful of the alienated parent for a long time. They can give specific details of abuse, angry behavior. etc. prior to separation. These children often feel relieved when their parents divorce because they are now free of those problems. The differential understanding will come from the child’s clear account of inappropriate behavior, detachment in the relationship and a convincing sense of real problems (as opposed to the moral indignation of the alienated child).

When we listen to these children in those cases where the child is detached from the alienated parent. there is little evidence that these children are put in the middle by the alienating parent. Rather, there is a sadness to these children who wish (or may have wished in the past) for a different quality to the relationship with the alienated parent. For many of these children, they have observed significant spousal abuse during the marriage or have observed one parent being controlling and hostile to the other parent. It is the sadness and ambivalence about the lack of a relationship that is one of the key differential indicators that these children, while certainly aligned with one parent, are not being alienated.

Other Reasons For Alignment With One Parent

There are two other dynamics that are important to look for in these children. First, many children seem to be aligned with one parent primarily because of shared interests or a goodness of fit in the personality dynamics with one parent. There is a natural affinity between an active, sports-oriented child and his/her active, sports-oriented parent. Other children may have a stronger affinity with the parent who has effectively been the primary and a concomitant need to be with that parent. These dynamics have nothing to do with alienation but are related to the quality of the child’s relationships with each parent. Unlike the alienated children, however, these children want to spend time with the other parent. though on a more limited basis. The evaluator will note that the child’s reasoning is related to these interests or the quality of the relationship rather than imagined problems in the relationship with the alienated parent.

Second, conflict takes an emotional toll on children. As the level of conflict between parents increases and as children are caught in the middle of these conflicts, the child’s level of anxiety and vulnerability increases. For many of these children, an alignment with a parent helps take them out of the middle and reduces their anxiety and vulnerability. When pressed, these children will prefer a relationship with both parents and show no real history of any significant problems with either parent. By making a choice to be primarily with one parent, these children are making a statement that they need to be free of the conflict. For some, it may not even matter of which parent they live with, as long as they are removed from the conflict.

In fact, when the child’s anxiety is driving the split, the intensity and severity of the child’s feelings may be greater than the intensity of the alienating parent’s behaviors. Unlike children who are alienated primarily because of the alienating parent. or children who are aligned because of a rift in the relationship with the alienated parent. these anxious and vulnerable children are experiencing alignment as a direct result of the conflict and behaviors of both parents.

Recommendations For These Families

Within those families labeled moderate to severe, there is wide disagreement about possible solutions. Gardner touched off this debate by suggesting that the best solution is a change of custody from the alienating parent to the alienated parent, with an initial cut-off of all contact between the alienating parent and child. In a variety of court cases in which there were allegations of sexual abuse, he has testified that the sexual abuse allegation was a form of parental alienation and that a change of custody was clearly in order. Turkat supported Gardner’s position and recommended this change of custody in cases of severe parental alienation.

Gardner’s remedy has led to a number of articles written by attorneys (Isman [1996]. Mauzerall, Young, and Alsaker-Burke [1997] and Wood [1994]) who dispute Gardner’s view. They perceive his recommendation as extreme and dangerous. They question the existence of Parental Alienation Syndrome, suggesting that it does not meet any objective standard in the mental health community. They believe that changing custody on the basis of a syndrome that does not exist is potentially damaging to children.

Others (Ward and Campbell [1993], Johnston [1993]. Johnston and Roseby [1997], Waldron and Joanis [1996], Kelly [1997] and Garrity and Baris [1994]) prefer a more cautious approach to these severely alienated families. They feel that caution is indicated in order to balance the risk of harm to the child from being cut off from one parent (i.e. the alienated parent) or harm as a result of cutting the child off from the other parent (i.e. the alienating parent). One solution does not fit all families because children and their parents are quite different.

Cautious recommendations are likely to include many of the following:

1. A court order that recognizes the value of on-going contact between the child and the alienated parent and establishes structure around that contact
2. A mental health professional working with the child and/or family to therapeutically support the contact
3. The use of a case manager, Special Master, guardian ad litem, or parenting coordinator who would monitor the cooperation with the order and have the authority to enforce compliance or report to the court quickly when one parent is out of compliance
4. Avoid changing custody as a corrective tool; there may be times when a change of custody is indicated, but it will be because there is a different problem than alienation
5. Attempt to engage the alienating parent in therapy that is understanding and supportive while simultaneously providing a clear and consistent message that the alienation process is harmful to the child. If the alienating parent is currently in therapy with someone who supports the position of the alienating parent (i.e. contact between the child and the alienated parent should be nonexistent), it may be necessary for the court to order a change of therapists for the alienating parent unless that therapist can understand the dynamics and become part of the treatment team
6. In the most extreme examples, in which nothing seems to be working and the child appears to be at significant risk, it may be necessary to help the alienated parent therapeutically disengage from the child until such time that the child can more adequately re-establish the relationship. From the perspective of the child, this may actually be a less-damaging recommendation than a change of custody

If we understand that alienation is caused by splitting within the family. it is critical that those who try to work with the family (the attorneys, the judges and the mental health professionals) are in agreement in their approach to the family. If we recognize that alienated family systems are emotionally powerful. it is easy to see how the professionals involved can become split amongst themselves. In more extremely alienated families, the case manager will watch that the professionals do not succumb to the family’s splitting, inadvertently escalating the split.

Parentectomies: Do They Help?

As indicated earlier, perhaps the most controversial element of all the alienation literature has been stimulated by Dr. Gardner’s recommendation for a swift change of custody in those families identified as exhibiting severe parental alienation. There may also be a severe limitation on the child’s contact with the alienating parent, at least for the first few months after the change of custody. While there are certainly times when an evaluator might recommend a change of custody from one parent to the other, doing so solely on the basis of a finding of severe parental alienation may not be in the child’s best interest. When a child has a strong attachment, even if it is an unhealthy one, to the alienating parent, it can be emotionally damaging to the child if the relationship is abruptly terminated.

It is important to remember that children in these families are often in an enmeshed relationship with the alienating parent and often feel a strong need to protect that parent. They may be in a hostile-dependent relationship with the alienating parent. An abrupt change in custody may cause significant problems for the child. We must be careful that the proposed solution to alienation does not cause more problems for the child than did the alienation. I have never seen a change of custody by itself lead to a reduction in conflict and improvement in the situation for the child. While it may temporarily help the relationship between the child and the alienated parent, it often comes at an exorbitant price for the child.

Even with case manager and therapeutic support, many of these children continue to long for a relationship with the alienating parent. Sometimes these dynamics will resurface several years later. Rather than a complete change of custody, I believe that a more balanced time-share in which the child has time to be with each parent for a relatively equal period of time in larger chunks (such as two-week blocks or most of the summer) may be more beneficial to the child. Even when this is difficult to achieve, I would always consider the impact to the child of the change of custody and whether this solution will be worse than the alienation that is occurring.

For some families, it will be impossible to help the alienated parent ever have a viable relationship with the child, in spite of the best therapeutic and structural efforts. Some courts are taking to punishing children, placing them in juvenile halls and psychiatric hospitals because they do not see a parent. I do not agree with this approach. I believe that these children should be in therapy, with part of the therapeutic work centered on the alienated parent withdrawing from the child’s life. It is important to do this carefully so that the child does not feel abandoned by the alienated parent. The alienated parent needs to be taught to say the following to the child (in his/her own words, but with the overall intent completely clear):

“I know how hard it is for you when you feel pain. I know that you and I do not see things the same way and maybe we never will. I am sorry for whatever I have done to cause you to feel pain and I know that our divorce has been terrible for you. I love you and do not want you to be in the middle of the war between your (mom/dad) and me. I know it is terrible for you and rather than have you continue to experience that pain, I am going to withdraw for a while.”

“I want you to remember three things. First, I do love you and want what is best for you. Second, I will always be there for you if you need anything. Third, if you ever change your mind and want to rebuild our relationship, nothing could make me happier. I am only withdrawing for now to help you feel less pain and take you out of the middle of our war. I will keep in contact with you every few months or so. I will keep sending you birthday and Christmas cards. I hope you get them and I hope you will write back. I will always make sure you know where I am and how to reach me if I move. More than anything, I want you to have peace in your life and some day, I hope I can be a part of it. I love you and I always will.”

While this is a painful thing for an alienated parent to do, sometimes it is the only viable solution for an intractable situation. I would certainly encourage such a child to remain in therapy, at least periodically, to explore how the situation is working out. I would also encourage the parent to continue sending the cards, inviting a reunification with the child. At the present time, there is no research on these children and families to know if this actually helps but anecdotal evidence for some children suggests that it might.

This article and articles published in the December issue of this publication by Drs. Schuman and Stahl were condensed from Chapter 1 in Complex Issues in Child Custody Evaluations by Philip M. Stahl, Ph.D., (Copyright Sage, Forthcoming)

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/stahl99.htm

A Sister’s Love – –

In children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights, state crimes on May 15, 2009 at 5:34 pm

27 March, 2009 (04:06) | Reflections | By: chrissy

Yesterday was my brothers birthday. This is a letter of love to my brother, Carlo DiFebbo Jr. I have missed time with you in the later years and I want you to know that I wish you the best. It breaks my heart not to be there with you on your special day. I long to say I love you or even Happy Birthday and chuckle. Today is your day and a day to celebrate your life. I have held on to the day where I can give you a hug. Someday I say all the time but when is that day. I miss you and Anthony and I know it is hard to be in the postion you are in. As the day passed on you where on my mind and what you would be doing on the day of your birth. You are no longer a boy but a man with a family of your own. Today your older sister wishes you a birthday filled with love, peace, and happiness. I wish I could be with you but I have learned I have to love you from a distance. That love for you and Anthony never goes away nor is it reduced because you are not physically present. I’m always here for you and never will I quit thinking one day we will sit around and laugh as siblings do. I love you CJ and I want to say Happy Birthday even if it’s in a blog. I love you and forever will know the bond we shared!

http://parentalalienationhurts.com

Parental Alienation:

…is any behavior by a parent, a child’s mother or father, whether conscious or unconscious, that could create alienation in the relationship between a child and the other parent. Parental alienation can be mild and temporary or extreme and ongoing. Most researchers believe that any alienation of a child against (the child’s) other parent is harmful to the child and to the target parent. Extreme, obsessive, and ongoing parental alienation can cause terrible psychological damage to children extending well into adulthood. Parental Alienation focuses on the alienating parents behavior as opposed to the alienated parent’s and alienated children’s conditions.

Children and Parents Rights – States to feds: Stay in D.C.!

In California Parental Rights Amendment, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, state crimes on May 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm

$11 trillion ‘micromanaging’ price sparks explosion in sovereignty movement

Posted: May 12, 2009
8:59 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

A movement to reclaim for states all rights not specifically designated to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution is exploding across the nation, with 35 states already acting or at least considering such proposals – and one state lawmaker estimating the nation as a whole could save $11 trillion in coming years if it would succeed.

WND reported not long ago when the number of states with lawmakers considering such sovereignty efforts reached 20.

Now, according to the Tenth Amendment Center, such provisions have been launched in at least 35 states. They all address the Tenth Amendment that says: “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

South Carolina’s S. 424 is an example. It is titled: “To affirm South Carolina’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over all powers not enumerated and granted to the federal government by the United States Constitution.”

Essentially it’s a reminder that the United States is made up of individual states; it’s not a federal authority broken up into political subdivisions.

In South Carolina, the proposals remains pending in the state Senate, where Sen. Lee Bright said he still hopes that it will be adopted this year.

The proposal there notes specifically that the “federal government was created by the states … to be an agent of the states,” and the states currently “are treated as agents of the federal government,” many times in violation of the Constitution.

The resolution states:

Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring: That the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution, claims for the State of South Carolina sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the United States Constitution.

Be it further resolved that all federal governmental agencies, quasi-governmental agencies, and their agents and employees operating within the geographic boundaries of the State of South Carolina, and all federal governmental agencies and their agents and employees, whose actions have effect on the inhabitants or lands or waters of the State of South Carolina, shall operate within the confines of the original intent of the Constitution of the United States and abide by the provisions of the Constitution of South Carolina, the South Carolina statutes, or the common law as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

Bright told WND the movement is spreading from state to state as fast as lawmakers discover it.

Michael Boldin, a spokesman for the Tenth Amendment Center, said his organization has created a posting for all such proposals to be tracked.

Among the states where such proposals at least have been considered are Louisiana, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, West Virginia, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Nevada, Oregon, Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Mexico, South Dakota, Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Minnesota, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Texas, New Hampshire, Missouri, Iowa, Montana, Michigan, Arizona, Washington and Oklahoma.

In North Dakota, it passed the House and Senate both in April, with the House a short time later adopting changes made by the Senate.

In South Dakota, it was approved by both houses of the Legislature and under that state’s rules does not need the governor’s signature.

Just last week, Rep. M.J. “Manny” Steele, a Republican in South Dakota, wrote that he believes up to $11 trillion is being wasted in the coming years by Washington’s efforts “to duplicate and micromanage our states’ affairs.”

He said states should manage their own affairs and not be dependant on a federal cash cow to make ends meet. Likewise with industries, he said, citing federal cash dumps on the banking, insurance and automobile industries.

After all, he agreed, with enough federal money allocated to the industry, Americans all still could be listening to 8-track tapes in their cars, but would that really be the best outcome?

Steele told WND his dollar estimate was based on what President Obama himself has allocated in the coming years to spend on stimulus packages, industry bailouts and the like.

“If we would just let the market take care of these things,” he said.

His letter noted that Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina legislatures joined South Dakota’s in passing some statement on the Tenth Amendment this year. The results vary based on state procedures, however. In Oklahoma, the governor vetoed the plan and it was launched on its second trip through the legislature.

“Over the course of decades, there have been increasing federal mandates and acts designed to effectively step in and legislate the affairs of our various states from Washington D.C.,” Steele said. “Federal usurpation into state affairs severely limits the ability of state governments to operate according to their citizens’ wishes.”

The Wholesale Sedation of America’s Youth – Parents Lose Rights

In children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Divorce, family court, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, mothers rights, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parentectomy, Parents rights on May 10, 2009 at 1:00 am

By Andrew M. Weiss, Skeptical Inquirer. Posted May 5, 2009.

Eight million kids today have been diagnosed with mental disorders, and most receive some form of medication. Is this child abuse?

In the winter of 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a study indicating that 200,000 two- to four-year-olds had been prescribed Ritalin for an “attention disorder” from 1991 to 1995. Judging by the response, the image of hundreds of thousands of mothers grinding up stimulants to put into the sippy cups of their preschoolers was apparently not a pretty one.

Most national magazines and newspapers covered the story; some even expressed dismay or outrage at this exacerbation of what already seemed like a juggernaut of hyper-medicalizing childhood. The public reaction, however, was tame; the medical community, after a moment’s pause, continued unfazed. Today, the total toddler count is well past one million, and influential psychiatrists have insisted that mental health prescriptions are appropriate for children as young as twelve months. For the pharmaceutical companies, this is progress.

In 1995, 2,357,833 children were diagnosed with ADHD (Woodwell 1997) — twice the number diagnosed in 1990. By 1999, 3.4 percent of all American children had received a stimulant prescription for an attention disorder. Today, that number is closer to ten percent. Stimulants aren’t the only drugs being given out like candy to our children. A variety of other psychotropics like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sedatives are finding their way into babies’ medicine cabinets in large numbers. In fact, the worldwide market for these drugs is growing at a rate of ten percent a year, $20.7 billion in sales of antipsychotics alone (for 2007, IMSHealth 2008).

While the sheer volume of psychotropics being prescribed for children might, in and of itself, produce alarm, there has not been a substantial backlash against drug use in large part because of the widespread perception that “medically authorized” drugs must be safe. Yet, there is considerable evidence that psychoactive drugs do not take second place to other controlled pharmaceuticals in carrying grave and substantial risks. All classes of psychoactive drugs are associated with patient deaths, and each produces serious side effects, some of which are life-threatening.

In 2005, researchers analyzed data from 250,000 patients in the Netherlands and concluded that “we can be reasonably sure that antipsychotics are associated in something like a threefold increase in sudden cardiac death, and perhaps that older antipsychotics may be worse” (Straus et al. 2004). In 2007, the FDA chose to beef up its black box warning (reserved for substances that represent the most serious danger to the public) against antidepressants concluding, “the trend across age groups toward an association between antidepressants and suicidality . . . was convincing, particularly when superimposed on earlier analyses of data on adolescents from randomized, controlled trials” (Friedman and Leon 2007). Antidepressants have been banned for use with children in the UK since 2003. According to a confidential FDA report, prolonged administration of amphetamines (the standard treatment for ADD and ADHD) “may lead to drug dependence and must be avoided.” They further reported that “misuse of amphetamine may cause sudden death and serious cardiovascular adverse events” (Food and Drug Administration 2005). The risk of fatal toxicity from lithium carbonate, a not uncommon treatment for bipolar disorder, has been well documented since the 1950s. Incidents of fatal seizures from sedative-hypnotics, especially when mixed with alcohol, have been recorded since the 1920s.

Psychotropics carry nonfatal risks as well. Physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms are associated with virtually all psychoactive drugs. Psychological addiction is axiomatic. Concomitant side effects range from unpleasant to devastating, including: insulin resistance, narcolepsy, tardive dyskenisia (a movement disorder affecting 15–20 percent of antipsychotic patients where there are uncontrolled facial movements and sometimes jerking or twisting movements of other body parts), agranulocytosis (a reduction in white blood cells, which is life threatening), accelerated appetite, vomiting, allergic reactions, uncontrolled blinking, slurred speech, diabetes, balance irregularities, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, sleep disorders, fever, and severe headaches. The attempt to control these side effects has resulted in many children taking as many as eight additional drugs every day, but in many cases, this has only compounded the problem. Each “helper” drug produces unwanted side effects of its own.

The child drug market has also spawned a vigorous black market in high schools and colleges, particularly for stimulants. Students have learned to fake the symptoms of ADD in order to obtain amphetamine prescriptions that are subsequently sold to fellow students. Such “shopping” for prescription drugs has even spawned a new verb. The practice is commonly called “pharming.” A 2005 report from the Partnership for a Drug Free America, based on a survey of more than 7,300 teenagers, found one in ten teenagers, or 2.3 million young people, had tried prescription stimulants without a doctor’s order, and 29 percent of those surveyed said they had close friends who have abused prescription stimulants.

n a larger sense, the whole undertaking has had the disturbing effect of making drug use an accepted part of childhood. Few cultures anywhere on earth and anytime in the past have been so willing to provide stimulants and sedative-hypnotics to their offspring, especially at such tender ages. An entire generation of young people has been brought up to believe that drug-seeking behavior is both rational and respectable and that most psychological problems have a pharmacological solution. With the ubiquity of psychotropics, children now have the means, opportunity, example, and encouragement to develop a lifelong habit of self-medicating.

Common population estimates include at least eight million children, ages two to eighteen, receiving prescriptions for ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, autism, simple depression, schizophrenia, and the dozens of other disorders now included in psychiatric classification manuals. Yet sixty years ago, it was virtually impossible for a child to be considered mentally ill. The first diagnostic manual published by American psychiatrists in 1952, DSM-I, included among its 106 diagnoses only one for a child: Adjustment Reaction of Childhood/Adolescence. The other 105 diagnoses were specifically for adults. The number of children actually diagnosed with a mental disorder in the early 1950s would hardly move today’s needle. There were, at most, 7,500 children in various settings who were believed to be mentally ill at that time, and most of these had explicit neurological symptoms.

Of course, if there really are one thousand times as many kids with authentic mental disorders now as there were fifty years ago, then the explosion in drug prescriptions in the years since only indicates an appropriate medical response to a newly recognized pandemic, but there are other possible explanations for this meteoric rise. The last fifty years has seen significant social changes, many with a profound effect on children. Burgeoning birth rates, the decline of the extended family, widespread divorce, changing sexual and social mores, households with two working parents — it is fair to say that the whole fabric of life took on new dimensions in the last half century. The legal drug culture, too, became an omnipresent adjunct to daily existence. Stimulants, analgesics, sedatives, decongestants, penicillins, statins, diuretics, antibiotics, and a host of others soon found their way into every bathroom cabinet, while children became frequent visitors to the family physician for drugs and vaccines that we now believe are vital to our health and happiness. There is also the looming motive of money. The New York Times reported in 2005 that physicians who had received substantial payments from pharmaceutical companies were five times more likely to prescribe a drug regimen to a child than those who had refused such payments.

So other factors may well have contributed to the upsurge in psychiatric diagnoses over the past fifty years. But even if the increase reflects an authentic epidemic of mental health problems in our children, it is not certain that medication has ever been the right way to handle it. The medical “disease” model is one approach to understanding these behaviors, but there are others, including a hastily discarded psychodynamic model that had a good record of effective symptom relief. Alternative, less invasive treatments, too, like nutritional treatments, early intervention, and teacher and parent training programs were found to be at least as effective as medication in long-term reduction of a variety of symptoms (of ADHD, The MTA Cooperative Group 1999).

Nevertheless, the medical-pharmaceutical alliance has largely shrugged off other approaches and scoffed at the potential for conflicts of interest and continues to medicate children in ever-increasing numbers. With the proportion of diagnosed kids growing every month, it may be time to take another look at the practice and soberly reflect on whether we want to continue down this path. In that spirit, it is not unreasonable to ask whether this exponential expansion in medicating children has another explanation altogether. What if children are the same as they always were? After all, virtually every symptom now thought of as diagnostic was once an aspect of temperament or character. We may not have liked it when a child was sluggish, hyperactive, moody, fragile, or pestering, but we didn’t ask his parents to medicate him with powerful chemicals either. What if there is no such thing as mental illness in children (except the small, chronic, often neurological minority we once recognized)? What if it is only our perception of childhood that has changed? To answer this, we must look at our history and at our nature.

The human inclination to use psychoactive substances predates civilization. Alcohol has been found in late Stone Age jugs; beer may have been fermented before the invention of bread. Nicotine metabolites have been found in ancient human remains and in pipes in the Near East and Africa. Knowledge of Hul Gil, the “joy plant,” was passed from the Sumerians, in the fifth millennium b.c.e., to the Assyrians, then in serial order to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Indians, then to the Portuguese who would introduce it to the Chinese, who grew it and traded it back to the Europeans. Hul Gil was the Sumerian name for the opium poppy. Before the Middle Ages, economies were established around opium, and wars were fought to protect avenues of supply.

With the modern science of chemistry in the nineteenth century, new synthetic substances were developed that shared many of the same desirable qualities as the more traditional sedatives and stimulants. The first modern drugs were barbiturates — a class of 2,500 sedative/hypnotics that were first synthesized in 1864. Barbiturates became very popular in the U.S. for depression and insomnia, especially after the temperance movement resulted in draconian anti-drug legislation (most notoriously Prohibition) just after World War I. But variety was limited and fears of death by convulsion and the Winthrop drug-scare kept barbiturates from more general distribution.

Stimulants, typically caffeine and nicotine, were already ubiquitous in the first half of the twentieth century, but more potent varieties would have to wait until amphetamines came into widespread use in the 1930s. Amphetamines were not widely known until the 1920s and 1930s when they were first used to treat asthma, hay fever, and the common cold. In 1932, the Benzedrine Inhaler was introduced to the market and was a huge over-the-counter success. With the introduction of Dexedrine in the form of small, cheap pills, amphetamines were prescribed for depression, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, motion sickness, night-blindness, obesity, narcolepsy, impotence, apathy, and, of course, hyperactivity in children.

Amphetamines came into still wider use during World War II, when they were given out freely to GIs for fatigue. When the GIs returned home, they brought their appetite for stimulants to their family physicians. By 1962, Americans were ingesting the equivalent of forty-three ten-milligram doses of amphetamine per person annually (according to FDA manufacturer surveys).

Still, in the 1950s, the family physician’s involvement in furnishing psychoactive medications for the treatment of primarily psychological complaints was largely sub rosa. It became far more widespread and notorious in the 1960s. There were two reasons for this. First, a new, safer class of sedative hypnotics, the benzodiazepines, including Librium and Valium, were an instant sensation, especially among housewives who called them “mothers’ helpers.” Second, amphetamines had finally been approved for use with children (their use up to that point had been “off-label,” meaning that they were prescribed despite the lack of FDA authorization).

Pharmaceutical companies, coincidentally, became more aggressive in marketing their products with the tremendous success of amphetamines. Valium was marketed directly to physicians and indirectly through a public relations campaign that implied that benzodiazepines offered sedative/hypnotic benefits without the risk of addiction or death from drug interactions or suicide. Within fifteen years of its introduction, 2.3 billion Valium pills were being sold annually in the U.S. (Sample 2005).

So, family physicians became society’s instruments: the suppliers of choice for legal mood-altering drugs. But medical practitioners required scientific authority to protect their reputations, and the public required a justification for its drug-seeking behavior. The pharmaceutical companies were quick to offer a pseudoscientific conjecture that satisfied both. They argued that neurochemical transmitters, only recently identified, were in fact the long sought after mediators of mood and activity. Psychological complaints, consequently, were a function of an imbalance of these neural chemicals that could be corrected with stimulants and sedatives (and later antidepressants and antipsychotics). While the assertion was pure fantasy without a shred of evidence, so little was known about the brain’s true actions that the artifice was tamely accepted. This would later prove devastating when children became the targets of pharmaceutical expansion.

With Ritalin’s FDA approval for the treatment of hyperactivity in children, the same marketing techniques that had been so successful with other drugs were applied to the new amphetamine. Pharmaceutical companies had a vested interest in the increase in sales; they spared no expense in convincing physicians to prescribe them. Cash payments, stock options, paid junkets, no-work consultancies, and other inducements encouraged physicians to relax their natural caution about medicating children. Parents also were targeted. For example, CIBA, the maker of Ritalin, made large direct payments to parents’ support groups like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) (The Merrow Report 1995). To increase the acceptance of stimulants, drug companies paid researchers to publish favorable articles on the effectiveness of stimulant treatments. They also endowed chairs and paid for the establishment of clinics in influential medical schools, particularly ones associated with universities of international reputation. By the mid 1970s, more than half a million children had already been medicated primarily for hyperactivity.

The brand of psychiatry that became increasingly popular in the 1980s and 1990s did not have its roots in notions of normal behavior or personality theory; it grew out of the concrete, atheoretical treatment style used in clinics and institutions for the profoundly disturbed. German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, not Freud, was the God of mental hospitals, and pharmaceuticals were the panacea. So the whole underlying notion of psychiatric treatment, diagnosis, and disease changed. Psychiatry, which had straddled psychology and medicine for a hundred years, abruptly abandoned psychology for a comfortable sinecure within its traditional parent discipline. The change was profound.

People seeking treatment were no longer clients, they were patients. Their complaints were no longer suggestive of a complex mental organization, they were symptoms of a disease. Patients were not active participants in a collaborative treatment, they were passive recipients of symptom-reducing substances. Mental disturbances were no longer caused by unique combinations of personality, character, disposition, and upbringing, they were attributed to pre-birth anomalies that caused vague chemical imbalances. Cures were no longer anticipated or sought; mental disorders were inherited illnesses, like birth defects, that could not be cured except by some future magic, genetic bullet. All that could be done was to treat symptoms chemically, and this was being done with astonishing ease and regularity.

In many ways, children are the ideal patients for drugs. By nature, they are often passive and compliant when told by a parent to take a pill. Children are also generally optimistic and less likely to balk at treatment than adults. Even if they are inclined to complain, the parent is a ready intermediary between the physician and the patient. Parents are willing to participate in the enforcement of treatments once they have justified them in their own minds and, unlike adults, many kids do not have the luxury of discontinuing an unpleasant medication. Children are additionally not aware of how they ought to feel. They adjust to the drugs’ effects as if they are natural and are more tolerant of side effects than adults. Pharmaceutical companies recognized these assets and soon were targeting new drugs specifically at children.

But third-party insurance providers balked at the surge in costs for treatment of previously unknown, psychological syndromes, especially since unwanted drug effects were making some cases complicated and expensive. Medicine’s growing prosperity as the purveyor of treatments for mental disorders was threatened, and the industry’s response was predictable. Psychiatry found that it could meet insurance company requirements by simplifying diagnoses, reducing identification to the mere appearance of certain symptoms. By 1980, they had published all new standards.

Lost in the process was the fact that the redefined diagnoses (and a host of new additions) failed to meet minimal standards of falsifiability and differentiability. This meant that the diagnoses could never be disproved and that they could not be indisputably distinguished from one another. The new disorders were also defined as lists of symptoms from which a physician could check off a certain number of hits like a Chinese menu, which led to reification, an egregious scientific impropriety. Insurers, however, with their exceptions undermined and under pressure from parents and physicians, eventually withdrew their objections. From that moment on, the treatment of children with powerful psychotropic medications grew unchecked.

As new psychotropics became available, their uses were quickly extended to children despite, in many cases, indications that the drugs were intended for use with adults only. New antipsychotics, the atypicals, were synthesized and marketed beginning in the 1970s. Subsequently, a new class of antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft was introduced. These drugs were added to the catalogue of childhood drug treatments with an astonishing casualness even as stimulant treatment for hyperactivity continued to burgeon.

In 1980, hyperactivity, which had been imprudently named “minimal brain dysfunction” in the 1960s, was renamed Attention Deficit Disorder in order to be more politic, but there was an unintended consequence of the move. Parents and teachers, familiar with the name but not always with the symptoms, frequently misidentified children who were shy, slow, or sad (introverted rather than inattentive) as suffering from ADD. Rather than correct the mistake, though, some enterprising physicians responded by prescribing the same drug for the opposite symptoms. This was justified on the grounds that stimulants, which were being offered because they slowed down hyperactive children, might very well have the predicted effect of speeding up under-active kids. In this way, a whole new population of children became eligible for medication. Later, the authors of DSM-III memorialized this practice by renaming ADD again, this time as ADHD, and redefining ADD as inattention. Psychiatry had reached a new level: they were now willing to invent an illness to justify a treatment. It would not be the last time this was done.

In the last twenty years, a new, more disturbing trend has become popular: the re-branding of legacy forms of mental disturbance as broad categories of childhood illness. Manic depressive illness and infantile autism, two previously rare disorders, were redefined through this process as “spectrum” illnesses with loosened criteria and symptom lists that cover a wide range of previously normal behavior. With this slim justification in place, more than a million children have been treated with psychotropics for bipolar disorder and another 200,000 for autism. A recent article in this magazine “The Bipolar Bamboozle” (Flora and Bobby 2008) illuminates how and why an illness that once occurred twice in every 100,000 Americans, has been recast as an epidemic affecting millions.

To overwhelmed parents, drugs solve a whole host of ancillary problems. The relatively low cost (at least in out-of-pocket dollars) and the small commitment of time for drug treatments make them attractive to parents who are already stretched thin by work and home life. Those whose confidence is shaken by indications that their children are “out of control” or “unruly” or “disturbed” are soothed by the seeming inevitability of an inherited disease that is shared by so many others. Rather than blaming themselves for being poor home managers, guardians with insufficient skills, or neglectful caretakers, parents can find comfort in the thought that their child, through no fault of theirs, has succumbed to a modern and widely accepted scourge. A psychiatric diagnosis also works well as an authoritative response to demands made by teachers and school administrators to address their child’s “problems.”

Once a medical illness has been identified, all unwanted behavior becomes fruit of the same tree. Even the children themselves are often at first relieved that their asocial or antisocial impulses reflect an underlying disease and not some flaw in their characters or personalities.
Conclusions

In the last analysis, childhood has been thoroughly and effectively redefined. Character and temperament have been largely removed from the vocabulary of human personality. Virtually every single undesirable impulse of children has taken on pathological proportions and diagnostic significance. Yet, if the psychiatric community is wrong in their theories and hypotheses, then a generation of parents has been deluded while millions of children have been sentenced to a lifetime of ingesting powerful and dangerous drugs.

Considering the enormous benefits reaped by the medical community, it is no surprise that critics have argued that the whole enterprise is a cynical, reckless artifice crafted to unfairly enrich them. Even though this is undoubtedly not true, physicians and pharmaceutical companies must answer for the rush to medicate our most vulnerable citizens based on little evidence, a weak theoretical model, and an antiquated and repudiated philosophy. For its part, the scientific community must answer for its timidity in challenging treatments made in the absence of clinical observation and justified by research of insufficient rigor performed by professionals and institutions whose objectivity is clearly in question, because their own interests are materially entwined in their findings.

It should hardly be necessary to remind physicians that even if their diagnoses are real, they are still admonished by Galen’s dictum Primum non nocere, or “first, do no harm.” If with no other population, this ought to be our standard when dealing with children. Yet we have chosen the most invasive, destructive, and potentially lethal treatment imaginable while rejecting other options that show great promise of being at least as effective and far safer. But these other methods are more expensive, more complicated, and more time-consuming, and thus far, we have not proved willing to bear the cost. Instead, we have jumped at a discounted treatment, a soft-drink-machine cure: easy, cheap, fast, and putatively scientific. Sadly, the difference in price is now being paid by eight million children.

Mental illness is a fact of life, and it is naïve to imagine that there are not seriously disturbed children in every neighborhood and school. What is more, in the straitened economy of child rearing and education, medication may be the most efficient and cost effective treatment for some of these children. Nevertheless, to medicate not just the neediest, most complicated cases but one child in every ten, despite the availability of less destructive treatments and regardless of doubtful science, is a tragedy of epic proportions.

What we all have to fear, at long last, is not having been wrong but having done wrong. That will be judged in a court of a different sort. Instead of humility, we continue to feed drugs to our children with blithe indifference. Even when a child’s mind is truly disturbed (and our standards need to be revised drastically on this score), a treatment model that intends to chemically palliate and manage ought to be our last resort, not our first option. How many more children need to be sacrificed for us to see the harm in expediency, greed, and plain ignorance?

This piece was originally published in the Skeptical Inquirer.
http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/139796/the_wholesale_sedation_of_america%27s_youth/?page=entire

Preventing Parentectomy Following Divorce

In child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, family court, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 7, 2009 at 1:00 am

By Frank S. Williams M.D.
Keynote Address, Fifth Annual Conference
National Council for Children’s Rights
Washington DC

Frank S. Williams, M.D. Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst for children, adolescents and adults, is Director of Family and Child Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. Dr. Williams also directs the Cedars-Sinai Program for Children and Families of Divorce.

Introduction

Parentectomy is the removal, erasure, or severe diminution of a caring parent in a child’s life, following separation or divorce.

Parentectomy covers a large range of parent removal from partial parentectomy, “You may visit your Daddy or Mommy every other Sunday”; to total parentectomy, as in Parental Alienation Syndrome, described by Gardner; or complete parent absence or removal. The victims of parentectomy are the children and the parents so severed from each other’s lives. A parentectomy is the most cruel infringement upon children’s rights to be carried out against human children by human adults. Parentectomies are psychologically lethal to children and parents.

In the worst consequential wake of a parentectomy , the victim parent gives up and walks away from the surgically-minded adults and the victim children. When this happens, the victim parent walks away from the chronic warring battlefield with intense ambivalence and confusion, faced with an insoluble dilemma. He or she knows that the chronic war in which one parent tries to erase the other parent, and the other parent struggles to stave off the parentectomy, is itself destructive to the children, as it causes ongoing tension and stress in them, as well as in the ongoing interaction between the children and each of their parents. On the other hand, if a mother or father gives up and walks away from the war, the children feel abandoned by a loved and needed parent, and unusually resent and become depressed over the abandonment.

Although children hate fighting and pray for it to stop, they misinterpret a parent’s giving up the fight as that parent’s not caring enough about them. Yet, clinicians know that, in these cases, even when a father or mother gives up the battle for custody, it is hardly ever due to not caring for their children enough. Rather, they give up the fight because they are emotionally depleted, physically exhausted, worn out, depressed or financially drained; they don’t want to continue to subject their children to the relentless warring; they discover that they have little chance of success against a prejudiced legal/judicial system, and little chance of success against a prejudiced, incompetent or skillful “hired gun” – mental health professional, who has been paid to facilitate a parentectomy. Unfortunately, for the right price, such psychological surgeons can be found.

Further Consequences of a Parentectomy

In addition to the worst scenario of actually being abandoned, when a parentectomy occurs, children lose the rewarding ongoing opportunity to give and receive love to and from a parent who has loved them.

These children frequently become depressed – especially in later adolescence. At times their depression reaches suicidal proportions. In my own clinical work, as well as in school and emergency room consultation experience during the past 15 years, I have found a very high correlation between suicidality in adolescents and a divorce in their earlier years, which virtually results in one parent being erased from their lives.

They often lack self esteem, particularly if they believe the erased parent willfully abandoned them, or when the remaining parent behaves as if the erased parent never existed or never loved and cared for the children.

Children with parentectomies often go on to mistrust and fail in adult intimate relationships, this is for several reasons. first, they tend to see people as good or bad, right or wrong, loving or hateful, worthy of gratitude or worthy of punishment. Secondly, they have usually witnessed models of adult relationships based on mutual accusations and defensiveness, as opposed to the healthier model of tolerating ambivalence about the good and bad in others and in oneself. Further, in cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, they may leave home prematurely or turn against the “favoured’ parent later in life. Their turning against the one favoured parent may come about in later adolescence, when they realize they were “brainwashed” victims caused by a malicious, angry, or disturbed parent, to unjustifiably hate the other parent.

Methods Used in the Service of Parentectomy

A parent seeking to perform a parentectomy usually enlists the help of attorneys, relatives, friends, and mental health professionals, in the pursuit of the radical removal of the other parent.

They have several methods at their disposal. First they can get the potential parent victim – usually the Father – to see a “friendly,” “brilliant” mental health clinician or child development specialist, who will brain-drill the potential parent victim about a distorted, out-of-context version of the psychological and developmental needs of children. The child development specialist will reiterate that children – especially young children – need the stability, constancy and consistency of one home, and that it is emotionally harmful for the children to be shuttled back and forth between homes. They will reiterate that children need a primary psychological caretaker.

From my own clinical experience with children, I would agree with the position that one home provides stability and continuity. However, when parents are divorced, the children cannot enjoy the benefit of both parents living with them in the same home. Therefore shuttling between homes may be inevitable. In divorce, we usually do not have the option of choosing what is in the best interest of the children. Instead, we most often must choose the least detrimental of several detrimental options. This is especially so when a child has been psychologically bonded to two parents. Of two potential evils for children – the evil of shuttling between the homes of two loving, caring parents versus the evil of losing one such parent – certainly the lesser evil is shuttling between two homes. It is the continued parental bonding, not the number of homes or vehicular travel, that will be the crucial determinant of children’s forward psychological development following divorce. In these days, when both parents frequently work, and rely on sharing the child-rearing with each other, with other family members and with housekeepers and day care personnel, the concept of one “primary psychological caretaker” is outdated. frequently there are two psychological caretakers or a network of caretakers, supervised by two parents.

Should the “friendly,” “brilliant” mental health clinician described above fail to convince the victim of the need for a parentectomy, the determined other parent can then enlist the aid of the “hired-gun” child development expert. After a brief, superficial contact with the other parent, of times without ever seeing the victim parent or without ever seeing the children interact with the victim parent – the “hired-gun” will unequivocally and with utmost scientific certainty declare:

1. that the children mistrust and are afraid of the victim parent;
2. that the victim parent lacks empathy for the children;
3. that the victim parent emotionally abuses the children;
4. that the victim parent is an alcoholic or other substance abuser;
5. that the victim parent is impulsive and prone to potential child physical abuse; and,
6. worst of all, that the victim parent suffers with a serious psychiatric disorder, such as Borderline Personality, Narcissistic, Anti-Social, or Obsessive Compulsive Personality disorder, or perhaps even Paranoia or Schizophrenia.

Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse

Should the “friendly” counselling and “hired gun” approaches fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can make an allegation of Child Sexual Abuse. This is most effective when the child is of preschool age, and easily confused. Such allegations need careful expert professional attention. Proper thorough evaluations must be conducted, during which time the child should not be removed from either parent. In selective situations, following parental separation and divorce, mothers, father and children are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse activity. When a child or parent is quantitively deprived of loving parent-child contact, the child or parent may over-cherish or over-respond to physical contact, which may become eroticized. When there is no other adult to console a lonely parent who feels frightened at night and that lonely parent’s child also feels lonely and frightened at night, the parent and child may wind up sleeping in the same bed together. this increases their vulnerability to erotic, sexual contacts.

Although we should not summarily dismiss the possibility of actual sexual molestation, at the same time we have found that most allegations of child sexual abuse during custody wars are false allegations. Some are calculated manipulations, while others result from parents’ anxieties, misinterpretations, and their clouded perceptions during custody battles.

Absence of Cooperation

If all the above methods fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can then claim, “We can’t cooperate and therefore we cannot share parenting by way of any form of joint custody, as joint custody requires substantial parental cooperation.” Unfortunately, this declaration is often supported by mental health clinicians, because of their misunderstanding or over-statement of the writings of Dr. Richard Gardner. Dr. Gardner’s clinical experience with children and parents of divorce is often misused to reinforce this faulty point of view about parental cooperation.

When Richard Gardner stated that “joint custody” requires a high degree of parental cooperation (1986, 1989), he was using his particular definition of joint custody – one in which there is a free-flowing, flexible arrangement; one in which the children and the parents may frequently shift schedules, may often change the days and times the children are with each parent; and may alter parental responsibilities for the children’s school and social activities. In such flexible arrangements, the shifts in schedule and responsibilities can occur during any given day, week or month. Of course, such an unstructured, ever-changing form of joint custody require frequent parental contact, negotiation and discussion, and often involves the children. Such a form of flexible, free-flowing joint custody would require parental cooperation, and would not work well where one parent hates or is emotionally allergic to the other parent.

This particular form of joint custody however, is now a rare and somewhat antiquated form of joint custody. It reflects the efforts of those few special early “pioneer” parents who respected each other as parents and individuals. They were therefore able to explore flexible joint arrangements in attempts to continue their children’s lives with both parents. In essence they explored and maintained living environments, approximating the pre-divorce situation. In contrast to Dr. Gardner’s definition, my definition of “joint custody” is a multi-faceted one. At one end of the spectrum, it includes such flexible unstructured, free flowing arrangements, defined by Gardner. At the other end of the spectrum it includes a detailed, rigid and highly structured parent-child plan, which minimizes the need for parent contact, negotiation and communication. Between the two extreme ends of the spectrum are varying arrangements in which real significant living time, including overnights, is shared with the children by both parents, with varying degrees of structure and rigidity, as required. Indeed, with warring, unfriendly, uncooperative parents, a highly structured, rigid, inflexible custody schedule is necessary and appropriate. The structure for high conflict parents should include transitions for the children between parents, on neutral grounds; for example, the children can be picked up from and be returned to school, instead of the other parent’s residence. This arrangement avoids points of battle between the parents, and avoids the need for frequent negotiations on a day-to-day, or week-to-week basis, which, in turn, avoids the need to battle over decision-making, residential time, or parental authority in front of the children.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Gardner has been misunderstood and misused by some mental health clinicians advocating for sole custody to one parent. In consultation with Dr. Gardner, I learned that he believes that when there are two highly bonded loving parents, a rigid structured schedule of even 50-50 shared residential overnights, as well as a pre-defined structure decision-making authority plan for each parent may be appropriate to best serve the children. He would just not define such a 50-50, rigid, structured arrangement as “joint-custody”.

Dynamics Behind the Pursuit of Parentectomy

Parental Identity

The fear of losing one’s parental identity is the principal dynamic behind parentectomy efforts. Throughout life, all persons gain and integrate many identities, which become part of their self-images. These identities include one’s identity as: a child member of a family; a student; a peer or team member; a professional or other worker; a mate with marital identity; a person with a parental identity; and a grandparent with a grand-parental identity.

Until recent times, some parents, more traditionally mothers in our western culture, reached a point of divorce with primarily marital and parental identities. For such parents, as their mate or marital identity dissolves, as it does in divorce, the only identity often left for them to hold on to, cherish, and fight for is their parental identity.

Grandparents, especially when they are retired from both work and parenting, often fear loss of their primary remaining identity – their grandparents identity. As they envision sharing or losing valued time with their grandchildren, their fears may prompt them to harp on their sons and daughters to fight for sole custody of the children, so they will not become “unemployed” grandparents.

The appearance of a potential stepmother or stepfather on the scene is highly threatening to parental identity. This is especially so when that newcomer has a great need to parent. Hearing one’s children refer to a step parent as “mommy” or “daddy”, often triggers the search for the parental scalpel.

The Loss of the Family

For adults, the pain of losing one’s family structure is very intense, and in may cases, much more intense than the pain of losing one’s mate. Divorcing parents often desperately hold on to a myth that their family has not fallen apart, in their attempt to not feel the pain and depression which accompanies the rupture of the family. They maintain the myth of a one-family structure, embodying elements of one home and one family. This myth is much easier to hold on to is a parent does not have to see the other parent. It is especially easier to hold on to if a replacement is brought in to fulfill the other parent’s role, namely a boyfriend, stepfather, girlfriend, or stepmother.

In counselling parents of divorce, I have found it much more productive to focus on the pain caused by the loss of family structure, as opposed to focusing on the pain caused by the parent’s prior battle with each other, or the pain caused by their loss of each other.

The literature on divorce leans heavily on the concept that divorced parents chronically battle in an effort to hold on to each other and not lose the marital relationship. Although that dynamic does exist, in my experience it is not a universal post-divorce dynamic, and it is not the primary reason behind prolonged custody struggles or prolonged custody wars. Instead, I find the need to hold on to this myth of one non-ruptured family is a more usual dynamic behind prolonged custody wars. Unfortunately, maintaining that myth of one family, requires erasing the other parent.

Envy, Rage and Revenge

A parent’s desire to punish the other parent by depriving the other parent of his or her children often relates to the other parent’s apparent or fantasied greater success or luck in life. This can create rage and envy. The real or fantasied greater success is in the area of: finding a new and rewarding love relationship; achieving greater financial security; having a wholesome extended support system of family and friends; and most ironic, envy and rage in relation to the other parent’s fantasied or actual greater success in relating to their children in warm, comfortable, loving and trusting ways.

It is this rage, envy, and the wish to punish that we see most often in severe cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, with very pathologically disturbed parents.

Psychological “Allergic” Reactions to the Other Parent

We frequently see situations in which one parent became psychologically dependent upon the other during the marriage.

Once separated and needing to break the dependency but fearful of the continued power of dependency, such a dependent parent feels and urgent compulsion to avoid the other parent as one avoids poison ivy. Feeling emotionally “allergic” the dependent parent fears susceptibility to renewed dependency. To avoid the allergen – namely the other parent – the dependent parent attempts to achieve complete avoidance which, of course, is easier to achieve if that parent can be kept out of the children’s lives. The allergy medicine – parentectomy – becomes the children’s poison!

Prevention of Parentectomy

The following recommendations on how to prevent parentectomies may, in part, appear drastic. These prevention measures which are presented in the spirit of suggestions, and based on clinical experience, include:

1. Person contemplating marriage and children should consider a proposed mate’s tendency toward relying on the role of being a parent as his or her exclusive identity. Such persons may need to rely totally on full-time control over the children for identity following divorce.
2. One should try to fall in love with and have children with a mate who has great empathy for children’s needs and feelings. A mother or father with empathy who loves his or her children will usually not subject the children to a parent removal.
3. One should not separate from one’s mate without a scheduled, structured, legal custody arrangement, in advance of parting the marital relationship.
4. Once separated, a parent should never speak with and certainly should never see a mental health professional – other than a court appointed one – that he or she has not helped choose in advance, and should further avoid like the plague a friendly-sounding psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counsellor, who calls and says he or she wants to help the parents and children through the pain of divorce. this is especially so when that professional has already seen the children and the other parent.
5. Parents should seek and hopefully find attorneys not biased by the conviction that all children need a primary home and a primary caretaker after divorce.
6. The first moment it becomes clear that scheduled custodial time with one’s child is being consistently blocked, the parent so blocked should, run not walk, with his or her attorney, to the nearest family court.

Conclusion

Many parents, mental health clinicians, and attorneys have had contact with the process of parentectomy as a victim or as someone close to a victim. Professionals must guide victims or potential victims through the maze of legal, judicial, mental health and family processes which can lead to the radical “surgery” of parent-erasure I call parentectomy. Attempts at parentectomy create a psychological reign of terror, for the intended parent and child-victims. Those victims who survive are emotionally bloodied, bitter, war-torn, and exhausted. They often form and join support groups with committed and caring persons in organisations to protect their children and themselves, or to help others to protect their children and themselves from the dreaded sequelae of parentectomy. Most parentectomy victims and most of those who try to help such victims, experience a great deal of chronic emotional pain.

I wish there were a panacea to help reduce that pain. There is not. The author has shared his experience and thinking around children and parents of divorce, in the hope that increased understanding of the dynamics behind parentectomy, will help clinicians, attorneys, judges and parents eradicate this most dreaded, malevolent and destructive affliction of parents and children who love, care for and need each other.

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/willia90.htm