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Posts Tagged ‘fathers rights’

Life Without Father – By David Popenoe

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on July 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Life Without a Father

By David Popenoe
Reader’s Digest (Canada) November 1997, page 117

What a man contributes to child rearing may surprise you

THE DECLINE of fatherhood is one of the most unexpected and extraordinary social trends of our time. In just three decades — 1960 to 1990 — the number of children living apart from their biological fathers [that is: natural fathers] nearly doubled. By the turn of the century almost 50 percent of North American children may be going to sleep each evening without being able to say good night to their dads.
There was a time in the past when fatherlessness was far more common than it is today, but death was to blame — not divorce, desertion or out-of-wedlock births. Most of today’s fatherless children have fathers who are perfectly capable of shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood. Who would ever have thought that so many of them would choose to relinquish those responsibilities?
A surprising suggestion emerging from recent social-science research is that it is decidedly worse to a child to lose a father in the modern, voluntary way than through death. The children of divorced and never-married mothers are less successful by almost every measure than the children of widowed mothers.
Out-of-wedlock births may surpass divorce as a cause of fatherlessness later in the 1990s. They accounted for 32 percent of all U.S. births in 1995; by the year 2000 they may account for 40 percent of the total. And there is reason to believe that having an unmarried father is even worse for a child than having a divorced father.

MEN ARE not biologically attuned to being committed fathers. Left culturally unregulated, men’s sexual behaviour can be promiscuous, their paternity casual, their commitment to families weak. In recognition of this, cultures have used sanctions to bind men to their children, and of course the institution of marriage has been culture’s chief vehicle.
Our experience in late-20th-century society shows what happens when such a sanction breaks down. The decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague us.
In the mid-1950s, only 27 percent of American girls had sexual intercourse by age 18; in 1988, 56 percent of such girls-including a tenth of 15-year-olds-had become sexually active. Fatherlessness is a contributing factor.
Teen suicide has nearly tripled in the United States. Alcohol and drug abuse among teenagers continues at a very high rate. Scholastic Assessment Test scores declined 75 points between 1960 and l990. The absence of fathers seems to be one of the most important causes of these trends.
Few people doubt the fundamental importance of mothers, but what do fathers do? Much of what they contribute is simply the result of being a second adult in the home. Bringing up children is demanding, stressful and exhausting. Two adults can support and spell each other. They can offset each other’s deficiencies and build on each other’s strengths.
Fathers also bring an array of unique qualities. Some are familiar: the father as protector, for example, and role model. Teenage boys without fathers are notoriously prone to trouble. The pathway to adulthood for daughters is somewhat easier, but they still must learn from their fathers, in ways they cannot from their mothers, how to relate to men. They learn from their fathers about heterosexual trust, intimacy and difference. They learn to appreciate their own femininity from the one male who is most special in their lives. Most important, through loving and being loved by their fathers, they learn that they are love-worthy.
Current research gives much deeper — and more surprising — insights into the father’s role in child rearing. One significant overlooked dimension of fathering is play. From their children’s birth through adolescence, fathers tend to emphasize play more than caretaking. The father’s style of play is likely to be both physically stimulating and exciting. With older children it involves more team work, requiring competitive testing of physical and mental skills. It frequently resembles a teaching relationship: Come on, let me show you how.
Mothers play more at the child’s level. They seem willing to let the child direct play.
Kids, at least in the early years, seem to prefer to play with daddy. In one study of 2 ½-year-olds who were given a choice, more than two thirds chose to play with their father.
The way fathers play has effects on everything from the management of emotions to intelligence and academic achievement. It is particularly important in promoting self-control. According to one expert, “children who roughhouse with their fathers quickly learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable.” They learn when to “shut it down.” At play and in other realms, fathers tend to stress competition, challenge, initiative, risk taking and independence. Mothers, as caretakers, stress emotional security and personal safety. On the playground fathers often try to get the child to swing ever higher, while mothers are cautious, worrying about an accident.
We know, too, that fathers’ involvement seems to be linked to improved verbal and problem-solving skills and higher academic achievement. Several studies found that the presence of the father is one of the determinants of girls’ proficiency in mathematics. And one pioneering study showed that along with paternal strictness, the amount of time fathers spent reading with them was a strong predictor of their daughters’ verbal ability.
For sons, the results have been equally striking. Studies uncovered a strong relationship between fathers’ involvement and the mathematical abilities of their sons. Other studies found a relationship between paternal nurturing and boys’ verbal intelligence.
We don’t often think of fathers in connection with the teaching of empathy, a character trait essential to an ordered society of law-abiding, co-operative and compassionate adults. But at the end of a 26-year study, a trio of re-

[A graph was inserted here in the original article. The graph, called
CANADIAN CHILDREN LIVING
APART FROM THEIR FATHERS,
shows the following data
1961   9.0%
1995 17.3%
Source: Statistics Canada, 93 312; and Census of Canada]

searchers at Harvard University reached a “quite astonishing” conclusion: Of those they examined, the most important childhood factor in developing empathy was paternal involvement in child care.
It is not clear why fathers are so important in instilling this quality. Perhaps merely by being with their children they provide a model for compassion. Perhaps it has to do with their style of play or mode of reasoning. Whatever the cause, it is hard to think of a more important contribution that fathers can make to their children.
The benefits of active fatherhood do not all flow to the child. Child rearing encourages men to develop those habits of character — including prudence, cooperativeness, honesty, trust and self-sacrifice — that can lead to achievement as an economic provider. Having children typically impresses on men the importance of setting a good example. Who has not heard at least one man say that he gave up an irresponsible way of life when he married and had children?
On the face of it, there would seem to be at least one potentially positive side to fatherlessness: Without a man around the house, the incidence of child abuse might be expected to drop. Unfortunately, reports of child neglect and abuse have skyrocketed since the mid ’70s. One of the greatest risk factors in child abuse, investigations found, is family disruption, especially living in a female-headed, single-parent household.
Why does living in a fatherless household pose such hazards for children? Explanations include poverty and the fact that children receive less supervision and protection from men their mothers bring home. Children are also more emotionally deprived, which leaves them “vulnerable to sexual abusers, who commonly entrap them by offering affection, attention and friendship,” wrote David Finkelhor, an expert on child abuse.
Another group that has suffered in the new age of fatherlessness is, of course, women. In this new era the oft-quoted quip that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle no longer seems quite so funny. There is no doubt that many women get along very well without men in their lives, and that having the wrong men in their lives can be disastrous. But just as it seems to play a role in assaults on children, fatherlessness appears to be a factor in generating more violence against women.
Partly this is a matter of arithmetic. As the number of unattached males in the population goes up, so does the incidence of violence towards women.

IN ORDER to reinstate fathers in the lives of their children, we must undo the cultural shift of the last few decades towards radical individualism. Marriage must be re-established as a strong social institution.
Many practical steps can be taken. Employers, for example, can provide generous parental leave and experiment with more flexible work hours. Religious leaders can reclaim moral ground from the culture of divorce and non-marriage by resisting the temptation to equate “committed relationships” with marriage. Marriage counsellors can begin with a bias in favour of marriage, stressing the needs of the family at least as much as the needs of the client. As for the entertainment industry, pressure already is being brought to curtail the glamorization of unwed motherhood, marital infidelity and sexual promiscuity.
We should consider a two-tier system of divorce law: Marriages without minor children would be relatively easy to dissolve, but marriages with children would be subject to stricter guidelines. Longer waiting periods for divorcing couples with children might be called for, combined with mandatory marriage counselling.
If we are to progress towards a more just and humane society, we must reverse the tide that is pulling fathers apart from their families. Nothing is more important for our children or for our future as a society.

How important do you think fathers are to family life? We welcome your views. Write to Readers Reply at the address on page 8 or post your comments on our web site at http://www.readersdigest.ca. Your views may be included in a future issue.

[Snail-mail address:
Excerpts Editor
Reader’s Digest
215, Redfern Ave.
Westmount, Que.
H3Z 2V9

Note: I checked their website but could not find a specific e-mail address that seemed appropriate. I suppose that some of the ones shown will do, if the recipient will forward the message to the appropriate party. –WHS]

FROM LIFE WITHOUT FATHER. COPYRIGHT © 1996 BY DAVID POPENOE PUBLISHED BY THE FREE PRESS A DIVISION OF SIMON & SCHUSTER, INC., NEW YORK, N.Y., AND DlSTRIBUTED IN CANADA AT $34 BY DISTICAN INC, 35 FULTON WAY, RlCHMOND HILL, ONT. L4B 2N4 PHOTO: [not shown] © RICHARD LEE

DAVID POPENOE is a professor of sociology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
===<end of article>===

In response to the article, I sent the following message to Reader’s Digest:

Dear Reader’s Digest,

Re: Life Without Father, November 1997

Thank you for publishing the outstanding article by David Popenoe.  It is too bad that the article contained two paragraphs that didn’t ring quite true in the context, although they are in line with the “politically correct” view that men are to be blamed for everything bad that has befallen us over the last thirty year and before that.

In his second paragraph David Popenoe stated:

“There was a time in the past when fatherlessness was far more common than it is today, but death was to blame — not divorce, desertion or out-of-wedlock births.  Most of today’s fatherless children have fathers who are perfectly capable of shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood.  Who would ever have thought that so many of them would choose to relinquish those responsibilities?”

A number of things are not right with that.

Never in modern history has fatherlessness been more common than it is now, not even as a result of the massive numbers of casualties during the First World War, and never before in the history of mankind was fatherlessness pandemic at anything approaching today’s rates in the whole world, especially not in all of western civilization.

One statistic might serve to provide some clarification in that regard.  In my home-town (Duesseldorf, Germany, pop 540,000 before W.W.II and 350,000 at end of W.W.II) immediately after the end of W.W.II, “Almost 10% of the children had lost their fathers, the fathers of 4.5% of the children were missing in action and of 7.8% in prison of war camps;” [Source: In Schutt und Asche, page 100 (Volker Zimmermann, Grupello Verlag, ISBN 3-928234-28-5, (my translation) –WHS].  I’m certain that other people will be able to provide far more comprehensive statistics pertaining to historical levels of fatherlessness.

There is nothing wrong with the statement contained in the second sentence in the paragraph.  It clearly illustrates the insanity of today’s society in substituting fathers with government care, by pushing fathers out of their children’s life.  I’m glad that Prof. Popenoe makes an excellent case for the wrongfulness of that policy in the rest of his article.  However, the last sentence in the paragraph is an outrageous insult to all fathers who are fighting a hopeless battle for the right of their children to have a father in their lives.  Those fathers are being emotionally and financially devastated by our bureaucracies in the process of that battle.  After all, it is not mostly fathers who walk out of their children’s lives that causes our epidemic of fatherlessness.  In three out of four cases it is the mother who pushes the father out of the children’s lives and files for divorce — most often in the mistaken belief that a life without a provider and protector in the family will provide greater freedom and  more income.

What Prof. Popenoe should have clarified instead in that paragraph is that never in the history of mankind have men been vilified to the extent that they are being vilified today, and that as a result of that vilification a constant stream of anti-father and anti-family legislation is being produced that increasingly makes it impossible for far too many fathers to play an active role in their children’s lives.

Let’s hope that Prof. Popenoe will also write an article on single motherhood and the problems faced by children who grow up in the care of single mothers together with their half-siblings who are often the children of two or more different men.  That might compensate for the impact that his fourth paragraph has on his readers.  He stated there:

“MEN ARE not biologically attuned to being committed fathers.  Left culturally unregulated, men’s sexual behaviour can be promiscuous, their paternity casual, their commitment to families weak.  In recognition of this, cultures have used sanctions to bind men to their children, and of course the institution of marriage has been culture’s chief vehicle.”

Why did Prof. Popenoe find it necessary to single out men for their tendency to be promiscuous? Is it not true that the need for “sanctions to bind men to their children” within the institution of marriage applies just the same to women?  Else, why is it that women have children out of wedlock and by men not part of their marriage, or have children by many different men?  Promiscuity it not an exclusive male domain.  The effect of promiscuity on children is just as devastating if the mother is promiscuous without having her sexuality regulated by marriage.  Men and women are as equally likely to be promiscuous as they are equally likely to be violent.  Both men and women are members of the same species.  It took the institution of marriage to bring about the civilizing of the human race.  That brought order into chaos.  Will the reverse not happen if our families are being destroyed?  It seems to me that Prof. Popenoe made a very good case for the family.  Let’s hope that we will hear more of his views, but, let’s hope also that he’ll hold back a bit on the male-bashing.

Sincerely,

Walter H. Schneider
P.O. Box 62
Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada
T0B 0S0
Tel: (780) 796-2306

Fatherhood.

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Fathers’ Rights Are Fathers’ Duties

In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on July 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

by Stephen Baskerville

Separation and divorce destroy children’s lives. It helps to remember this because of the vast industry now devoted to what has been called “good divorce.” This is the trend that seems intent on making divorce palatable and letting parents feel good about destroying their children’s home. At best this is damage control. It is impossible to insulate children from the damage caused by the destruction of their families. Those who pretend we can are lying to themselves and to us. Moreover, the traumas of divorce are almost all exacerbated by litigation. Worse, they are all exacerbated when one parent – usually the father – is marginalized from the children, as is now almost invariably the case.

The reasons why separation and divorce damage children are too numerous to mention. But from the standpoint of fatherhood politics, the most important reasons involve authority.

The very act of separation and divorce, aside from any accompanying behavior or words, itself sends a myriad of terrible messages to children. It says that parents can put their own wishes above the welfare of their children. This is obviously a bad example, which the children can then carry on to their own families. But a perhaps worse effect is to destroy parental authority. No parent who has put himself or herself before their child in such a basic way has any moral authority to instruct, correct, or discipline a child. How can parents instill lessons of selflessness in children when their own actions demonstrate precisely the opposite?

More specifically, it destroys notions of trust, obligation, and fidelity in the child, qualities basic to any family. In effect it says that it is okay to break promises and obligations such as marriage vows when they no longer suit our convenience, it is okay to make up the rules as we go along and, in effect, live by no principles except those that suit our momentary convenience. Again, how can parents instill an ethic of fidelity, obligation, and trust when their own actions manifest the contrary?

Even more fundamentally, it destroys the integrity of the family itself. The act of separation and divorce says that a family is not something from which the child can derive a sense of unconditional love and security. On the contrary, a family can be disbanded at any time at the whim of one member. Even more, it says that a family member can be disgraced and expelled. Especially when it is unilateral (as it increasingly is) and when one parent is marginalized from the children’s lives, the effect is the expulsion of a family member. This is the destruction of the child’s entire world and the source of unimaginable terror to a child. If Daddy can be pushed out of the family, after all, what about me? What security is there in my family if members can be expelled because they do something Mommy or someone else doesn’t like? What if I do something Mommy doesn’t like? What is the meaning of Mommy’s or Daddy’s love if it can be terminated when it is no longer convenient?

Finally, litigation against family members exacerbates and in effect politicizes these messages. It says that the state is a legitimate instrument to punish the child’s loved one who has fallen out of favor. It says that rather than solving problems as a family, we declare a member to be a public enemy and bring the power of the state to bear on him. In an almost literal sense, we declare civil war on our loved ones. Again, if the police can be used to keep Daddy away or throw him in jail because Mommy no longer likes him, what will they do to me?

Perhaps from the political standpoint, the most significant lesson for the child is the firsthand experience of tyranny and oppression, both in society and within his own family. The custodial parent becomes a kind of satrap of the court, and the dictatorship of the court over the family is extended and writ small within the family. The custodial parent tyrannizes over the non-custodial parent, undermining his authority, dictating the terms of his access to the children, talking to him contemptuously and condescendingly as if he were himself a naughty child, perhaps engaging in a full scale campaign of vilification (which similarly mirrors the larger campaign against fathers waged by the state and media). After witnessing this against the non-custodial parent, the children then experience it themselves. With no checks on the power of the custodial parent, the tyranny is naturally exercised over them as well. In extreme (but not uncommon) cases of course this leads to child abuse.

All these messages concern authority – parental authority, paternal authority, political authority — and therefore they are of primary interest to fathers.

When a father participates in separation and divorce, when he engages in litigation, when he even acquiesces in them, he too is sending these messages to his children. When a father takes part in these actions he is participating in the destruction of his own authority. He is taking part in the destruction of his own fatherhood.

Certainly there are times when we must resort to the courts just to be permitted to see our children. But in the long run when we rely on these means, when we allow them to dictate the terms and place of the struggle, we lose and so do our children. Even when these actions are undertaken by our spouses unilaterally, the child is receiving the same message. Then it is up to us alone to provide a positive counter-message.

The literature on “good divorce” offers no rebuttals to these messages. There is a more effective and more constructive alternative.

The Political Alternative

The alternative is to become active politically for the defense of our children and families.

I know this idea immediately raises red flags among many. Images come to mind of strident “activists” (like the dreaded feminists perhaps) screeching about their “rights.” Many men are uncomfortable in this role, in which they have never before seen themselves. Our political world has become such a plethora of competing interest groups all trying to grab their share of the pie that we have forgotten what political action has done to relieve the truly oppressed.

More serious is the common assumption among men that working politically for the rights of fathers and children will divert time and energy from their own individual legal cases and reduce time with their own children while resulting in few tangible benefits in terms of winning custody or increasing visitation. This is a natural assumption, but it is not true.

In fact the opposite is true. Political involvement may be the best thing you can do for your own case and for your own children. Moreover it will be beneficial to you and your children immediately, even if you never achieve the stated goals. It is more effective than all the touchy-feely advice you will get from therapists. And it is more constructive than all the legal help from the scavengers of the divorce industry. This is less because of what it gives than what it demands: It requires qualities that are directly necessary to fathers who have been through desertion, separation, divorce, false accusations, and the rest. Most importantly, it carries messages that can help heal the traumas of children who are suffering from separation and divorce.

Here are some of the direct and immediate benefits of political action:

Political action establishes authority. If you have gone through a desertion, separation, or divorce — especially if your child was abducted from your home or you have been accused of some kind of abuse – your authority as a father has been largely destroyed. Even fathers in intact families have felt their authority take quite a drubbing these days, largely owing to the anti-male climate. If your wife has placed her desires before her children’s welfare by destroying their home, she too no longer has any moral authority to correct a child. Political action gives you the authority of one who has taken the moral high ground and acts out of principle along with others through constructive means for the welfare and establishment of his family and his society.

Political action confers dignity. When you lost your children you lost your dignity and received the stigma of the “evil male.” You unexpectedly joined the ranks of “abusers,” “batterers,” and “deadbeat dads.” Suddenly all those things you assumed about others are being assumed about you. You “must have” done something to deserve losing your children. This is a very difficult stigma to remove, and you won’t eliminate it by cowering behind a lawyer. Men do not hire someone else to fight their battles. Standing up for your rights and those of your children is a way of proclaiming to the world that you have nothing to be ashamed of and that you have done nothing wrong.

Properly understood, political action is not shrill or strident. It is the dignified but uncompromising demand for civil rights: the right to be fathers to your children. No political movement ever has lasting success without dignity, and fathers will get nowhere unless they show dignity both in their families and before the world. No doubt you have already discovered that in the home it is up to you to act maturely and not to quarrel with your spouse, because of the bias in the courts and because your spouse probably has no incentive to be restrained. Why not take this one step further into the public realm and forego the quarrel of a court battle? The same principle applies. We don’t have to hide our actions from our children or anyone else because they are ugly, undignified, shameful, or vicious – as, for example, is beating up on our spouse in a courtroom with a hired goon. We are acting openly in the public realm. We are asking for justice in the court of public opinion. Nothing could be more dignified.

Political action will make you a better father. The qualities necessary for being an effective political activist are the same as those necessary for a good father: sobriety, commitment, fidelity, sacrifice. Demanding your just rights is not a license for belligerence; quite the opposite. All great revolutionary leaders were moral puritans who saw the need for self-discipline. Lenin used to inveigh against libertine communists who would substitute talk for action and initiate a dozen tasks and never complete any. If you don’t like this comparison, consider Oliver Cromwell, who “conquered himself” before he conquered his enemies. Frederick Douglass gave up drinking because he saw it was the most effective method of slaveholders to keep his people in bondage. Martin Luther King used to speak of the need for “self-purification” prior to action. The principle is simple: self-government requires self-control. Alcohol, gambling, womanizing, frivolous pastimes are incompatible with republican virtue. If you can’t give up your sports page or your evenings in front of the TV, your girlie magazines or your nights out with the lads, you’re no use as a fathers’ rights activist. You’re also probably not the world’s greatest father.

Political action is an effective alternative to violence. Without lending credence to the hysteria over “male violence,” let us grant for the sake of argument that fathers may be tempted to become violent when their children are taken away (who wouldn’t?). If you find disturbing thoughts suddenly appearing in your head when they take your children, channel it into peaceful and constructive but determined activity for your children. Martin Luther King used to observe that violence in the black ghettoes decreased significantly following political demonstrations. Involvement in fathers’ rights is an effective way of channeling rage that might otherwise fuel domestic violence.

Political action shows your child you care. You may be caught in the vicious circle of being ordered to stay away from your children by a judge and as a result having them think you don’t love them because you’re not there. This is their natural conclusion and could be exacerbated by Mom’s poison. You can’t tell them it’s because of Mommy or the Evil Judge that you aren’t there, and you shouldn’t; even if you could it wouldn’t matter. Children judge by actions, not words. On the other hand, once your children witness you exercising your civic duty and your constitutional rights on their behalf and on behalf of other fathers and children, they will eventually understand why. They will realize that political action requires sacrifice, and they will admire you all the more and profit from your example. You are also telling the world that your children are so special that their father is willing to sacrifice everything for them.

Political action is an excellent education for your children. Some fathers feel they must not involve their children in their quarrel and fear they may be punished for it. But this is true only because the conflict is personal and litigious; in other words, because it is shameful. Children should always be spared the trauma of quarreling parents and animosity between spouses, whether at home or in court. But exercising your civic rights – indeed, fulfilling your duty as a citizen — is a different matter entirely. This is something your children should see. We make enormous efforts in schools, churches, and civic organizations, teaching children about civic involvement, about constitutional rights and the importance of cultivating a public spirit and of sacrificing private desires for the larger public good. We introduce them to the teachings of Socrates, Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. Yet when it comes to putting their ideas into practice by following their example, we are told this is somehow “inappropriate.” In contrast to litigation, when we undertake political action we are not fighting our children’s mothers; we are fighting injustice. What could be more inspiring than to emulate these men on behalf of your children? Children know that actions speak louder than words. The lesson that civic action requires sacrifice, and must be undertaken with dignity, is both edifying for them and something that will make them proud of their father.

Finally, political action will provide your children with the spiritual tools they need to cope with family breakdown. This may not be obvious, yet it is true. But only if it is based on dignity, sacrifice, and love. A politics of hate, vengeance, and demonization is not a fit lesson for children. But a politics of love and non-violence has its origins in the same spiritual values we try to instill in our children in school and in church. No child is too young to learn this lesson. If you take your children to Sunday school (and many people feel this is an important duty of a father, even if he himself has previously not been religious), you will be exposing them to the courageous acts of the Hebrew women, of Shedrach, Meshach, and Abednego, of Jesus himself. These figures demonstrated precisely the qualities children of divorce more than others need to see. Teach them about sacrifice for others, about commitment to a cause, about obligation as citizens, about the power of moral authority, about love to those who hate us, about fidelity to principles larger than themselves.

Martin Luther King, the leading American practitioner of non-violence, used to talk about the latent violence in the system of state-enforced segregation and of the need for a “creative tension” to bring this violence out into the open. We have a similar task. A latent violence already pervades our families which are in effect occupied by the instruments of the state forcibly separating us from our children. We must extract the violence from the system, and we must be prepared to suffer violence ourselves, but we must use none. At some point we may have to adopt Ghandi’s principle: “Fill up the jails.”

No doubt you will be accused of dragging your children into the quarrel. But non-violent political action shifts the quarrel away from the person to the injustice. Our children are already at the center of the quarrel. The have already been dragged in as the chief victims by the belligerent parent and by the state that has invaded their family and set up a kind of domestic apartheid between the custodial parent and the child, on the one hand, and the non-custodial parent. Martin Luther King writes boldly and eloquently of how, despite the false pathos of those who “deplored our ‘using’ our children in this fashion…the introduction of Birmingham’s children into the [non-violent civil rights] campaign was one of the wisest moves we made.”

It is an illusion to pretend that we can shelter our children from a quarrel of which they are at the center and which by its very nature is constantly damaging them. What is important is not that they be sheltered from it but that they be provided with the tools to deal with it and with any crisis constructively. On their own what they will adopt are the tools of withdrawal, guilt, aggression, alienation, or any number of other symptoms of divorce that have become all too familiar. No matter how careful you are they will also absorb your hostility as well as that of your spouse.

The touchy-feely proponents of “good divorce” are right as far as they go when they tell us to how to mitigate these and suggest we “talk” to our children to mitigate these emotions. They suggest you tell your children, “No matter what we do to one another, your Mommy and I still love you.” But consciously or not, the child knows, “but not enough to keep my home together.” You are supposed to tell your child, “What’s happening between Mommy and me is not your fault.” But the child knows that she is the center and “cause” of the quarrel. Talk is cheap, and children know it. No amount of talk, contact group jargon, or therapy sessions is going to save children from the traumas of what their parents do. What we can do is give them the tools to overcome them and to act. These are partly spiritual, but they are also political.

The Bible and the Koran teach that we are all guilty of sin. Creative non-violence teaches that we are all responsible for society’s injustices. Choose the value system you prefer. The point is that these religious and political values teach us how we and our children can channel our inadequacies, real and imagined, into constructive action.

We should tell our children that we all do bad things. We are all sinners, or we are all responsible for society’s injustices, or however you prefer to phrase it. We cannot avoid guilt. What we can do is be sorry for the bad things we do and ask forgiveness. What we can do is forgive those who do bad things to us. What we can do is to love the person while hating the evil they do – the message of Christianity, Islam, civil disobedience, creative non-violence, and every other humane doctrine. We can teach them what the Bible, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King all taught: that “unmerited suffering is redemptive.” We can teach them the one central principle of both religion and political action: that salvation requires sacrifice. If we strive toward this, we will not only have happy, well-adjusted children in spite of the belligerence they witness in others; we may just be permitted to be fathers to them again. Or perhaps I should say that from that moment we again will be fathers.

Copyright © 1998 – 2000 Stephen Baskerville
Department of Political Science
Howard University
Washington, DC 20059

Other pieces by this author

To learn more about Political Action, try:

American Coalition for Fathers and Children

Fathers’ Rights Are Fathers’ Duties.

Ch 8. Dads Visitation and Access Rights

In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Liberty, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers on June 30, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Living On The Outside Looking In

In today’s society, nearly half of children are being born to single mothers. Combine this with the high rate of divorce and a parent (usually the father) ends up on the outside looking in, wondering what is happening with his children. His access to them is limited and controlled, either by the court, or by the mother. For this reason, access rights need to be defined clearly to avoid later issues arising as to whether a certain day, weekend, or holiday belongs to one parent or the other.

What Needs To Be Known

On the following pages, you will find information on:

  • What Parents Need To Discuss On Access Rights;
  • Sample Visitation Schedule;
  • Sample Long Distance Visitation Schedule;
  • How To Address Denial Of Access;
  • Collecting Evidence Of Denial Of Access For The Courts;
  • GrandParent Access Rights;
  • Child Refusing To Visit;

You will learn that hiring an attorney is not necessarily a first step to address denial of access. Many state or local governments have developed procedures for enforcing visitation orders. In addition, the Federal government has made funding available to states for developing model programs to ensure that children will be able to have the continuing care and emotional support of both parents. Check with your local CSE agency and clerk of court to see what resources are available to you and to find out about laws that address custody and visitation.

Denial of access is a major problem, even with court orders in place.  According to the US Dept. of Health & Human Services study, “Survey of Absent Parents” over 60% of mothers regularly violates the access rights of fathers, cutting off all contact between the children and their fathers within five years. Unlike child support, mothers are not jailed, even with multiple Contempt of Court ruling against them for violating the father’s court ordered visitation rights.  However, Michigan has recently passed a law to limit the driving privileges of a custodial parent violating the access orders.

The best way to address repeated denial of access rights is to have the court order the offending parent to provide the court with a cash or certified bond that is forfeited if the orders are again violated.

Ch 8. Dads Visitation & Access Rights.

Divorced fathers raise voices for full measure of parental rights – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on June 20, 2010 at 5:10 pm

By Tom Fontaine
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Divorced dads increasingly are seeking legal and political remedies from a legal system that they feel has been slanted toward mothers, say attorneys and lawmakers.

“It’s a trend and a voice coming through that’s very strong. I think they’re tired of paying out money and not having the same rights when it comes to their children,” said Karen Stewart, author of “Clean Break” and founder of a company that assists divorcing couples.

Maria Cognetti, an attorney in Camp Hill, agrees.

“There is no group out there that is as vocal and in the face of legislators as the fathers’-rights groups. There’s nothing even close on the women’s side.”

Kevin Sheahen, 55, of Bethel Park is former Pittsburgh chapter president of the National Congress for Fathers and Children. He depicts fathers’-rights groups as underdogs in their efforts.

“Very few (fathers) stick around beyond the heat of their own issues. Once their issues are resolved and things calm down, they move on with their own lives,” Sheahen said.

In Pennsylvania, which averages about 30,000 divorces annually, groups such as the NCFC and Fathers-4-Justice have focused on child-custody laws.

In Pennsylvania, the battle has centered on a proposed policy called “presumption of joint custody.”

The proposal would require custody cases to begin with the legal presumption that the parents are entitled to joint custody.

“Unless there is an unfit parent, a parent shouldn’t have to fight to see their own child,” said Jeffrey Dick of West Mifflin, a board member with the Pennsylvania chapter of Fathers-4-Justice.

Cognetti, however, pointed out that “many presumptions often lead to a not-thorough-enough review of a case being done.” She added that a presumption becomes much harder to overcome, “and it almost gives the court a basis not to look at each case individually.”

Downtown attorney Jay A. Blechman, past president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, agrees.

“Custody should always be determined on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Cognetti said the proposed policy, however, wouldn’t help good fathers.

“Whenever I represent a good dad, I want to go in and get primary custody for him. I don’t want to get shared custody. If you have a presumption, it could be hard to overcome, and your good dad is not helped,” said the Camp Hill attorney.

A custody bill by Rep. Kathy Manderino, D-Philadelphia, which unanimously passed the House on Monday, doesn’t include a presumption policy.

Manderino wants the courts to “ensure that both parents are treated equally” by ignoring gender in custody cases.

“Both parents — when fit, willing and able — should share in raising a child, even after separation or divorce. This legislation would make that concept the cornerstone of Pennsylvania’s child-custody law,” Manderino said.

Other measures include requiring judges to give written explanations of custody decisions; requiring parents in contested cases to put proposed parenting plans in writing; allowing for the appointment of a children’s attorney; and identifying factors to be weighed in custody decisions.

Rep. Bob Belfanti, D-Northumberland County, said the bill doesn’t go far enough. But legislation he sponsored — which includes a presumption policy — has failed to generate enough legislative support.

Thomas Tessaro of Franklin Park, a board member with the local National Congress for Fathers and Children chapter, said Manderino’s bill “does nothing to stop fathers from being excluded from the lives of their kids.”

He said federal statistics show Pennsylvania mothers win custody 75 percent of the time. Joint custody is awarded in 10.8 percent of the cases. Fathers win custody in 8.2 percent of the cases.

Two local attorneys said most measures in Manderino’s bill are standard practice in Allegheny County.

“The bill is simply taking what is common law and making it statutory, so it would be simply a continuation of the work being done here,” Blechman said.

Attorney Carol McCarthy agrees.

“Equally shared custody can only work if parents can work cooperatively together. That’s what creates problems for kids — the state of friction between their parents,” she said.

“And the case law is clear — it’s all about the children’s best interests, not about the parents.”

Divorced fathers raise voices for full measure of parental rights – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Wreckless State Governments – “Suppress and Capitalize” – CNN iReport

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Childrens Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on February 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Wreckless State Governments – “Suppress and Capitalize”

18 hours ago | Knoxville, Tennessee | Vetting explained

Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile Posted by:
xzxeddiexzx

    iReport —

    The Law Perverted! Child Support and Politicians alike have taken the  position of Marxist Principal in the Freeworld by dominating and exploiting the  working class. Made to perform more labor than is necessary.

    Alienation-denotes  the estrangement of people from their humanity.

    Child Support has nothing to do  with justice, it is a panoply of plundered pops, and overwhelmingly now more  than ever, Child Support is a regime whereby a father is forced to finance the  filching of his own children.

    What is most striking is that this witch hunt of  zealots has come entirely from government officials. No public outcry ever  preceded these measures. The public never demanded that the government take  action, nor has any public discussion of this alleged problem ever been held in  the national or local media.

    Needless to say the voices of pursued parents are seldom heard amid the  chorus of condemnation. The bipartisan certainty of their guilt is sufficient to  set aside their right to trial and declare them public enemies by general  acclaim. Yet there is reason to believe that this problem is an optical illusion  and that what is being portrayed as irresponsible fathers is in reality a  massive abuse of government power.

    In recent years, a few cracks have appeared  in the monolith. William Comanor writes that “child-support obligations” the  only form of “obligation” or “debt” that most of the debtors have done nothing  to incur- “are now treated far more harshly than any other form of debt.”  Attorney Ron Henry characterizes the system “as an obvious sham” a “disaster,”  and “the most onerous form of debt collection practiced in the United States.”  “The overwhelming majority of so-called ‘deadbeat dads’ are judicially created,”  says another attorney. “Why all this talk about so-called ‘deadbeat dads’?  Because there is a lot of money to be made through that myth.”

    When one begins to research the objective data and the research of  independent scholars, it turns out that the problem is mostly the creation of  government officials. In fact the myth of deadbeat dad has already been  discredited conclusively by Sanford Braver and other scholars. We have already  seen that few married or not married fathers seldom voluntarily abandon their  children. Beyond this Braver has also shown that little scientific basis exists  for claims that large numbers of fathers are not paying child support. Braver  found that government claims of nonpayment were derived not from any compiled  database or hard figures but entirely from surveys of mothers, and these alone,  in setting enforcement policy against fathers, and no effort is made to balance  them with surveys of non-custodial parents. Yet Braver found that fathers  overwhelmingly do pay court-ordered child support when they are employed, often  at enormous personal sacrifice.


    STATE REVENUE VIA CHILD SUPPORT

    A look at government machinery reveals that it was created not in response to  claims of widespread nonpayment but before them, and that it was less a response  to “deadbeat dads” than a mechanism to create them. Like new divorce laws (and  shortly after their enactment), the child-support regulations and criminal  enforcement machinery were created while few were paying attention.

    Under pressure from bar associations and feminist groups, President Gerald  Ford signed legislation creating the Office of Child Support Enforcement in  1975, warning at the time that it constituted unwarranted federal intrusion into  families and the role of states. Contrary to professions of concern “for the  children,” the principal purpose was never to provide for abandoned or  impoverished children but to recoup welfare costs for the government. In fact,  no study has ever been undertaken by the Department of Health and Human  Services, Congress, or any branch of government to explain the reason for the  agency’s existence.

    Almost immediately the program began to expand exponentially, increasing  tenfold from 1978 to 1998. The massive growth of law-enforcement machinery and  reach was federally driven. In 1984, the Child Support Enforcement amendment to  the Social Security Act required states to adopt child support guidelines. The  legislation was promoted by the OCSE itself and by private collection  companies—again less to help children than to save the government money under  the theory that it would help get single-mother families off of welfare by  making fathers pay more. Because most unpaid child support is due to  unemployment, and because most “non-custodial parents of AFDC [welfare] children  do not earn enough to pay as much child support as their children are already  receiving in AFDC benefits,” according to researchers Irwin Garfinkel and Sara  McLanahan, higher child-support guidelines could not help these children.

    Then, with no explanation or justification (or constitutional authority),  guidelines and criminal enforcement machinery conceived and created to address  the minority of children in poverty were extended, under pressure from OCSE and  other interests, to all child-support orders, even the majority not receiving  welfare, by the Family Support Act of 1988.

    This vastly enlarged the program and  transformed a welfare provision into an entitlement. Today welfare cases,  consisting mostly of unmarried parents account for only 17 percent of all  child-support cases, and the proportion is shrinking. The remaining 83 percent  of non-welfare cases consist largely of previously married fathers who are  usually divorced involuntarily and who generally can be counted on to pay. With  wage withholding, “the number of dollars passing through the government  collection system exploded,” mostly from non-welfare cases for which the system  was never designed, which currently accounts for 92 percent of the money  collected.

    The 1988 law also made the guidelines presumptive and, for all practical  purposes, compulsory. By one estimate the new guidelines more than doubled the  size of awards. Yet that point was already known among policy makers and  scholars that, with the exception of the relatively small number of poor and  unemployed fathers, no serious problem on nonpayment existed. Not only was  Braver presenting the results of his research, but a federal pilot study  commissioned four years earlier by OCSE itself was published with similar  findings. Originally the full-scale government-sponsored study was planned to  follow up the pilot, but that was quashed by the OCSE when the pilots findings  threatened the justification for the agencies existence by demonstrating that  non-payment of child support was not a serious problem. The Congressional  Research Service also concluded at about the same time that no serious problem  existed.

    Promoted as a program that would reduce government spending, federal  child-support enforcement has incurred a continuously increasing deficit. “The  overall financial impact of the child-support program on taxpayers is negative,”  the House Ways and Means Committee reports. Taxpayers lost $2.7 billion in  2002.

    This money does not vanish. It ends up in the pockets and coffers of state  officials, for whom it constitutes a lucrative source of revenue and income.  “Most states make a profit on their child-support program,” according to Ways  and Means, which notes that “States are free to spend this profit in any manner  the State sees fit.”

    In other words, federal taxpayers (who were supposed to  save money) subsidize state government operations through child-support. This  also transforms family courts from impartial tribunals into revenue-generating  engines for the state government.

    In addition to penalties and interest, states profit through federal  incentive payments based on the amount collected, as well as receiving 66  percent of operating costs and 90 percent of computer costs. (When two states  collaborate, both states qualify for the incentive payment as if each state had  collected 100 percent of the money.) Federal outlays of almost $3.5 billion in  2002 allowed Ohio to collect $228 million and California to collect $640  million. “There is a $200 million per year motive driving this system” in  Michigan alone, attorney Michael Tindall points out. “It dances at the strings  of federal money.”

    To collect these funds states must channel payments through their criminal  enforcement machinery, further criminalizing involuntarily divorced parents and  allowing the government to claim its perennial crackdowns are increasing  collections despite the program operating at an increasing loss. In January  2000, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala announced that “the federal and state  child-support enforcement program broke new records in nationwide collections in  fiscal year 1999, reaching $15.5 billion, nearly doubling the amount collected  in 1992.” Yet these figures are not what they appear.

    In simple accounting terms, the General Accounting Office, which appears at  face value all the official HHS assumptions and data for what is “legally owed  but unpaid,” found that as a percentage of what it claims is owed, collections  actually decreased during this period. “In fiscal year 1996, collections  represented 21 percent of the total amount due but dropped to 17 percent of the  total amount due in fiscal year 2000,” writes GAO? “As a result the amount owed  at the end of the period is greater than the amount owed at the beginning of the  period.”

    These facts are gathered from a book published by Cumberland House Publishing  Inc. The Title is Taken Into Custody- The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the  Family. By Stephen Baskerville For the sole purpose to stir up concern for  rights of people.

    ((Something needs to be done.))

    Below is contributed by: xzxeddiexzx CNN  I-Reporter

    While the states claim they have increased the collections of unpaid child support. It does not use the actually collected figures. It only relies on the documented back child support claims of over inflated arrears unconstitutionally delivered to the non-custodial parents.

    So the weight of supporting the entire welfare system lands on the backs of a selected group of American citizens that are in turn refused and denied Equal Justice under the law. They are refused the fundamental right to due process and in most cases are limited in the relationship with their very own natural and biological children.

    During this new economic downturn, this very method of miscalculated, mishandled Judiciary infringement of civil and constitutional law on only a select group of society is nothing short of modern day slavery and discrimination from the Governing bodies unto the citizen taxpayers in a bias approach to assault one gender over the other. Putting parents of the children involved, at war destroying the foundation the children rely on and need to become productive members of society.

    Instead of the system finding common ground and exercising equal justice under the law. They infringe on the civil and constitutional rights of a singled out group primarily (men). But cases such as mine has the female gender in the non-custodial position. But all the literature given by the State funded agencies are bias.

    Painting the male gender with a bad brush. The literature does not use the terms when talking of the noncustodial parent (He / She) or (Mother / Father) etc.

    It plainly says if you are having problems collecting money from HIM. We can garnish HIS wages. Issue a offset on HIS tax returns or any state funded monies.

    So you see the biasness? You see how someone in my position of a unwed father with primary residential custody would find this issue insulting and discriminatory?

    When will society understand that one of the primary reasons we are having the economic crisis we as a society are having today has been because of States like Tennessee that have violated public trust in a attempt to cover up the lavish spending on private and personal items on the the taxpayers money, while using the child support systems as their own personal bailout program. This is why we have the over inflated arrearages set in child support cases against the weakest party that does not have the same rights to the judiciary process as the favored party that helps them generate the funds to run the scam on society.

    This is totally unconstitutional and attacks the civil liberties of a singled out group that are suppressed by not being awarded the rights that is awarded to the side that the States have taken up interest in. Which is the custodial parents because they are working together to extort money from the federal government while hiding behind the statue in the child’s best interest. These proceedings have nothing to do with the child’s interest at all. It is only the interest of the state to take any measure to fund their practice of over spending the tax dollars.

    Why should we allow as a society any group to be singled out and destroyed while the evidence is clear that they would violate your rights if they stood a chance to gain a dollar from doing so.

    So today it is the child support issue and once they see that they do not meet any challenge in this matter they will focus on other subjects within our communities.

    I would love to hear some input about this very important issue that effects all of us citizens that pay taxes or have children of our own.

    Do we not deserve to have a fair balanced Justice system?

    Do we not owe our children equal protection and both parents ?

    Do you think a selected group should be singled out and violated by a government either state , local or federal?

    The sums they calculate for the retroactive support orders also take into account the elderly on the welfare system. I personally think that the taxes we all pay covers the cost for them to have the coverage they need. I also think that both parents should be held to 50% of the costs involved with raising the children.

    If this means that the woman that retains custody can not be a full time stay at home mom because she would also have to work and fund her fair share of the obligation then there needs to be provisions that their would be shared time with the child between each others job requirements.

    It took two people to create the child and bring it into this world. If they was not prepared then they both have to work harder in order to become prepared and supportive to the obligation to the child.

    There are other models and methods that would be more beneficial to the child and the family structure but the government would not want to lend a ear to the results because they would not be able to manipulate the taxpayers and profit while lying to the general public and the facts about the fairness and constitutional upholding within the organized crime ring supported by the states via federal funding while the municipalities fall out of compliance with the federal rules and regulations set forth, and continue to collect the federal dollars as if they were complying…

    Embedded Corruption has the Economy in greater risk of crashing. The mishandling of the critical tax dollars that so many are reliant upon are in jeopardy if reform measures are not take swiftly in this area of government corruption to restore equality unto it’s people that it is suppose to protect and serve equally without bias agendas.

    The following link leads to the Social Security Administrations investigation into this very matter. The findings are correct and accurate but have increased since the study was conducted in 2006 before the economy imploded.

    http://www.laryholland.com/ssacse/

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    Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile xzxeddiexzx

    57 minutes ago

    Oh why so defensive? Did I strike a nerve?

    Child support issues should never be about a GENDER!

    I am taking her to court for the federal Identity theft charges and many other criminal charges. It has been a long time coming, but I am committed to seeing it through to…

    Read more …

    Click to view Geonite's  profile Geonite

    1 hour ago

    Thentake the mother to court. For every deadbeat mother there are several deadbeat fathers. Your report is biased by your own personal experience.

    As the sole custodial parent of your child you should learn to spell.

    Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile xzxeddiexzx

    1 hour ago

    SAD but when you file for Child Support. You waive your right as a parent. You place the child’s needs at the mercy of the greedy self serving Government Agencies that place your child’s basic needs last on the list of priorities.

    The state is more focused on generating revenue for the general fund by jailing as many non-custodial parents…

    Read more …

    Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile xzxeddiexzx

    2 hours ago

    Studies show statistics show a 70% increase of MOTHERS losing custody due to DRUG AND ALCOHOL dependency and neglect and abandonment of the child’s needs.

    You can sit here and be bias all you want but the truth is coming out. The facts show that there is just as many women neglecting their families as there are men doing the same.

    Read more …

    Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile xzxeddiexzx

    2 hours ago

    Geonite,

    You have the wrong idea! I AM THE SOUL CUSTODIAL PARENT. The child lives with me 100% of the time and I take really good care of her needs.

    The biological MOTHER does not want to pay her responsibility to the child. She has also used my daughter SS# on her…

    Read more …

    Click to view Geonite's  profile Geonite

    4 hours ago

    Few fathers ditch their children? Ridiculous!!!! See how many women a day file for child support because the man won’t pay.

    Whatever the reason is, there’s no reason for a parent to not pay for their childrens needs. I don’t care if it’s foster care or their care. Children need to be fed and clothed and sent to school. Either way it costs…

    Read more …

    Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile xzxeddiexzx

    11 hours ago

    With job losses by measured by the millions and increasing daily. Do we really need to be stereotyping a entire class of citizens because of lack of employment options and a weak sufficient minimum wage with the cost of living keeps raising?

    Do we really need to suppress the rights of a individual in order to empower one gender over the…

    Read more …

    Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile xzxeddiexzx

    12 hours ago

    Or mothers, But the arrears that is set so high in courts go tot he General fund. Not the children involved….

    They make parents criminals because of this very fact..

    Click to view WIparent's  profile WIparent

    15 hours ago

    Most of the debtors have done nothing to incur? Really, how did they become fathers, then?

    Click to view  xzxeddiexzx's profile xzxeddiexzx

    17 hours ago

    Click to view  TheVideoMan's profile TheVideoMan

    18 hours ago

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    Wreckless State Governments – “Suppress and Capitalize” – CNN iReport.

    Australian Dads ‘not entitled to shared parenting’ | Herald Sun

    In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, parental rights, Parents rights on January 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    SEPARATED fathers are not entitled to a 50-50 time split with their children, and legislation introduced by the Howard government in 2006 should be amended to make that clear, a report says.

    A 300-report by retired family court judge Richard Chisholm recommends five changes to the so-called “shared parenting” law, which he described as a “tangle” that had taken the focus off “what is best for the children,” The Australian reports.

    The hotly anticipated Chisholm report, which was ordered by Attorney-General Robert McClelland after the shocking death of Melbourne girl Darcey Freeman, who was thrown to her death from the West Gate Bridge last year, says the shared parenting law has made it difficult for women to raise allegations of violence in the Family Court system.

    A separate, 1000-page report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, also released this afternoon, says the majority of lawyers now believe that the 2006 reforms favour fathers over mothers, and parents over children.

    The two reports into shared parenting – plus a third report, by the Family Law Council – were released simultaneously by Mr McClelland this afternoon.

    Mr McClelland said the Government would review all reports before making changes but agreed that a false idea had taken hold in the community that fathers were entitled to a 50-50 time split.

    “How we address that is what we’ve now got to decide,” he said.

    Read more about the released reports at The Australian.

    Dads ‘not entitled to shared parenting’ | Herald Sun.

    Fathers-4-Justice Sault Ste. Marie: Ontario Children’s Aid and Misandry

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Feminism, Fit Parent, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Marriage, Michael Murphy, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Single Parenting on January 25, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Ontario Children’s Aid and Misandry

    Many men will attest to have seen a bias by CAS Protective Workers who are, it would appear, 95% female and some stridently feminist in their ideology. I can certainly speak to it, and can also say the local Algoma CAS and its sister organization Algoma Family Services, who deal with child mental health issues, have both shown me they care little about fathers. In one case a worker completely ignored my requests for help on the telephone and declared a conflict of interest so she could get out of providing service to me. I went over her head and finally got a supervisor to do her job.MJM

    By Susan Longley


    Please note concerns regarding  upcoming Ontario conference. (see OACAS web site).

    A frightening trend in North American child welfare practice  is the growing alliance between child welfare services and those promoting anti violence against women (i.e. VAW sector).

    This alliance has resulted in an increased denigration of male parents and general deterioration in efforts to address the best interests of children. The deeply rooted gender biased ideology of the latter sector remains deeply troubling and in complete  contradiction to male parents attempts to engage with child welfare services involved with their  children. This concern needs to be urgently addressed, partly to maintain service integrity but also to maintain an ethical stance towards families in general.

    Male parents are frequently already marginalized from participating in services for their children. There is now an  increased propensity to isolate men even more so from their children’s lives. There remains a blatant contradiction between child welfare services who adopt the polemic and platitudes of the VAW sector. The child welfare mandate remains to enhance family life VAW sector is completely contradictory and opposed to such values.

    It has become recently popular for child welfare services and VAW services to adopt certain kinds of inter agency protocols. These protocols are an embarrassment to child welfare practice in Canada. Blatantly unprofessional and academically dishonest theses protocols reflect misandric nonsense rather than legitimate protocol. These so called protocols must be abandoned and exposed for what they are. There are least two CASs in the Toronto region (see Peel CAS protocol with VAW sector)) have adopted such protocols. These agencies are allegedly family service agencies with no endorsement to promote such anti male rhetoric.

    A review of these protocols disclose an incredulous gender bias which can only be described as sexism of the worst order. These professionally distasteful protocols are  written in total sympathy with VAW expectations with no accountability to the general public or their respective agency mandates. They contradict not only good social work practice but remain contradictory  to ethical guidelines established by their governing body  OASW.

    These so-called protocols allege to address issues related to inter agency service provision and cooperation between public agencies but are in fact nothing more than an ideological treatise intended to alienate men further from appropriate child welfare practice.

    These protocols refuse to acknowledges domestic violence in families other than that of men against women. Women remain the perpetual victim and men always the perpetrator. Any mention of domestic violence refuses to acknowledge  women ‘s violence against men. Programmes sponsored by child welfare services for children exposed to domestic violence ultimately define the perpetrator as male.

    These protocols never hold women accountable for any acts of child abuse or inter personal violence. The identification of child abuse only mentioned in regard to men.  Any child welfare programmes delivered to “children exposed to family violence” refer to men only. Women are never identified as initiators of any domestic violence even when a so-called family agency is involved.

    The suggestion that women may make false complaints regarding domestic violence in order to gain an upper hand on custody and access matters is not acknowledged. That women may fabricate or even lie is considered anathema.  The fact that women account for the majority of child abuse in not even mentioned. That VAW services and child welfare services advocate becoming increasingly involved in controversial custody and access matters remains extremely repugnant. The suggestion that child welfare services become more intrusive regarding access arrangements between children and their fathers is an outright abomination.

    Please find a copy of a recent letter sent to Jeanette Lewis, Director of  the provincial OACAS (see web site) outlining my concerns regarding an anticipated conference involving Provincial Child Welfare Services and Violence Against Women Services. The purported agenda is to build understanding and cooperation between the two sectors. My cynical view, as previously suggested, indicates an alternate agenda. The VAW sector is given a further opportunity to impose a particular ideological gender politic on child welfare services.

    “I notice with trepidation an anticipated 2010 Toronto conference co sponsored by Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies , The Ontario Women’s Directorate and various Violence Against Women programmes. The theme of the conference being the “Intersection of Women Abuse and Child Welfare Services.”

    I was immediately troubled by the tone and wording of the conference details included in the call for papers especially given the propensity for child welfare services in Ontario and in general North America, to adopt a value preference embracing the practice of a certain feminist political and ideological agenda. A social work practice that has increasingly marginalized services to men and boys and a priori assumptions regarding male perpetrators and female victims.

    I have outlined a few  of my concerns.
    As many researchers have pointed out gender feminist theory has its limitations and family service agencies in particular must always be ethically accountable in providing services to both men and women especially where “best interests” of children are involved. One can already anticipate the usual presenters invited to provide discourse at such matters. It would be extremely naive to expect genuine debate or rational presentation between the sectors involved.  I will assume the usual feminist rhetoric and platitudes will rule the day.

    Some academic  integrity needs to be maintained  and that the conference must reject any ideological and gender biased, misandric unbalanced research which has tended to place a certain anti male spin on issues related to woman abuse, child custody and other such politically charged issues.

    There has been a long term feminist advocacy in this province (highlighted in proposals of the provincial domestic violence death review  panel and its recommendations ) to have child welfare services acquiesce to the values and political ideology of the violence against women sector.

    This is viewed by many as a regressive and extremely ill advised road to go down. It is appears regressive for child welfare services in general, especially since their services have already become suspect for aligning themselves with principles that reject a family orientation and men in particular. Any child welfare services must be dispensed with fairness and remain gender neutral in practice.

    I am concerned that any dialogue between CAS and VAW sectors becomes a mere “smoke screen” for advocating CAS become more feminized in their social work practice at the expense of academic and social work integrity. Not that the two sectors cannot collaborate on occasion and cooperate when appropriate in providing in shared client advocacy.


    It seems vital and important to acknowledge the value differences between the two sectors and reject the propensity to gloss over the obvious political and ideological conflicts. It is imperative that these conflicts be clearly acknowledged and identified. This remains especially so in reference to mutual  protocols regarding advocacy and support of woman’s issues especially those issues related to custody access and the interaction between service providers regarding male clients and families in general .  It appears to me that the mandates of  the two sectors are severely different and are grounded in often opposed ideological principals. Just a few issues regarding the two sectors come to mind.

    Definitions of Abuse and Victimization:

    More stringent definition of abuse and victimization in general are required by both sectors. The CAS social workers remain accountable not only to the clients, the best interest of the child but also the court system especially when wards of the court are involved. What is considered abuse in the VAW sector cannot always be validated in the CAS sector.


    CAS are obliged to involve male fathers and partners regardless if they have been identified as so called perpetrators or offenders.

    Validation

    The feminist principle of “validating” the “stories” of violence against women and children has always been troublesome for social workers in the CAS sector. Not to deny supportive advocacy for all clients (a basic social work value)  CAS social workers have always had to depend on not only “clients narratives” but also collaboration efforts to seek alternate sources of  information. The VAW sector do not require such gender neutral language of exploration and context for service. It appears that a higher standard of accountability and transparency is required.

    Gender Bias / Male Clients and Partners:

    Gender biased practice has been generally the order of the day. Given the long history of feminist advocacy many would argue that CAS have acquiesced far to willingly to certain  feminist theory at the expense of gender neutral practice. This must be recognised and the matter dealt with in an honest and forthright manner. Children’s best interest require addressing issues with both parents where possible.

    CAS social workers when in court regarding children’s interests must prove that they have attempted involved both parents (and even other partners as defined as parents ) Fathers and or partners in a parenting role can never be ignored in CAS social work. The issues regarding custody and access assessments during divorce remains a highly contentious one, as do the issues related to counselling of couples where violence has occurred. Protocols regarding children’s access to both parents where domestic violence is disputed also remains highly contentious. These issues must be debated within the reality of both male and female experience.

    Academic Research and Domestic Violence Findings:

    The academic literature regarding domestic violence has and continues to be long dominated by a certain type of feminist ideology and both the  CAS and VAW sectors have been very much influenced in their practice by certain political views. This must change. The literature is much more divergent in findings and recommendations for practice than previously acknowledged. This is particularly so when discussing woman abuse and domestic violence. The divergent literature has always been available but to many practitioners who accepted certain dissident views were quickly rejected ostracized or threatened.

    A modest appeal to Richard Gelles article January 2007 Family Court Review sums up these concerns regarding academic integrity with succinct clarity. Need I mention Don Dutton’s “Rethinking Domestic Violence.”


    These are some of my concerns regarding the two sectors having authentic dialogue. This can only be achieved with honesty and respect. Some would also claim an appeal to rational discourse mixed with a modicum of intellectual integrity can also help.

    Regards Susan

    Fathers-4-Justice Sault Ste. Marie: Ontario Children’s Aid and Misandry.

    Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Fit Parent, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on January 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm
    Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary | Print | E-mail
    Written by Stephen Baskerville
    Thursday, 07 January 2010 00:00
    //

    proseutionLiberals rightly criticize America’s high rate of incarceration. Claiming to be the freest country on Earth, the United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than Iran or Syria. Over two million people, or nearly one in 50 adults, excluding the elderly, are incarcerated, the highest proportion in the world. Some seven million Americans, or 3.2 percent, are under penal supervision.

    Many are likely to be innocent. In The Tyranny of Good Intentions (2000), Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence Stratton document how due process protections are routinely ignored, grand juries are neutered, frivolous prosecutions abound, and jury trials are increasingly rare. More recently, in Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (2009), Harvey Silverglate shows how federal prosecutors are criminalizing more and more of the population. “Innocence projects” — projects of “a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing” — attest that people are railroaded into prison. As we will see, incarcerations without trial are now routine.

    The U.S. prison population has risen dramatically in the last four decades. Ideologically, the rise is invariably attributed to “law-and-order” conservatives, who indeed seldom deny their own role (or indifference). In fact, few conservatives understand what they are defending.

    Conservatives who rightly decry “judicial activism” in civil law are often blind to the connected perversion of criminal justice. While a politicized judiciary does free the guilty, it also criminalizes the -innocent.

    But traditionalists upholding law and order were not an innovation of the 1970s. A newer and more militant force helped create the “carceral state.” In The Prison and the Gallows (2006), feminist scholar Marie Gottschalk points out that traditional conservatives were not the prime instigators, and blames “interest groups and social movements not usually associated with penal conservatism.” Yet she names only one: “the women’s movement.”

    While America’s criminalization may have a number of contributing causes, it coincides precisely with the rise of organized feminism. “The women’s movement became a vanguard of conservative law-and-order politics,” Gottschalk writes. “Women’s organizations played a central role in the consolidation of this conservative victims’ rights movement that emerged in the 1970s.”

    Gottschalk then twists her counterintuitive finding to condemn “conservatives” for the influx, portraying feminists as passive victims without responsibility. “Feminists prosecuting the war on rape and domestic violence” were somehow “captured and co-opted by the law-and-order agenda of politicians, state officials, and conservative groups.” Yet nothing indicates that feminists offered the slightest resistance to this political abduction.

    Feminists, despite Gottschalk’s muted admission of guilt, did lead the charge toward wholesale incarceration. Feminist ideology has radicalized criminal justice and eroded centuries-old constitutional protections: New crimes have been created; old crimes have been redefined politically; the distinction between crime and private behavior has been erased; the presumption of innocence has been eliminated; false accusations go unpunished; patently innocent people are jailed without trial. “The new feminist jurisprudence hammers away at some of the most basic foundations of our criminal law system,” Michael Weiss and Cathy Young write in a Cato Institute paper. “Chief among them is the presumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.”

    Feminists and other sexual radicals have even managed to influence the law to target conservative groups themselves. Racketeering statutes are marshaled to punish non-violent abortion demonstrators, and “hate crimes” laws attempt to silence critics of the homosexual agenda. Both are supported by “civil liberties” groups. And these are only the most notorious; there are others.

    Feminists have been the most authoritarian pressure group throughout much of American history. “It is striking what an uncritical stance earlier women reformers took toward the state,” Gottschalk observes. “They have played central roles in … uncritically pushing for more enhanced policing powers.”

    What Gottschalk is describing is feminism’s version of Stalinism: the process whereby radical movements commandeer the instruments of state repression as they trade ideological purity for power.

    Path to Prison
    The first politicized crime was rape. Suffragettes advocated castrating rapists. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who opposed it for everyone else, wanted rapists executed.

    Aggressive feminist lobbying in the legislatures and courts since the 1970s redefined rape to make it indistinguishable from consensual sex. Over time, a woman no longer had to prove that she was forced to have non-consensual sex, but a man had to prove that sex was consensual (or prove that no sex had, in fact, happened). Non-consent was gradually eliminated as a definition, and consent became simply a mitigating factor for the defense. By 1989, the Washington State Supreme Court openly shifted the burden of proving consent to the defendant when it argued that the removal of legislative language requiring non-consent for rape “evidences legislative intent to shift the burden of proof on the issue to the defense” and approved this blatantly unconstitutional presumption of guilt. The result, write Weiss and Young, was not “to jail more violent rapists — lack of consent is easy enough for the state to prove in those cases — but to make it easier to send someone to jail for failing to get an explicit nod of consent from an apparently willing partner before engaging in sex.”

    Men accused of rape today enjoy few safeguards. “People can be charged with virtually no evidence,” says Boston former sex-crimes prosecutor Rikki Klieman. “If a female comes in and says she was sexually assaulted, then on her word alone, with nothing else — and I mean nothing else, no investigation — the police will go out and arrest someone.”

    Almost daily we see men released after decades in prison because DNA testing proves they were wrongly convicted. Yet the rape industry is so powerful that proof of innocence is no protection. “A defendant who can absolutely prove his innocence … can nonetheless still be convicted, based solely on the word of the accuser,” write Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson in Until Proven Innocent. In North Carolina, simply “naming the person accused” along with the time and place “will support a verdict of guilty.” Crime laboratories are notorious for falsifying results to obtain convictions.

    The feminist dogma that “women never lie” goes largely unchallenged. “Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes,” says Craig Silverman, a former Colorado prosecutor known for zealous prosecutions. Purdue University sociologist Eugene Kanin found that “41% of the total disposed rape cases were officially declared false” during a nine-year period, “that is, by the complainant’s admission that no rape had occurred.” Kanin discovered three functions of false accusations: “providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention.” The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) adds that “false rape accusations also have been filed to extort money from celebrities, to gain sole custody of children in divorce cases, and even to escape military deployments to war zones.”

    In the infamous Duke University lacrosse case, prosecutor Michael Nifong suppressed exculpating evidence and prosecuted men he knew to be innocent, according to Taylor and Johnson. Nifong himself was eventually disbarred, but he had willing accomplices among assistant prosecutors, police, crime lab technicians, judges, the bar, and the media. “Innocent men are arrested and even imprisoned as a result of bogus claims,” writes Linda Fairstein, former head of the sex-crimes unit for the Manhattan District Attorney, who estimates that half of all reports are unfounded.

    Innocence projects are almost wholly occupied with rape cases (though they try to disguise this fact). Yet no systematic investigation has been undertaken by the media or civil libertarians into why so many innocent citizens are so easily incarcerated on fabricated allegations. The exoneration of the Duke students on obviously trumped-up charges triggered few investigations — and no official ones — to determine how widespread such rigged justice is against those unable to garner media attention.

    The world of rape accusations displays features similar to other feminist gender crimes: media invective against the accused, government-paid “victim advocates” to secure convictions, intimidation of anyone who defends the accused. “Nobody dependent on the mainstream media for information about rape would have any idea how frequent false claims are,” write Taylor and Johnson. “Most journalists simply ignore evidence contradicting the feminist line.” What they observe of rape characterizes feminist justice generally: “calling a rape complainant ‘the victim’ — with no ‘alleged’.” “Unnamed complainants are labeled ‘victims’ even before legal proceedings determine that a crime has been committed,” according to CMR.

    Rape hysteria, false accusations, and distorted scholarship are rampant on university campuses, which ostensibly exist to pursue truth. “If a woman did falsely accuse a man of rape,” opines one “women’s studies” graduate, “she may have had reasons to. Maybe she wasn’t raped, but he clearly violated her in some way.” This mentality pervades feminist jurisprudence, precluding innocence by obliterating the distinction between crime and hurt feelings. A Vassar College assistant dean believes false accusations foster men’s education: “I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration.… ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’”

    Conservative critics of the Duke fiasco avoided feminism’s role but instead emphasized race — a minor feature of the case but a safer one to criticize. Little evidence indicates that white people are being systematically incarcerated on fabricated accusations of non-existent crimes against blacks. This is precisely what is happening to men, both white and black, accused of rape and other “gender” crimes that feminists have turned into a political agenda.

    The Kobe Bryant case demonstrates that a black man accused by a white woman is also vulnerable. Historically, this was the more common pattern. Our race-conscious society is conditioned to remember lynching as a racial atrocity, forgetting that the lynched were usually black men accused by white women. Feminist scholars spin this as “the dominant white male ideology behind lynching … that white womanhood was in need of protection against black men,” suggesting fantastically that white “patriarchy” used rape accusations to break up a progressive political romance developing between black men and white women. With false rape accusations, the races have changed, but the sexes have remained constant.

    Violent Lies
    “Domestic violence” is an even more purely political crime. “The battered-women’s movement turned out to be even more vulnerable to being co-opted by the state and conservative penal forces,” writes Gottschalk, again with contortion. Domestic violence groups are uniformly feminist, not “conservative,” though here too conservatives have enabled feminists to exchange principles for power.

    Like rape, domestic “violence” is defined so loosely that it need not be violent. The U.S. Justice Department definition includes “extreme jealousy and possessiveness” and “name calling and constant criticizing.” For such “crimes” men are jailed with no trial. In fact, the very category of “domestic” violence was developed largely to circumvent due process requirements of conventional assault statutes. A study published in Criminology and Public Policy found that no one accused of domestic violence could be found innocent, since every arrestee received punishment.

    Here, too, false accusations are rewarded. “Women lie every day,” attests Ottawa Judge Dianne Nicholas. “Every day women in court say, ‘I made it up. I’m lying. It didn’t happen’ — and they’re not charged.” Amazingly, bar associations sponsor seminars instructing women how to fabricate accusations. Thomas Kiernan, writing in the New Jersey Law Journal, expressed his astonishment at “the number of women attending the seminars who smugly — indeed boastfully — announced that they had already sworn out false or grossly exaggerated domestic violence complaints against their hapless husbands, and that the device worked!” He added, “The lawyer-lecturers invariably congratulated the self-confessed miscreants.”

    Domestic violence has become “a backwater of tautological pseudo-theory,” write Donald Dutton and Kenneth Corvo in Aggression and Violent Behavior. “No other area of established social welfare, criminal justice, public health, or behavioral intervention has such weak evidence in support of mandated practice.” Scholars and practitioners have repeatedly documented how “allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage” in custody cases and “become part of the gamesmanship of divorce.” Domestic abuse has become “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and injustice,” according to the Rutgers Law Review.

    Restraining orders removing men from their homes and children are summarily issued without any evidence. Due process protections are so routinely ignored that, the New Jersey Law Journal reports, one judge told his colleagues, “Your job is not to become concerned about the constitutional rights of the man that you’re violating.” Attorney David Heleniak calls New Jersey’s statute “a due process fiasco” in the Rutgers Law Review. New Jersey court literature openly acknowledges that due process is ignored because it “perpetuates the cycle of power and control whereby the [alleged?] perpetrator remains the one with the power and the [alleged?] victim remains powerless.” Omitting “alleged” is standard even in statutes, where, the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports, “the mere allegation of domestic abuse … may shift the burden of proof to the defendant.”

    Special “integrated domestic violence courts” presume guilt and then, says New York’s openly feminist chief judge, “make batterers and abusers take responsibility for their actions.” They can seize property, including homes, without the accused being convicted or even formally charged or present to defend himself. Lawyer Walter Fox describes these courts as “pre-fascist”: “Domestic violence courts … are designed to get around the protections of the criminal code. The burden of proof is reduced or removed, and there’s no presumption of innocence.”

    Forced confessions are widespread. Pennsylvania men are incarcerated unless they sign forms stating, “I have physically and emotionally battered my partner.” The man must then describe the violence, even if he insists he committed none. “I am responsible for the violence I used,” the forms declare. “My behavior was not provoked.”

    Child-support Chokehold
    Equally feminist is the child-support machinery, whereby millions have their family finances plundered and their lives placed under penal supervision without having committed any legal infraction. Once they have nothing left to loot, they too are incarcerated without trial.

    Contrary to government propaganda (and Common Law tradition), child support today has little to do with fathers abandoning their children, deserting their marriages, or even agreeing to a divorce. It is automatically assessed on all non-custodial parents, even those involuntarily divorced without grounds (“no-fault”). It is an entitlement for all divorcing mothers, regardless of their actions, and coerced from fathers, regardless of their fidelity. The “deadbeat dad” is far less likely to be a man who abandoned the offspring he callously sired than to be a loving father who has been, as attorney Jed Abraham writes in From Courtship to Courtroom, “forced to finance the filching of his own children.”

    Federalized enforcement was rationalized to reimburse taxpayers for welfare. Under feminist pressure, taxpayers instead subsidize middle-class divorce, through federal payments to states based on the amount of child support they collect. By profiting off child support at federal taxpayer expense, state governments have a financial incentive to encourage as many single-mother homes as possible. They, in turn, encourage divorce with a guaranteed, tax-free windfall to any divorcing mother.

    While child support (like divorce itself) is awarded ostensibly without reference to “fault,” nonpayment brings swift and severe punishments. “The advocates of ever-more-aggressive measures for collecting child support,” writes Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University, “have moved us a dangerous step closer to a police state.” Abraham calls the machinery “Orwellian”: “The government commands … a veritable gulag, complete with sophisticated surveillance and compliance capabilities such as computer-based tracing, license revocation, asset confiscation, and incarceration.”

    Here, too, “the burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Like Kafka’s Joseph K., the “defendant” may not even know the charge against him, “if the court does not explicitly clarify the charge facing the [allegedly?] delinquent parent,” says NCSL. Further, “not all child support contempt proceedings classified as criminal are entitled to a jury trial,” and “even indigent obligors are not necessarily entitled to a lawyer.” Thus defendants must prove their innocence against unspecified accusations, without counsel, and without a jury.

    Assembly-line hearings can last 30 seconds to two minutes, during which parents are sentenced to months or years in prison. Many receive no hearing but are accused in an “expedited judicial process” before a black-robed lawyer known as a “judge surrogate.” Because these officials require no legislative confirmation, they are not accountable to citizens or their representatives. Unlike true judges, they may lobby to create the same laws they adjudicate, violating the separation of powers. Often they are political activists in robes. One surrogate judge, reports the Telegraph of Hudson, New Hampshire, simultaneously worked “as a radical feminist lobbying on proposed legislation” dealing with child support.

    Though governments sensationalize “roundups” of alleged “deadbeat dads,” who are jailed for months and even years without trial, no government information whatever is available on incarcerations. The Bureau of Justice Statistics is utterly silent on child-support incarcerations. Rebecca May of the Center for Family Policy and Practice found “ample testimony by low-income non-custodial parents of spending time in jail for the nonpayment of child support.” Yet she could find no documentation of their incarceration. Government literature “yields so little information on it that one might be led to believe that arrests were used rarely if at all. While May personally witnessed fathers sentenced in St. Louis, “We could find no explicit documentation of arrests in St. Louis.” In Illinois, “We observed courtrooms in which fathers appeared before the judge who were serving jail sentences for nonpayment, but little information was available on arrests in Illinois.”

    We know the arrests are extensive. To relieve jail overcrowding in Georgia, a sheriff and judge proposed creating detention camps specifically for “deadbeat dads.” The Pittsburgh City Planning Commission has considered a proposal “to convert a former chemical processing plant … into a detention center” for “deadbeat dads.”

    Rendered permanently in debt by incarceration, fathers are farmed out to trash companies and similar concerns, where they work 14-16 hour days with their earnings confiscated.

    More Malicious Mayhem
    Other incarcerations are also attributable to feminism. The vast preponderance of actual violent crime and substance abuse proceeds from single-parent homes and fatherless children more than any other factor, far surpassing race and poverty. The explosion of single parenthood is usually and resignedly blamed on paternal abandonment, with the only remedy being ever-more draconian but ineffective child-support “crackdowns.” Yet no evidence indicates that the proliferation of single-parent homes results from absconding fathers. If instead we accept that single motherhood is precisely what feminists say it is — the deliberate choice of their sexual revolution — it is then apparent that sexual liberation lies behind not only these newfangled sexual crimes, but also the larger trend of actual crime and incarceration. Feminism is driving both the criminalization of the innocent and the criminality of the guilty.

    We will continue to fight a losing battle against crime, incarceration, and expansive government power until we confront the sexual ideology that is driving not only family breakdown and the ensuing social anomie, but the criminalization of the male population. Ever-more-repressive penal measures will only further erode freedom. Under a leftist regime, conservatives must rethink their approach to crime and punishment and their unwitting collusion with America’s homegrown Stalinists.

    Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family.

    Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary.

    The Tieton Truth Seekers: Severely Alienated Child of Parental Alienation

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on January 3, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Severely Alienated Child of Parental Alienation

    Stage 3 – A Severely Alienated Child of Parental Alienation Syndrome

    The Honorable Judge Gomery of Canada stated, “Hatred is not an emotion that comes naturally to a child. It has to be taught. A parent who would teach a child to hate the other parent represents a grave and persistent danger to the mental and emotional health of that child.”

    A Severely Alienated Child of Parental Alienation Syndrome
    Severe

    In severe PAS the child is often fanatic or obsessional in his/her hatred of the target parent. For this reason alone the PAS-inducing parent no longer needs to be active, although the PAS–inducing parent will resort to anything to prevent the child maintaining a relationship with the targeted parent. The child takes on the PAS-inducing parent’s desires, emotions and hatreds and verbalises them all as its own. The child views the history of the targeted parent and the targeted parent’s family as all negative and is unable to either remember or express any positive feelings for the target parent.

    The child is very likely to refuse Contact, make false allegations of abuse, threaten to run away, threaten to commit suicide or even murder – if forced to see the targeted parent. The PAS-inducing parent will hold little or no value for the targeted parent and hatred may be completely overt. The child and the alienating parent have a pathological bond that is invariably based on shared paranoid fantasies of the targeted parent, sometimes to the point of folie a deux.

    What Does a Severely Alienated Child look like?

    They have a relentless hatred for towards the targeted parent.
    They parrot the Obsessed Alienator.
    The child does not want to visit or spend any time with the targeted parent.
    Many of the child’s beliefs are enmeshed with the alienator.
    The beliefs are delusional and frequently irrational.
    They are not intimidated by the court.

    Frequently, their reasons are not based on personal experiences with the targeted parent but reflect what they are told by the Obsessed Alienator.

    They have difficulty making any differentiate between the two.
    The child has no ambivalence in his feelings; it’s all hatred with no ability to see the good.

    They have no capacity to feel guilty about how they behave towards the targeted parent or forgive any past indiscretions.
    They share the Obsessed Alienators cause. Together, they are in lockstep to denigrate the hated parent.
    The children’s obsessional hatred extends to the targeted parent’s extended family without any guilt or remorse.
    They can appear like normal healthy children until asked about the targeted parent that triggers their hatred.
    Children in the severe category are generally quite disturbed and are usually fanatic. They join together with their alienating parent in a folie à deux relationship in which they share her paranoid fantasies about the alienated parent. All eight of the primary symptomatic manifestations are likely to be present to a significant degree, even more prominent than in the moderate category.

    Children in this category may become panic-stricken over the prospect of visiting with their alienated parent. Their blood-curdling shrieks, panicked states, and rage outbursts may be so severe that visitation is impossible.

    If placed in the alienated parent’s home they may run away, become paralyzed with morbid fear, or may become so continuously provocative and so destructive that removal becomes necessary. Unlike children in the moderate and mild categories, their panic and hostility may not be reduced in the alienated parent’s home, even when separated from their alienating parents for significant periods. Whereas in the mild and moderate categories the children’s primary motive is to strengthen the stronger, healthy psychological bond with the alienating parent, in the severe category the psychological bond with the alienating parent is pathological (often paranoid) and the symptoms serve to strengthen this pathological bond.

    The Tieton Truth Seekers: Severely Alienated Child of Parental Alienation.

    Ninth Circuit Gives Big Victory to Non-Custodial Father | Glenn Sacks on MND

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Glenn Sacks, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Protective Dads on November 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm
    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    By Robert Franklin, Esq.

    A case decided November 10, 2009 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could have an enormous impact on fathers’ rights to their children.  (Note: The case is not yet published, so I can’t provide a link to it.)  It holds that even a divorced father with no right of physical custody must be given the opportunity to have custody of his child before a child protective agency can place it in foster care.  Failure to do so by a county child protective agency can subject the county to a suit for damages by the father under the federal civil law governing deprivation of constitutional rights.

    To put it bluntly, this is a huge win for non-custodial parents.

    The opinion in Burke, et al vs. County of Alameda California, et al now governs everyone within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit which encompasses California, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Montana and the territories of Guam and the Northern Marianna Islands.  Unless overturned by the United States Supreme Court, Burke is binding precedent throughout the Ninth Circuit.

    The Ninth is the largest federal circuit and one of the most influential on the others.  Of course the opinion in Burke doesn’t govern cases in other circuits, but, given that it was a case of first impression (i.e. a similar case had never been decided before by that circuit) there, it may well be looked to by other circuits in deciding similar cases.  It may also be looked to by the Supreme Court should a similar case reach that level.

    David and Melissa Burke lived together and apparently were married.  Melissa’s 14-year-old daughter “B.F.” lived with them.  She was the natural daughter of Melissa and Clifton Farina who had divorced some years before.  David was her stepfather and Clifton was a non-custodial dad.  Frustratingly enough, the opinion doesn’t tell us whether Clifton had an order of visitation, but it seems that he did not because the opinion says that he had no right of physical custody.  Nevertheless, he saw his daughter fairly often even though B.F. testified that his new wife didn’t like her and being around her was uncomfortable for the girl.  Melissa had sole physical custody of B.F.

    When B.F. complained to an Alameda County Sheriff’s officer that David hit her repeatedly and often fondled her breasts, the officer, without a warrant, removed her from the Burke home and placed her with the county child protective services agency.  CPS in turn placed her in some form of protective care.

    David, Melissa and Clifton Farina sued Alameda County and the sheriff’s deputy under federal statute 42 U.S.C. 1983 which allows civil suits against municipal and state entities which “under color of law” deprive someone of their constitutional rights.  The trial court granted the county’s motion for summary judgment, holding that neither the Burkes nor Farina had any claim against the county on which they could prevail at trial.  The Ninth Circuit agreed that the Burkes had no claim and that the sheriff’s deputy was immune from suit.

    But the circuit court reversed the trial court as to Clifton Farina.  It said that, even though he had no right of physical custody, Alameda County could not lawfully ignore Clifton as a possible custodian of B.F.  Failure by the county to “explore the possibility of putting B.F. in his care” violated his constitutional right to a familial relationship and association with his daughter.  His case was returned to the trial court so a jury could hear and decide his claim for damages against the county.

    On this blog, both Glenn and I have written about the outrageous preference on the part of CPS agencies for foster care over father care.  Those agencies routinely bypass fathers altogther and place children in foster care.  I reported on an Urban Institute study that showed that, even though CPS agencies know who the father is in some 88% of cases that come before them, attempts to contact him are made in barely over half those cases.  Glenn has written about a girl to whom Orange County, California lied repeatedly over many years, solely to keep her from her father and in foster care.

    In short, after this case, CPS agencies can no longer do that without getting sued.  The Burke opinion is not clear on exactly what a county must do to comply with it.  But as I see it, they’ll have to make diligent efforts to locate the father and assess whether his care would be superior to that of a foster home.  If it would be, he would get custody.  In short, when taking a child from its custodial parent due to abuse or neglect, a state within the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction may no longer simply ignore the non-custodial parent.

    Thanks to Ned for the heads-up.

    Lisa Scott’s RealFamilyLaw.com
    Shared Parenting Advocate/Family Law Attorney Lisa Scott’s RealFamilyLaw.com exposes the truth about what is happening in our family law system. Lisa, the all-time leader in appearances on His Side with Glenn Sacks, says that she was “tired of having her stuff rejected by elitist bar publications and politically-correct newspapers” and decided to start her own website. RealFamilyLaw.com

    Ninth Circuit Gives Big Victory to Non-Custodial Father | Glenn Sacks on MND.

    Does DSM-IV Have Equivalents for the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Diagnosis?

    In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, MMPI, MMPI 2, mothers rights, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, state crimes on November 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Does DSM-IV Have Equivalents for the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Diagnosis?

    Richard A. Gardner. M.D.
    Department of Child Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons
    Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

    Child custody evaluators commonly find themselves confronted with resistance when they attempt to use the term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) in courts of law. Although convinced that the patient being evaluated suffers with the disorder, they often find that the attorneys who represent alienated parents, although agreeing with the diagnosis, will discourage use of the term in the evaluators’ reports and testimony. Most often, they will request that the evaluator merely use the term parental alienation (PA). On occasion they will ask whether other DSM-IV diagnoses may be applicable. The purpose of this article is to elucidate the reasons for the reluctance to use the PAS diagnosis and the applicability of PA as well as current DSM-IV substitute diagnoses.

    Mental health professionals, family law attorneys, and judges are generally in agreement that in recent years we have seen a disorder in which one parent alienates the child against the other parent. This problem is especially common in the context of child-custody disputes where such programming enables the indoctrinating parent to gain leverage in the court of law. There is significant controversy, however, regarding the term to use for this phenomenon. In 1985 I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome to describe this phenomenon (Gardner, 1985a).

    The Parental Alienation Syndrome

    In association with this burgeoning of child-custody litigation, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the frequency of a disorder rarely seen previously, a disorder that I refer to as the parental alienation syndrome (PAS). In this disorder we see not only programming (“brainwashing”) of the child by one parent to denigrate the other parent, but self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration against the alienated parent. Because of the child’s contribution I did not consider the terms brainwashing, programming, or other equivalent words to be sufficient. Furthermore, I observed a cluster of symptoms that typically appear together, a cluster that warranted the designation syndrome. Accordingly, I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome to encompass the combination of these two contributing factors that contributed to the development of the syndrome (Gardner, 1985a). In accordance with this use of the term I suggest this definition of the parental alienation syndrome:

    The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present, the child’s animosity may be justified and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.

    It is important to note that indoctrinating a PAS into a child is a form of abuse—emotional abuse—because it can reasonably result in progressive attenuation of the psychological bond between the child and a loving parent. In many cases it can result in total destruction of that bond, with lifelong alienation. In some cases, then, it may be even worse than other forms of abuse, e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. A parent who demonstrates such reprehensible behavior has a serious parenting defect, their professions of exemplary parenting notwithstanding. Typically, they are so intent on destroying the bond between the child and the alienated parent that they blind themselves to the formidable psychological consequences on the child of their PAS indoctrinations, both at the time of the indoctrinations and in the future.

    Most evaluators, family law attorneys, and judges recognize that such programming and child alienation is common in the context of child-custody disputes. They agree, also, that there are situations in which the child’s alienation is the result of parental programming. Some object to the use of the term syndrome and claim that it is not a syndrome, but that the term parental alienation (PA) should be used. The problem with the use of the term PA is that there are many reasons why a child might be alienated from parents, reasons having nothing to do with programming. A child might be alienated from a parent because of parental abuse of the child, e.g., physical, emotional, or sexual. A child might be alienated because of parental neglect. Children with conduct disorders are often alienated from their parents, and adolescents commonly go through phases of alienation. The PAS is well viewed as one subtype of parental alienation. Accordingly, substituting the term PA for PAS cannot but cause confusion.

    Is the PAS a True Syndrome?

    Some who prefer to use the term parental alienation (PA) claim that the PAS is not really a syndrome. This position is especially seen in courts of law in the context of child-custody disputes. A syndrome, by medical definition, is a cluster of symptoms, occurring together, that characterize a specific disease. The symptoms, although seemingly disparate, warrant being grouped together because of a common etiology or basic underlying cause. Furthermore, there is a consistency with regard to such a cluster in that most (if not all) of the symptoms appear together. The term syndrome is more specific than the related term disease. A disease is usually a more general term, because there can be many causes of a particular disease. For example, pneumonia is a disease, but there are many types of pneumonia—e.g., pneumococcal pneumonia and bronchopneumonia—each of which has more specific symptoms, and each of which could reasonably be considered a syndrome (although common usage may not utilize the term).

    The syndrome has a purity because most (if not all) of the symptoms in the cluster predictably manifest themselves together as a group. Often, the symptoms appear to be unrelated, but they actually are because they usually have a common etiology. An example would be Down’s Syndrome, which includes a host of seemingly disparate symptoms that do not appear to have a common link. These include mental retardation, Mongoloid faces, drooping lips, slanting eyes, short fifth finger, and atypical creases in the palms of the hands. Down’s Syndrome patients often look very much alike and most typically exhibit all these symptoms. The common etiology of these disparate symptoms relates to a specific chromosomal abnormality. It is this genetic factor that is responsible for linking together these seemingly disparate symptoms. There is then a primary, basic cause of Down’s Syndrome: a genetic abnormality.

    Similarly, the PAS is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that usually appear together in the child, especially in the moderate and severe types. These include:

       

    1. A campaign of denigration
    2. Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation
    3. Lack of ambivalence
    4. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon
    5. Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict
    6. Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent
    7. The presence of borrowed scenarios
    8. Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent
    9.  

    Typically, children who suffer with PAS will exhibit most (if not all) of these symptoms. However, in the mild cases one might not see all eight symptoms. When mild cases progress to moderate or severe, it is highly likely that most (if not all) of the symptoms will be present. This consistency results in PAS children resembling one another. It is because of these considerations that the PAS is a relatively “pure” diagnosis that can easily be made. Because of this purity, the PAS lends itself well to research studies because the population to be studied can usually be easily identified. Furthermore, I am confident that this purity will be verified by future interrater reliability studies. In contrast, children subsumed under the rubric PA are not likely to lend themselves well to research studies because of the wide variety of disorders to which it can refer, e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and defective parenting. As is true of other syndromes, there is in the PAS a specific underlying cause: programming by an alienating parent in conjunction with additional contributions by the programmed child. It is for these reasons that PAS is indeed a syndrome, and it is a syndrome by the best medical definition of the term.

    In contrast, PA is not a syndrome and has no specific underlying cause. Nor do the proponents of the term PA claim that it is a syndrome. Actually, PA can be viewed as a group of syndromes, which share in common the phenomenon of the child’s alienation from a parent. To refer to PA as a group of syndromes would, by necessity, lead to the conclusion that the PAS is one of the syndromes subsumed under the PA rubric and would thereby weaken the argument of those who claim that PAS is not a syndrome.

    The PAS and DSM-IV

    There are some, especially adversaries in child-custody disputes, who claim that there is no such entity as the PAS. This position is especially likely to be taken by legal and mental health professionals who are supporting the position of someone who is clearly a PAS programmer. The main argument given to justify this position is that the PAS does not appear in DSM-IV. To say that PAS does not exist because it is not listed in DSM-IV is like saying in 1980 that AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) did not exist because it was not then listed in standard diagnostic medical textbooks. DSM-IV was published in 1994. From 1991 to 1993, when DSM committees were meeting to consider the inclusion of additional disorders, there were too few articles in the literature to warrant submission of the PAS for consideration. That is no longer the case. It is my understanding that committees will begin to meet for the next edition of the DSM (probably to be called DSM-V) in 2002 or 2003. Considering the fact that there are now at least 133 articles in peer-review journals on the PAS, it is highly likely that by that time there will be even more articles. (A list of peer-reviewed PAS articles is to be found on my website, www.rgardner.com/refs, a list that is continually being updated.)

    It is important to note that DSM-IV does not frivolously accept every new proposal. Their requirements are very stringent with regard to the inclusion of newly described clinical entities. The committees require many years of research and numerous publications in peer-review scientific journals before considering the inclusion of a disorder, and justifiably so. Gille de La Tourette first described his syndrome in 1885. It was not until 1980, 95 years later, that the disorder found its way into the DSM. It is important to note that at that point, Tourette’s Syndrome became Tourette’s Disorder. Asperger first described his syndrome in 1957. It was not until 1994, 37 years later, that it was accepted into DSM-IV and Asperger’s Syndrome became Asperger’s Disorder.

    DSM-IV states specifically that all disorders contained in the volume are “syndromes or patterns” (p. xxi), and they would not be there if they were not syndromes (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Once accepted, the name syndrome is changed to disorder. However, this is not automatically the pattern for nonpsychiatric disorders. Often the term syndrome becomes locked into the name and becomes so well known that changing the word syndrome to disorder would seem awkward. For example, Down’s syndrome, although well recognized, has never become Down’s disorder. Similarly, AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) is a well-recognized disease but still retains the syndrome term.

    One of the most important (if not the most important) determinants as to whether a newly described disorder will be accepted into the DSM is the quantity and quality of research articles on the clinical entity, especially articles that have been published in peer-review journals. The committees are particularly interested in interrater reliability studies that will validate the relative “purity” of the disease entity being described. PAS lends itself well to such studies; PA does not. One of the first steps one must take when setting up a scientific study is to define and circumscribe the group(s) being studied. PAS lends itself well to such circumscription. PA is so diffuse and all-encompassing that no competent researcher would consider such a group to be a viable object of study. Whether one is going to study etiology, symptomatic manifestations, pathogenesis, treatment modalities, treatment efficacy, or conduct follow-up studies, one is more likely to obtain meaningful results if one starts with a discrete group (such as PAS) than if one starts with an amorphous group (such as PA). One of the major criticisms directed against many research projects is that the authors’ study group was not “pure” enough and/or well-selected enough to warrant the professed conclusions. Studies of PAS children are far less likely to justify this criticism than studies of PA children.

    Whereas the PAS may ultimately be recognized in DSM-V, it is extremely unlikely that DSM committees will consider an entity referred to as parental alienation. It is too vague a term and covers such a wide variety of clinical phenomena that they could not justifiably be clumped together to warrant inclusion in DSM as a specific disorder. Because listing in the DSM ensures admissibility in courts of law, those who use the term PA instead of PAS are lessening the likelihood that PAS will be listed in DSM-V. The result will be that many PAS families will be deprived of the proper recognition they deserve in courts of law, which often depend heavily on the DSM.

    Recognition of the PAS in Courts of Law

    Some who hesitate to use the term PAS claim that it has not been accepted in courts of law. This is not so. Although there are certainly judges who have not recognized the PAS, there is no question that courts of law with increasing rapidity are recognizing the disorder. My website (www.rgardner.com/refs) currently cites 66 cases in which the PAS has been recognized. By the time this article is published, the number of citations will certainly be greater. Furthermore, I am certain that there are other citations that have not been brought to my attention.

    It is important to note that on January 30, 2001, after a two-day hearing devoted to whether the PAS satisfied Frye Test criteria for admissibility in a court of law, a Tampa, Florida court ruled that the PAS had gained enough acceptance in the scientific community to be admissible in a court of law (Kilgore v. Boyd, 2001). This ruling was subsequently affirmed by the District Court of Appeals (February 6, 2001). In the course of my testimony, I brought to the court’s attention the more than 100 peer-reviewed articles (there are 133 at the time of this writing) by approximately 150 other authors and over 40 court rulings (there are 66 at the time of this writing) in which the PAS had been recognized. These lists of the PAS peer-reviewed articles and legal citations are frequently updated on my website (www.rgardner.com). I am certain that these publications played an important role in the judge’s decision. This case will clearly serve as a precedent and facilitate the admission of the PAS in other cases—not only in Florida, but elsewhere.

    Whereas there are some courts of law that have not recognized PAS, there are far fewer courts that have not recognized PA. This is one of the important arguments given by those who prefer the term PA. They do not risk an opposing attorney claiming that PA does not exist or that courts of law have not recognized it. There are some evaluators who recognize that children are indeed suffering with a PAS, but studiously avoid using the term in their reports and courtroom, because they fear that their testimony will not be admissible. Accordingly, they use PA, which is much safer, because they are protected from the criticisms so commonly directed at those who use PAS. Later in this article I will detail the reasons why I consider this position injudicious.

    Many of those who espouse PA claim not to be concerned with the fact that their more general construct will be less useful in courts of law. Their primary interest, they profess, is the expansion of knowledge about children’s alienation from parents. Considering the fact that the PAS is primarily (if not exclusively) a product of the adversary system, and considering the fact that PAS symptoms are directly proportionate to the intensity of the parental litigation, and considering the fact that the court that has more power than the therapist to alleviate and even cure the disorder, PA proponents who claim no concern for the long-term legal implications of their position are injudicious and, I suspect, their claims of unconcern are specious.

    Sources of the Controversy Over the Parental Alienation Syndrome

    There are some who claim that because there is such controversy swirling around the PAS, there must be something specious about the existence of the disorder. Those who discount the PAS entirely because it is “controversial” sidestep the real issues, namely, what specifically has engendered the controversy, and, more importantly, is the PAS formulation reasonable and valid? The fact that something is controversial does not invalidate it. But why do we have such controversy over the PAS? With regard to whether PAS exists, we generally do not see such controversy regarding most other clinical entities in psychiatry. Examiners may have different opinions regarding the etiology and treatment of a particular psychiatric disorder, but there is usually some consensus about its existence. And this should especially be the case for a relatively “pure” disorder such as the PAS, a disorder that is easily diagnosable because of the similarity of the children’s symptoms when one compares one family with another. Why, then, should there be such controversy over whether or not PAS exists?

    The PAS and the Adversary System

    The PAS is very much a product of the adversary system (Gardner, 1985a, 1986, 1987a, 1987b, 1989, 1992, 1998). Furthermore, a court of law is generally the place where clients attempt to resolve the PAS. Most newly developed scientific principles inevitably become controversial when they are dealt with in the courtroom. It behooves the attorneys — when working within the adversary system — to take an adversarial stand and create controversy where it may not exist. In that setting, it behooves one side to take just the opposite position from the other if one is to prevail. Furthermore, it behooves each attorney to attempt to discredit the experts of the opposing counsel. A good example of this phenomenon is the way in which DNA testing was dealt with in the OJ Simpson trial. DNA testing is one of the most scientifically valid procedures for identifying perpetrators. Yet the jury saw fit to question the validity of such evidence, and DNA became, for that trial, controversial. I strongly suspect that those jury members who concluded that DNA evidence was not scientifically valid for OJ Simpson would have vehemently fought for its admissibility if they themselves were being tried for a crime, which they did not commit. I am certain, as well, that any man in that jury who found himself falsely accused of paternity would be quite eager to accept DNA proof of his innocence.

    The Denial of the PAS is the Primary Defense of the Alienator

    A parent accused of inducing a PAS in a child is likely to engage the services of a lawyer who may invoke the argument that there is no such thing as a PAS. The reasoning goes like this: “If there is no such thing as the PAS, then there is no programmer, and therefore my client cannot be accused of brainwashing the children.” This is an extremely important point, and I cannot emphasize it strongly enough. It is a central element in the controversy over the PAS, a controversy that has been played out in courtrooms not only in the United States but in various other countries as well. And if the allegedly dubious lawyer can demonstrate that the PAS is not listed in DSM-IV, then the position is considered “proven” (I say “allegedly” because the lawyer may well recognize the PAS but is only serving his client by his deceitfulness). The only thing this proves is that in 1994 DSM-IV did not list the PAS. The lawyers hope, however, that the judge will be taken in by this specious argument and will then conclude that if there is no PAS, there is no programming, and so the client is thereby exonerated. Substituting the term PA circumvents this problem. No alienator is identified, the sources are vaguer, and the causes could lie with the mother, the father, or both. The drawback here is that the evaluator may not provide the court with proper information about the cause of the children’s alienation. It lessens the likelihood, then, that the court will have the proper data with which to make its recommendations.

    Which Term to Use in the Courtroom: PA or PAS?

    Many examiners, then, even those who recognize the existence of the PAS, may consciously and deliberately choose to use the term parental alienation in the courtroom. Their argument may go along these lines: “I fully recognize that there is such a disease as the PAS. I have seen many such cases and it is a widespread phenomenon. However, if I mention PAS in my report, I expose myself to criticism in the courtroom such as, ‘It doesn’t exist,’ ‘It’s not in DSM-IV’ etc. Therefore, I just use PA, and no one denies that.” I can recognize the attractiveness of this argument, but I have serious reservations about this way of dealing with the controversy—especially in a court of law.

    Using PA is basically a terrible disservice to the PAS family because the cause of the children’s alienation is not properly identified. It is also a compromise in one’s obligation to the court, which is to provide accurate and useful information so that the court will be in the best position to make a proper ruling. Using PA is an abrogation of this responsibility; using PAS is in the service of fulfilling this obligation.

    Furthermore, evaluators who use PA instead of PAS are losing sight of the fact that they are impeding the general acceptance of the term in the courtroom. This is a disservice to the legal system, because it deprives the legal network of the more specific PAS diagnosis that could be more helpful to courts for dealing with such families. Moreover, using the PA term is shortsighted because it lessens the likelihood that some future edition of DSM will recognize the subtype of PA that we call PAS. This not only has diagnostic implications, but even more importantly, therapeutic implications. The diagnoses included in the DSM serve as a foundation for treatment. The symptoms listed therein serve as guidelines for therapeutic interventions and goals. Insurance companies (who are always quick to look for reasons to deny coverage) strictly refrain from providing coverage for any disorder not listed in the DSM. Accordingly, PAS families cannot expect to be covered for treatment. I describe below additional diagnoses that are applicable to the PAS, diagnoses that justify requests for insurance coverage. Examiners in both the mental health and legal professions who genuinely recognize the PAS, but who refrain from using the term until it appears in DSM, are lessening the likelihood that it will ultimately be included, because widespread utilization is one of the criteria that DSM committees consider. Such restraint, therefore, is an abrogation of their responsibility to contribute to the enhancement of knowledge in their professions.

    There is, however, a compromise. I use PAS in all those reports in which I consider the diagnosis justified. I also use the PAS term throughout my testimony. However, I sometimes make comments along these lines, both in my reports and in my testimony:

    Although I have used the term PAS, the important questions for the court are: Are these children alienated? What is the cause of the alienation? and What can we then do about it? So if one wants to just use the term PA, one has learned something. But we haven’t really learned very much, because everyone involved in this case knows well that the children have been alienated. The question is what is the cause of the children’s alienation? In this case the alienation is caused by the mother’s (father’s) programming and something must be done about protecting the children from the programming. That is the central issue for this court in this case, and it is more important than whether one is going to call the disorder PA or PAS, even though I strongly prefer the PAS term for the reasons already given.

    In addition, if the court does not wish to recognize the PAS diagnosis there are other DSM-IV diagnoses that are very much applicable in this case. For the alienating father (mother) the following diagnoses are warranted: (the examiner can select from the list provided in the next section of this article). For the PAS child the following DSM-IV diagnoses are warranted: (the examiner can select from the list provided in the next section of this article). With regard to the alienated parent, the mother (father), no DSM-IV diagnosis is warranted. (However, a DSM-IV diagnosis may be warranted, but generally it is not related to the PAS as the symptoms have not played a role in contributing to the disorder).

    I wish to emphasize that I do not routinely include this compromise, because whenever I do so, I recognize that I am providing support for those who are injudiciously eschewing the term and compromising thereby their professional obligations to their clients and the court.

    Warshak (1999, 2001), has also addressed the PA vs. PAS controversy. He emphasizes the point that espousers of both PA and PAS agree that in the severe cases the only hope for the victimized children is significant restriction of the programmer’s access to the children and, in many cases, custodial transfer—sometimes via a transitional site. Warshak concludes that the arguments for the utilization for PAS outweigh the arguments for the utilization of PA, although he has more sympathy for the PA position than do I. Elsewhere, I have also addressed myself to this issue (Gardner, 2002).

    DSM-IV Diagnoses Related to the Parental Alienation Syndrome

    Examiners writing reports for and testifying in courts of law can generally find diagnoses in DSM-IV that are immune to the argument, “It doesn’t exist because it’s not in DSM-IV.” These diagnoses are not identical to the PAS, but they have common elements that can justify their utilization. None of them, however, are identical to the PAS and cannot be used as substitutes for it. I present here those that are most applicable and potentially useful in courts of law.

    Diagnoses Applicable to Both Alienating Parents and PAS Childrem

    297.3 Shared Psychotic Disorder

       

    1. A delusion develops in an individual in the context of a close relationship with another person(s) who has an already-established delusion.
    2. The delusion is similar in content to that of the person who already has the established delusion.
    3.  

    This DSM-IV diagnosis is warranted in some of the severe PAS cases in which the programmer is paranoid, and the child’s campaign of denigration incorporates the same paranoid ideation. In a sense, most of the moderate, and even some of the mild cases of PAS, are examples of the folie à deux phenomenon. However, one cannot justifiably consider the mild and moderate cases of PAS to warrant the label psychotic with the implication of complete break with reality. In severe cases we do see bona fide delusions of persecution that can justifiably be considered paranoid. Most often, the delusional system is circumscribed to the alienated parent. It is important to note that this single diagnosis can be applied to both the alienator and the alienated child.

    V61.20 Parent-Child Relational Problem

    This category should be used when the focus of clinical attention is a pattern of interaction between parent and child (e.g., impaired communication, overprotection, inadequate discipline) that is associated with clinically significant impairment in individual or family functioning or the development of clinically significant symptoms in parent or child.

    This diagnosis generally applies to a dyad. Obviously, there are a wide variety of parent-child relational problems that have nothing to do with PAS. In fact, it is reasonable to state that parent-child relational problems probably began with the first families that existed. This diagnosis is an excellent example of the aforementioned principle that none of the DSM-IV diagnoses described here can be reasonably substituted for the PAS. Rather, they are best viewed as disorders that have some symptoms in common with the PAS and may therefore justify being listed as additional diagnoses.

    In the PAS situation there is a pathological dyad between the alienating parent and the child and another pathological dyad between the alienated parent and the child. The pathological dyad between the alienated parent and the child is one in which the child is being programmed into a campaign of denigration against the previously loving parent. The child is being programmed to exhibit any and all of the primary symptomatic manifestations of the PAS. With regard to the relationship between the child and the alienated parent, the child exhibits inordinate hostility, denigration, and fear of the target parent to the point where that parent is viewed as noxious and loathsome. Examiners using this criterion do well to emphasize that two separate parent-child relational problems are manifested.

    Diagnoses Applicable to Alienating Parents

    297.71 Delusional Disorder

       

    1. Nonbizarre delusions (i.e., involving situations that occur in real life, such as being followed, poisoned, infected, loved at a distance, or deceived by spouse or lover, or having a disease) of at least 1 month’s duration.
    2.  

    Of the various subtypes of delusional disorder, the one that is most applicable to the PAS:

    Persecutory Type: delusions that the person (or someone to whom the person is close) is being malevolently treated in some way

    This diagnosis is generally applicable to the PAS indoctrinator who may initially recognize that the complaints about the behavior of the alienated parent are conscious and deliberate fabrications. However, over time, the fabrications may become delusions, actually believed by the programming parent. And the same process may ultimately be applicable to the child. Specifically, at first the child may recognize that the professions of hatred are feigned and serve to ingratiate the child to the programmer. However, over time the child may come to actually believe what were originally conscious and deliberate fabrications. When that point is reached the delusional disorder diagnosis is applicable to the child. Generally, this diagnosis is applicable to relentless programmers who are obsessed with their hatred of the victim parent, by which time the child will have probably entered the severe level of PAS. It is to be noted that when the PAS is present, most often one observes a circumscribed delusional system, confined almost exclusively to the alienated parent. This diagnosis may also be applicable to the PAS child, especially the child who is in the severe category.

    301.0 Paranoid Personality Disorder

       

    1. A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
      1. suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
      2. is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
      3. is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
      4. reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events
      5. persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
      6. perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
      7. has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner
    2.  

    PAS programmers who warrant this diagnosis would often satisfy these criteria before the marital separation. A detailed history from the victim parent as well as collaterals may be important because the programming parent is not likely to directly reveal such symptoms. They may, however, reveal them in the course of the evaluation, because they are such deep-seated traits, and are so deeply embedded in their personality structure, that they cannot be hidden. Most people involved in protracted child-custody litigation become “a little paranoid,” and this is often revealed by elevations on the paranoid scale of the MMPI. After all, there are indeed people who are speaking behind the patient’s back, are plotting against them, and are developing schemes and strategies with opposing lawyers. This reality results in an elevation of the paranoid scale in people who would not have manifested such elevations prior to the onset of the litigation. We see here how adversarial proceedings intensify psychopathology in general (Gardner, 1986), and in this case, paranoid psychopathology especially. The PAS child is less likely to warrant this diagnosis. When the severe level is reached PAS children may warrant the aforementioned Shared Psychotic Disorder diagnosis. On occasion, the diagnosis Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type (295.30) is warranted for the programming parent, but such patients generally exhibited other manifestations of schizophrenia, especially prior to the separation. It goes beyond the purposes of this paper to detail the marital symptoms of schizophrenia which should be investigated if the examiner has reason to believe that this diagnosis may be applicable.

    It is important for the examiner to appreciate that there is a continuum from delusional disorder, to paranoid personality disorder, to paranoid schizophrenia. Furthermore, in the course of protracted litigation, a patient may move along the track from the milder to a more severe disorder on this continuum.

    301.83 Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

    A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

       

    1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
      Note:Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
    2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
    3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
    4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
      Note Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
    5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
    6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
    7. chronic feelings of emptiness
    8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
    9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
    10.  

    Some alienators may exhibit some of these symptoms prior to the separation. However, as a result of the stresses of the separation, the symptoms may progress to the point where the diagnosis is applicable. Criterion (1) is likely to be exhibited soon after the separation because the marital dissolution is generally associated with real feelings of abandonment. Criterion (2) is often seen when there is a dramatic shift from idealization of the spouse to extreme devaluation. The campaign of denigration is the best example of this manifestation of BPD.

    Criterion (4) may manifest itself by excessive spending, especially when such spending causes significant stress and grief to the alienated parent. Following the separation, alienating parents may satisfy Criterion (6) with affect instability, irritability, and intense episodic dysphoria. Although such reactions are common among most people involved in a divorce, especially when litigating the divorce, patients with BPD exhibit these symptoms to an even greater degree. Chronic feelings of emptiness (Criterion [7]) go beyond those that are generally felt by people following a separation. Criterion (8) is extremely common among PAS programmers. The tirades of anger against the alienated parent serve as a model for the child and contribute to the development of the campaign of denigration. The stress-related paranoia, an intensification of the usual suspiciousness exhibited by people involved in litigation, may reach the point that Criterion (9) is satisfied.

    The examiner should note which of the symptoms are present and comment: “Five criteria need to be satisfied for the BPD diagnosis. Ms. X satisfies four. Although she does not qualify for the diagnosis at this point, she is at high risk for its development. Furthermore, when one lists diagnoses at the end of the report one might note the DSM-IV diagnosis and add in parenthesis “incipient.”

    301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

       

    1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements
    2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    3. believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
    4. requires excessive admiration
    5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
    6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
    7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
    8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
    9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
    10.  

    My experience has been that most PAS indoctrinators do not satisfy enough criteria (five) to warrant this diagnosis. However, many do exhibit three or four of them, which is worthy of the examiner’s attention and should be noted in the report.

    Criterion (5) is especially common in PAS indoctrinators. They act as if court orders have absolutely nothing to do with them, even though their names may be specifically spelled out in the ruling. Unfortunately, they often violate these orders with impunity because courts are typically lax with regard to implementing punitive measures for PAS contemnors. As mentioned in other publications of mine (Gardner, 1998; 2001), the failure of courts to take action against PAS programmers is one of the most common reasons why the symptoms become entrenched in the children.

    Criterion (6) is often frequently satisfied by the programmer’s ongoing attempts to extract ever more money from the victim parent, but feels little need to allow access to the children. There is no sense of shame or guilt over this common form of exploitation. The programmer’s lack of empathy and sympathy for the victim parent is quite common and easily satisfies Criterion (7). The PAS, by definition, is a disorder in which a programmer tries to destroy the bond between the children and a good, loving parent. In order to accomplish the goal, the alienator must have a serious deficiency in the ability to empathize with the target parent. Criterion (9) is often seen in that PAS indoctrinators are often haughty and arrogant and this symptom goes along with their sense of entitlement. Again, if warranted, the diagnosis can be listed as “incipient.”

    DSM-IV Diagnoses Applicable to PAS Children

    312.8 Conduct Disorder

    1. A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated, as manifested by the presence of three (or more) of the following criteria in the past 12 months, with at least one criterion present in the past 6 months:
    2.  

    This diagnosis is often applicable to the PAS child, especially in situations when the conduct disturbances are the most salient manifestation. Under such circumstances, an examiner who is not familiar with the PAS may erroneously conclude that this is the only diagnosis. Such a conclusion necessitates selective inattention to the programming process, which is the hallmark of the PAS. Once again, we see here how a diagnosis, although in DSM-IV, cannot be used as a substitute for the PAS, but may be used as an additional diagnosis. I will not list here all 15 of the DSM-IV criteria, but only those that are most applicable to the PAS:

      Aggression to people and animals

       

    1. often bullies, threatens, or intimidates others
    2. often initiates physical fights
    3. has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others (e.g., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun)
    4. has been physically cruel to animals
    5. has stolen while confronting a victim (e.g., mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery) Destruction of property
    6. has deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage
    7. has deliberately destroyed others’ property (other than by fire setting)Deceitfulness or theft
    8. often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations (i.e., “cons” others)
    9. has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (e.g., shoplifting, but without breaking and entering; forgery)Serious violations of rules
    10. has run away from home overnight at least twice while living in parental or parental surrogate home (or once without returning for a lengthy period
    11.  

    As can be seen, most of the 15 criteria for the conduct disorder diagnosis can be satisfied by PAS children, especially those in the severe category. The target parent is very much scapegoated and victimized by PAS children. In severe cases they are screamed at, intimidated, and sometimes physically assaulted with objects such as bats, bottles, and knives. The child may perpetrate acts of sabotage in the home of the victim parent. Destruction of property in that person’s home is common and, on rare occasion, even fire setting. Deceitfulness is common, especially fabrications facilitated and supported by the alienator. Stealing things, such as legal documents and important records, and bringing them to the home of the alienator is common. Running away from the home of the target parent and returning to the home of the alienator is common, especially in moderate and severe cases.

    309.21 Separation Anxiety Disorder

       

    1. Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:
    2.  

    I reproduce here those of the eight criteria that are applicable to the PAS:

    1) recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

    4) persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation

    8) repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

    It is important for the reader to appreciate that the original diagnosis for separation anxiety disorder was school phobia. The term separation anxiety disorder is a relatively recent development emerging from the recognition that the child’s fear was less that of the school per se and much more related to the fear of separation from a parent, commonly an overprotective mother (Gardner, 1985b). DSM-IV recognizes this and doesn’t necessarily require the school to be the object of fear, but rather separation from the home, especially from someone with whom the child is pathologically attached.

    It is important to note that the PAS child’s hatred of the victim parent has less to do with actual dislike of that parent and has much more to do with fear that if affection is displayed toward the target parent, the alienating parent will be angry at and rejecting of the child. At the prospect of going with the victim parent, the child may exhibit a wide variety of psychosomatic symptoms, all manifestations of the tension associated with the visit. The distress may be especially apparent when the alienating parent is at the site of the transfer. The child recognizes that expression of willingness or happiness to go off with the alienated parent might result in rejection by the alienator. The separation anxiety disorder diagnosis is most often applicable to the mild and moderate cases of PAS. In the severe cases, the anxiety element is less operative than the anger element.

    When applying these criteria to the PAS child, one does well to substitute the PAS indoctrinating parent for the parent with whom the child is pathologically attached. At the same time one should substitute the alienated parent for the school or other place outside the child’s home. When one does this, one can see how most of the aforementioned criteria apply. When the child with a separation anxiety disorder is fearful of leaving the home to go to many destinations, the school is the destination the child most fears. It is there that the child feels imprisoned. In contrast, PAS children generally fear only the target parent and are not afraid to leave the programming parent and go elsewhere, such as to the homes of friends and relatives. In short, the PAS child’s fear is focused on the alienated parent. In contrast, the child with a separation anxiety disorder has fears that focus on school but which have spread to many other situations and destinations.

    300.15 Dissociative Disorder
    Not Otherwise Specified

    This category is included for disorders in which the predominant feature is a dissociative symptom (i.e., a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment) that does not meet the criteria for any specific Dissociative Disorder. Examples include:

       

    1. States of dissociation that occur in individuals who have been subjected to periods of prolonged and coercive persuasion (e.g., brainwashing, thought reform, or indoctrination while captive).
    2.  

    Of the four categories of dissociative disorder (NOS), only Category 3 is applicable to the PAS. This criterion was designed for people who have been subjected to cult indoctrinations or for military prisoners subjected to brainwashing designed to convert their loyalty from their homeland to the enemy that has imprisoned them. It is very applicable to PAS children, especially those in the severe category. Such children have been programmed to convert their loyalty from a loving parent to the brainwashing parent exclusively. Cult victims and those subjected to prisoner indoctrinations often appear to be in a trance-like state in which they profess their indoctrinations in litany-like fashion. PAS children as well (especially those in the severe category) are often like robots or automatons in the way in which they profess the campaign of denigration in litany-like fashion. They seem to be in an altered state of consciousness when doing so.

    Adjustment Disorders

    The following subtypes of adjustment disorders are sometimes applicable to PAS children:

    309.0 With Depressed Mood.

    309.24 With Anxiety.

    309.28 With Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood.

    309.3 With Disturbance of Conduct.

    309.4 With Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct

    Each of these types of adjustment disorders may be applicable to the PAS child. The child is indeed adjusting to a situation in which one parent is trying to convince the youngster that a previously loving, dedicated, and loyal parent has really been noxious, loathsome, and dangerous. The programmed data does not seem to coincide with what the child has experienced. This produces confusion. The child fears that any expression of affection for the target parent will result in rejection by the alienator. Under such circumstances, the child may respond with anxiety, depression, and disturbances of conduct.

    313.9 Disorder of Infancy, Childhood or Adolescence Not Otherwise Specified

    This category is a residual category for disorders with onset in infancy, childhood, or adolescence that do not meet criteria for any specific order in the Classification.

    This would be a “last resort” diagnosis for the PAS child, the child who, although suffering with a PAS, does not have symptoms that warrant other DSM-IV childhood diagnoses. However, if one still feels the need to use a DSM-IV diagnosis, especially if the report will be compromised without one, then this last-resort diagnosis can justifiably be utilized. However, it is so vague that it says absolutely nothing other than that the person who is suffering with this disorder is a child. I do not recommend its utilization because of its weakness and because it provides practically no new information to the court.

    DSM-IV Diagnoses Applicable to Alienated Parents

    In most PAS cases, a diagnosis is not warranted for the alienated parent. On occasion that parent does warrant a DSM-IV diagnosis, but its applicability usually antedated the separation and usually has not played a role in the PAS development or promulgation. As mentioned elsewhere (Gardner, 2001), the primary problem I have seen with alienated parents is their passivity. They are afraid to implement traditional disciplinary and punitive measures with their children, lest they alienate them even further. And they are afraid to criticize the alienator because of the risk that such criticism will be reported to the court and compromise even further their position in the child-custody litigation. Generally, their passivity is not so deep-seated that they would warrant DSM-IV diagnoses such as avoidant personality disorder (301.82) or dependent personality disorder (301.6), because such passivity does not extend into other areas of life and did not antedate the marital separation. One could argue that they have an adjustment disorder, but there is no DSM diagnosis called “adjustment disorder, with passivity.” Accordingly, I will often state for alienated parents, “No Axis 1 diagnosis.”

    If, indeed, the alienated parent did suffer with a psychiatric disorder that contributed to the alienation, then this should be noted. Certainly, there are situations in which the alienated parent’s psychiatric disorder is so profound that it is the primary cause of the children’s alienation. In such cases, the PAS diagnosis is not warranted. Under such circumstances, this disorder should be described instead as the cause of the children’s alienation.

    Final Comments About Alternative DSM-IV Diagnoses for the PAS

    As mentioned, the primary reason for using these diagnoses is that the PAS, at this point, is not recognized in some courts of law. They cannot be used as substitute diagnoses for the PAS, but sometimes share in common some of the symptoms. Accordingly, they can be used as additional diagnoses. It is too early to expect widespread recognition because it was not feasible for the PAS to have been placed in the 1994 edition, so few were the publications on the disorder when the preparatory committees were meeting. This will certainly not be the case when the committees meet in the next few years for the preparation of DSM-V, which is scheduled for publication in 2010. None of the aforementioned substitute diagnoses are fully applicable to the PAS; however, as mentioned, each one has certain characteristics which overlap the PAS diagnosis. Because no combination of these alternative diagnoses can properly replace the PAS, they should be used in addition to rather than instead of the PAS. There is hardly a diagnosis in DSM-IV that does not share symptoms in common with other diagnoses. There is significant overlap and often fluidity in DSM diagnoses. None are “pure,” but some are purer than others, and the PAS is one of the purer ones.

    At this point, examiners who conclude that PAS is an applicable diagnosis do well to list it in the appropriate place(s) in their reports (especially at the end). At the same time, they do well to list any DSM-IV diagnoses that are applicable for the alienator, the alienated child, and (if warranted) for the alienated parent. Accordingly, even if the court will not recognize the PAS diagnosis, it will have a more difficult time ignoring these alternative DSM diagnoses.

    Conclusions

    Controversies are likely when a new disorder is first described. This is predictable. The PAS, however, has probably generated more controversy than most new diagnostic contributions. The primary reason for this is that the PAS is very much a product of the adversary legal system that adjudicates child-custody disputes. Under such circumstances, it behooves opposing attorneys to discredit the contribution and to find every argument possible for obstructing its admission into courts of law. And this is what happened with the PAS. The purpose of this article has been to help evaluators involved in such disputes understand better the nature of the controversy and to deal with it in the context of the present legal situation. Like all compromises, the solution is not perfect. None of the additional diagnoses are identical to the PAS, but they do serve a purpose in a court of law in that they are established psychiatric diagnoses that are applicable to PAS alienators, PAS children, and (on occasion) the alienated parent. Ultimately, if PAS is admitted into DSM-V, the main argument for its inadmissibility in courts of law will no longer be applicable and the need for listing these additional diagnoses in courts of law will be reduced.

    References

    American Psychiatric Association (1994), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (DSM-IV). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

    Boyd v. Kilgore, 773 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (Prohibition Denied)

    Kilgore v. Boyd, 13th Circuit Court, Hillsborough County, FL., Case No. 94-7573, 733 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000) Jan 30, 2001

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

    _______ (1985b), Separation Anxiety Disorder: Psychodynamics and Psychotherapy. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

    _______ (1986), Child Custody Litigation: A Guide for Parents and Mental Health Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

    _______ (1987), The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

    _______ (1987), Child Custody. In Basic Handbook of Child Psychiatry, ed. J. Noshpitz, Vol. V, pp. 637-646. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

    _______ (1989), Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

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

    _______ (1998), The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

    ________ (2001), Therapeutic Interventions for Children with Parental Alienation Syndrome. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

    _______ (2002), Parental alienation syndrome vs. parental alienation: Which diagnosis should be used in child-custody litigation? The American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(2):101-123.

    rgardner.com, Articles in Peer-reviewed journals and Published Books on the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). www.rgardner.com/refs

    _______, Testimony Concerning the Parental Alienation Syndrome Has Been Admitted in Courts of Law in Many States and Countries. www.rgardner.com/refs

    Warshak, R. A. (1999), Psychological syndromes: Parental alienation syndrome. Expert Witness Manual, Chapter 3-32. Dallas, TX:State Bar of Texas, Family Law Section.

    _______ (2001), Current controversies regarding parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 19(3):29-59.

    ©2002 Richard A. Gardner, M.D.

    Parental Alienation – The Kidnapper’s Trick

    In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, kidnapped children, Marriage, MMPI, MMPI 2, mothers rights, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads on November 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    by Nathan Thornburgh

    Around the globe, millions have followed the story of Natascha Kampusch, the girl who was kidnapped at age 10 and held prisoner for eight years in a windowless basement near Vienna, Austria. They have clicked through snapshots of her dungeon posted on the Internet, speculated in chat rooms about why she had never been discovered, and marveled at her eloquence in her first television interview last week.

    But in the U.S., one group is intently focused not on the physical layout of Kampusch’s captivity but on the mental landscape of a girl who grew up thinking her parents had abandoned her–counselors who work with children of divorced couples. Long-term abductions by strangers are thankfully rare, but psychologists say the trauma of Kampusch, 18, who was told for years that her parents had simply forgotten about her, echoes the fallout from the more common nightmare of a custody dispute in which a child is irrevocably poisoned against one parent. However composed she appears now, they warn, Kampusch has a long, treacherous road to recovering her relationship with her parents.

    Convincing children that their parents don’t love them is a brutally effective way to secure children’s allegiance. Steven Stayner was kidnapped in Merced, Calif., in 1972, at age 7. For seven years, he lived with his abductor as a son, going to a public high school, often left alone but never escaping. According to Sharon Carr Griffin, a friend of Stayner’s who is writing a book about his life, Stayner’s kidnapper told him that his dad had died and his mother had signed custody of Stayner over to the kidnapper. “If you can convince a child that their parents don’t care, then you own them,” says J. Michael Bone, a mental health counselor in Winter Park, Fla.

    Bone has counseled scores of victims of a phenomenon known as “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” in which one parent accuses the other of brainwashing their child and turning him or her against the parent. Parental alienation is a controversial legal theory. Some say it’s just a smoke screen for abusive or negligent parents who deserve to be hated by their children. But practitioners say that in extreme cases, parents can implant false memories of abuse or otherwise stir a child into a permanent and completely irrational rage against the targeted parent.

    From the Magazine | Behavior The Kidnapper’s Trick An Austrian girl escapes her captor, but the lies he told about her parents may be harder to outrun By NATHAN THORNBURGH SUBSCRIBE TO TIMEPRINTE-MAILMORE BY AUTHOR Posted Thursday, Sep. 14, 2006 Around the globe, millions have followed the story of Natascha Kampusch, the girl who was kidnapped at age 10 and held prisoner for eight years in a windowless basement near Vienna, Austria. They have clicked through snapshots of her dungeon posted on the Internet, speculated in chat rooms about why she had never been discovered, and marveled at her eloquence in her first television interview last week.

    But in the U.S., one group is intently focused not on the physical layout of Kampusch’s captivity but on the mental landscape of a girl who grew up thinking her parents had abandoned her–counselors who work with children of divorced couples. Long-term abductions by strangers are thankfully rare, but psychologists say the trauma of Kampusch, 18, who was told for years that her parents had simply forgotten about her, echoes the fallout from the more common nightmare of a custody dispute in which a child is irrevocably poisoned against one parent. However composed she appears now, they warn, Kampusch has a long, treacherous road to recovering her relationship with her parents.

    Convincing children that their parents don’t love them is a brutally effective way to secure children’s allegiance. Steven Stayner was kidnapped in Merced, Calif., in 1972, at age 7. For seven years, he lived with his abductor as a son, going to a public high school, often left alone but never escaping. According to Sharon Carr Griffin, a friend of Stayner’s who is writing a book about his life, Stayner’s kidnapper told him that his dad had died and his mother had signed custody of Stayner over to the kidnapper. “If you can convince a child that their parents don’t care, then you own them,” says J. Michael Bone, a mental health counselor in Winter Park, Fla. Bone has counseled scores of victims of a phenomenon known as “parental alienation syndrome,” in which one parent accuses the other of brainwashing their child and turning him or her against the parent. Parental alienation is a controversial legal theory.

    Some say it’s just a smoke screen for abusive or negligent parents who deserve to be hated by their children. But practitioners say that in extreme cases, parents can implant false memories of abuse or otherwise stir a child into a permanent and completely irrational rage against the targeted parent. Increasingly, family courts are ordering a treatment called reconciliation therapy. One technique is to have the child look through an album of photos of the alienated parent to humanize that person again. Another is to show studies about how easily the mind is tricked, to let children know it’s not their fault that they have come to believe falsehoods about their parent. But those first steps toward rebuilding the parent-child relationship can be wobbly.

    That is why counselors are saluting the caution being shown in Natascha Kampusch’s case. At first blush, it seems counterintuitive: after eight years of wrenching separation, she hasn’t returned home to either of her parents (who divorced before the abduction). Instead, she has been living at Vienna General Hospital, where she is likely to stay for at least another month in the care of a cadre of social workers and psychologists. She has arranged brief, if frequent, visits with her mother but in the first week saw her father only once.

    In fact, an odd custody battle for Kampusch’s allegiance appears to be playing out publicly between her father and the memory of her captor, who threw himself under a train hours after Kampusch escaped. Christoph Feurstein, the journalist who conducted her television interview, says Kampusch is angry at her father for speaking on her behalf to the media; he told an interviewer that she would celebrate her captor’s death. Kampusch, in fact, visited the morgue and saw her abductor before he was buried, and told the world she mourned his death.

    When Stayner escaped 26 years ago, there was little idea that such ambivalent feelings could exist in a child. He was immediately returned to his childhood home, but by many accounts struggled to fit back in. Nine years later, he died in a motor- cycle crash.

    Kampusch says she was fighting with her mother on the day she was abducted. “My mother always used to say that we should never part ways angry,” she said during her television interview, “because something could happen to her or me and we’d never see each other again.” But in the aftermath of such cruel captivity, seeing each other again comes with its own challenges.

    The original article can be found here: http://www.jmichaelbone.com/jmb_site_files/jmb_site_files/jmb_site_files/page24.html

    Lost Children: Parental Alienation Destroys Relationships

    In Divorce, family court, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, mothers rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on November 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    By: John Sedgwick, Photographs: Julia Fullerton-Batten
    Feb 2, 2007 – 7:07:58 PM

    How parental brainwashing can destroy the once-close relationships of kids and their divorced dads

    Jeff Opperman, a 49-year-old corporate-communications officer in Seymour, Connecticut, got the first gut-churning clue of how ruinous his divorce was going to be to his relationship with his younger son the night it became clear he and his wife, Anne, had to part.

    They’d been married for 17 years, but it hadn’t been going well. “We were fighting and drifting apart,” says Opperman, “and the more we fought, the more we drifted apart, and the more we drifted apart, the more we fought.” They decided to hold off telling their 11-year-old son until he’d finished camp that summer. But the marriage was so rocky that Jeff and Anne arrived in separate cars to take him home, leaving it to their son to choose which car to ride home in. He picked his mother’s—a fateful choice, as things turned out. “God knows what she said to him in that car for an hour and a half,” Opperman says.

    The next night, when he and Anne “got into it” in their bedroom, she burst out the door and raced down to their son’s room, where she yelled, Opperman recalls, “the most horrid, disgraceful things, calling me a liar, a cheat, a son of a bitch, just everything.” Tears streamed down his son’s reddened face, but he didn’t try to defend his dad. Instead, to Opperman’s astonishment, he started to chime in, feebly parroting some of his mother’s charges, even though he’d always been close to his father. When Opperman tried to give the boy a reassuring hug, Anne abruptly stepped between them and, claiming that Jeff was going to hurt the boy, threatened to call the police if he came any closer. Opperman backed off, not wanting to risk a bigger scene in front of his son. “My son cried his eyes out,” Opperman recalls. “Just cried and cried.”

    That was 6 years ago, but it established the dynamic by which Jeff became the designated ogre parent and his son became Anne’s exclusive possession. Jeff acknowledges that he hadn’t been a perfect husband. “When a marriage breaks down, both parties are at fault, and ours was no different,” he says. But regardless of who was responsible for the divorce, Jeff feels his ex should have protected their son from the negative aspects of the relationship. Instead, he claims, she burdened their son with her pain and sense of betrayal—and his son responded by aligning himself fully with his mother and emotionally cutting off his dad.

    Although Opperman was granted joint custody and lives just 10 minutes away, he has since seen his son only for the briefest intervals—despite repeatedly taking his ex to court over custody violations. “The court adopts this tough-talking John Wayne attitude,” Opperman recounts. “‘You will take the child to counseling. You will allow the child to maintain relations with the father. You will, you will, you will.’ But my ex doesn’t do any of it—and nothing happens.” Despite all Opperman’s efforts, the court has been both reluctant to force their son to spend time with a father he wants nothing to do with and unwilling to compel his ex-wife by threat of jail time.

    All this leaves Opperman out in the cold. His Christmas and birthday presents to his son go unacknowledged. When Opperman calls, his son will occasionally pick up, but when he hears that it’s his father on the line, he won’t speak. All Jeff hears is his son’s breath in the receiver before he sets the phone down. Last summer, Opperman came to the house to pick up his older son. There were lights on in his younger son’s bedroom, and Opperman could see the back of his son’s head as he stared at a computer screen. Jeff honked the horn, hoping to get his attention. “I was sure he could hear me,” Jeff recalls. “But my son never even turned his head.”

    Opperman’s desperation is hardly unique. About 40 percent of children living with their mothers don’t see their fathers so much as once a year. Even allowing for fathers who are at war, in prison, or otherwise unavailable, statistics like that force the question: Are there really that many men out there who simply don’t care about their kids and vice versa? Or is something more sinister at work?

    The rest of the original article can be found here: http://www.bestlifeonline.com/cms/publish/family-fatherhood/Lost_Children.shtml

    Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to Detect It and What to Do About It

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, mothers rights, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on November 6, 2009 at 1:45 am

    by J. Michael Bone and Michael R. Walsh
    THE FLORIDA BAR JOURNAL, VOL. 73, No. 3, MARCH 1999, p 44-48

    Although parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a familiar term, there is still a great deal of confusion and unclarity about its nature, dimensions, and, therefore, its detection.(1) Its presence, however, is unmistakable. In a longitudinal study of 700 “high conflict” divorce cases followed over 12 years, it was concluded that elements of PAS are present in the vast majority of the samples.(2) Diagnosis of PAS is reserved for mental health professionals who come to the court in the form of expert witnesses.

    Diagnostic hallmarks usually are couched in clinical terms that remain vague and open to interpretation and, therefore. susceptible to argument pro and con by opposing experts. The phenomenon of one parent turning the child against the other parent is not a complicated concept, but historically it has been difficult to identify clearly.

    Consequently, cases involving PAS are heavily litigated, filled with accusations and counter accusations, and thus leave the court with an endless search for details that eventually evaporate into nothing other than rank hearsay. It is our experience that the PAS phenomenon leaves a trail that can be identified more effectively by removing the accusation hysteria, and looking ahead in another positive direction.

    For the purpose of this article the authors are assuming a fair degree of familiarity with parental alienation syndrome on the part of the reader.(3) There are many good writings on PAS which the reader may wish to consult now or in the future for general information. Our focus here is much more narrow. Specifically, the goal is twofold. First we will describe four very specific criteria that can be used to identify potential PAS.

    In most instances, these criteria can be identified through the facts of the case, but also can be revealed by deposition or court testimony. Secondly, we wish to introduce the concept of “attempted” PAS; that is when the criteria of PAS are present, but the child is not successfully alienated from the absent parent. This phenomenon is still quite harmful and the fact of children not being alienated should not be viewed as neutral by the court.

    Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood.

    The criteria described below are fairly easy to identify separate and apart from the court file. When there is uncertainty about any of them, these criteria can be used to guide the attorney in the deposing of witnesses as well as in their examination in court.

    Criteria I: Access and Contact Blocking

    Criteria I involves the active blocking of access or contact between the child and the absent parent. The rationale used to justify it may well take many different forms. One of the most common is that of protection. It may be argued that the absent parent’s parental judgment is inferior and, therefore, the child is much worse off from the visit. In extreme cases, this will take the form of allegations of child abuse, quite often sexual abuse.

    This will be addressed in more detail in Criteria II, but suffice it to say that often this is heard as a reason for visitation to be suspended or even terminated. On a more subtle and common level, an argument heard for the blocking of visitation is that seeing the absent parent is “unsettling” to the child, and that they need time “to adjust.” The message here is that the absent parent is treated less like a key family member and more like an annoying acquaintance that the child must see at times. Over time, this pattern can have a seriously erosive effect on the child’s relationship with the absent parent. An even more subtle expression of this is that the visitation is “inconvenient,” thereby relegating it to the status of an errand or chore. Again the result is the erosion of the relationship between the child and the absent or “target” parent. One phenomenon often seen in this context is that any deviation from the schedule is used as a reason to cancel visitation entirely.

    The common thread to all of these tactics is that one parent is superior and the other is not and, therefore, should be peripheral to the child’s life. The alienating parent in these circumstances is acting inappropriately as a gatekeeper for the child to see the absent parent. When this occurs for periods of substantial time, the child is given the unspoken but clear message that one parent is senior to the other. Younger children are more vulnerable to this message and tend to take it uncritically; however, one can always detect elements of it echoed even into the teenage years. The important concept here is that each parent is given the responsibility to promote a positive relationship with the other parent. When this principle is violated in the context of blocking access on a consistent basis, one can assume that Criteria I has been, unmistakably identified.

    Criteria II: Unfounded Abuse Allegations

    The second criteria is related to false or unfounded accusations of abuse against the absent parent. The most strident expression of this is the false accusation of sexual abuse.(4) It has been well studied that the incident of false allegations of sexual abuse account for over half of those reported, when the parents are divorcing or are in conflict over some post dissolution issue.(5)

    This is especially the situation with small children who are more vulnerable to the manipulations implied by such false allegations. When the record shows that even one report of such abuse is ruled as unfounded, the interviewer is well advised to look for other expressions of false accusations.

    Other examples of this might be found in allegations of physical abuse that investigators later rule as being unfounded. Interestingly our experience has been that there are fewer false allegations of physical abuse than of other forms of abuse, presumably because physical abuse leaves visible evidence. It is, of course, much easier to falsely accuse someone of something that leaves no physical sign and has no third party witnesses.

    A much more common expression of this pattern would be that of what would be termed emotional abuse. When false allegations of emotional abuse are leveled, one often finds that what is present is actually differing parental judgment that is being framed as “abusive” by the absent parent.

    For example, one parent may let a child stay up later at night than the other parent would, and this scheduling might be termed as being “abusive” or “detrimental” to the child. Or one parent might introduce a new “significant other” to the child before the other parent believes that they should and this might also be called “abusive” to the child. Alternatively one parent might enroll a child in an activity with which the other parent disagrees and this activity is, in actuality, a difference of parental opinion that is now described as being abusive in nature. These examples, as trivial as they seem individually, may be suggestive of a theme of treating parental difference in inappropriately subjective judgmental terms. If this theme is present, all manner of things can be described in ways that convey the message of abuse, either directly or indirectly. When this phenomenon occurs in literally thousands of different ways and times, each of which seems insignificant on its own, the emotional atmosphere that it creates carries a clearly alienating effect on the child.

    Obviously, this type of acrimony is very common in dissolution actions but such conflict should not necessarily be mistaken or be taken as illustrative of the PAS syndrome; however, the criteria is clearly present and identifiable when the parent is eager to hurl abuse allegations, rather than being cautious, careful. and even reluctant to do so. This latter stance is more in keeping with the parent’s responsibility to encourage and affirmatively support a relationship with the other parent. The responsible parent will only allege abuse after he or she has tried and failed to rationalize why the issue at hand is not abusive. Simply put, the responsible parent will give the other parent the benefit of the doubt when such allegations arise. He or she will, if anything, err on the side of denial, whereas the alienating parent will not miss an opportunity to accuse the other parent. When this theme is present in a clear and consistent way, this criteria for PAS is met.

    Criteria III: Deterioration in Relationship Since Separation

    The third of the criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is probably the least described or identified, but critically is one of the most important. It has to do with the existence of a positive relationship between the minor children and the now absent or nonresidential parent, prior to the marital separation; and a substantial deterioration, of it since then. Such a recognized decline does not occur on its own. It is, therefore, one of the most important indicators of the presence of alienation as well. as a full measure of its relative “success.” By way of example, if a father had a good and involved relationship with the children prior to the separation, and a very distant one since, then one can only assume without explicit proof to the contrary that something caused it to change. If this father is clearly trying to maintain a positive relationship with the children through observance of visitation and other activities and the children do not want to see him or have him involved in their lives, then one can only speculate that an alienation process may have been in operation. Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked. Therefore, any dramatic change in this area is virtually always an indicator of an alienation process that has had some success in the past.

    Most notably, if a careful evaluation of the pre-separation parental relationship is not made, its omission creates an impression that the troubled or even alienated status that exists since is more or lees an accurate summary of what existed previously. Note that nothing could be further from the truth! An alienated or even partially or intermittently alienated relationship with the nonresidential parent and the children after the separation is more accurately a distortion of the real parental relationship in question. Its follow-through is often overlooked in the hysterical atmosphere that is often present in these cases. A careful practitioner well knows that a close examination is warranted and that it must be conducted with the utmost detail and scrutiny.

    If this piece of the puzzle is left out, the consequences can be quite devastating for the survival of this relationship. Also, without this component, the court can be easily swayed into premature closure or fooled into thinking that the turmoil of the separation environment is representative of the true parent-child relationship. Once this ruling is made by the court, it is an exacting challenge to correct its perception.

    In a separate but related issue, a word should be said about the use of experts. First, it must be understood that all mental health professionals are not aware of nor know how to treat the PAS phenomenon. In fact, when a mental health professional unfamiliar with PAS is called upon to make a recommendation about custody, access, or related issues, he or she potentially can do more harm than good. For example, if the psychologist fails to investigate the pre-separation relationship of the nonresidential parent and the children, he or she may very easily mistake the current acrimony in that relationship to be representative of it, and recommend that the children should have less visitation with that parent, obviously supporting the undiagnosed PAS that is still in progress. If that expert also fails to evaluate critically the abuse claims or the agenda of the claimant, they may be taken at face value and again potentially support the undiagnosed PAS. If that professional is not also sensitive to the subtleties of access and contact blocking as its motivator, he or she may potentially support it, thereby contributing to the PAS process. When these things occur, the mental health professional expert has actually become part of the PAS, albeit unwittingly. Alarmingly, this happens often. Suffice it to say, if PAS is suspected, the attorney should closely and carefully evaluate the mental health professional’s investigation and conclusion. Failure to do so can cause irreparable harm to the case, and, ultimately to the children.

    Criteria IV: Intense Fear Reaction by Children

    The fourth criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is admittedly more psychological than the first three. It refers to an obvious fear reaction on the part of the children, of displeasing or disagreeing with the potentially alienating parent in regard to the absent or potential target parent. Simply put, an alienating parent operates by the adage, “My way or the highway.” If the children disobey this directive, especially in expressing positive approval of the absent parent, the consequences can be very serious. It is not uncommon for an alienating parent to reject the child(ren), often telling him or her that they should go live with the target parent. When this does occur one often sees that this threat is not carried out, yet it operates more as a message of constant warning. The child, in effect, is put into a position of being the alienating parent’s “agent” and is continually being put through various loyalty tests. The important issue here is that the alienating patent thus forces the child to choose parents. This, of course, is in direct opposition to a child’s emotional well being.

    In order to fully appreciate this scenario, one must realize that the PAS process operates in a “fear based” environment. It is the installation of fear by the alienating parent to the minor children that is the fuel by which this pattern is driven; this fear taps into what psychoanalysis tell us is the most basic emotion inherent in human nature–the fear of abandonment. Children under these conditions live in a state of chronic upset and threat of reprisal. When the child does dare to defy the alienating parent, they quickly learn that there is a serious price to pay. Consequently, children who live such lives develop an acute sense of vigilance over displeasing the alienating parent. The sensitized observer can see this in visitation plans that suddenly change for no apparent reason. For example, when the appointed time approaches, the child suddenly changes his or her tune and begins to loudly protest a visit that was not previously complained about. It is in these instances that a court, once suspecting PAS must enforce in strict terms the visitation schedule which otherwise would not have occurred or would have been ignored.

    The alienating parent can most often be found posturing bewilderment regarding the sudden change in their child’s feelings about the visit. In fact, the alienating parent often will appear to be the one supporting visitation. This scenario is a very common one in PAS families. It is standard because it encapsulates and exposes, if only for an instant, the fear-based core of the alienation process. Another way to express this concept would be that whenever the child is given any significant choice in the visitation, he or she is put in the position to act out a loyalty to the alienating parent’s wishes by refusing to have the visitation at all with the absent parent. Failure to do so opens the door for that child’s being abandoned by the parent with whom the child lives the vast majority of the time. Children, under these circumstances, will simply not opt on their own far a free choice. The court must thus act expeditiously to protect them and employ a host of specific and available remedies.(6)

    As a consequence of the foregoing, these children learn to manipulate. Children often play one parent against the other in an effort to gain some advantage. In the case of PAS, the same dynamic operates at more desperate level. No longer manipulating to gain advantage, these children learn to manipulate just to survive. They become expert beyond their years at reading the emotional environment, telling partial truths, and then telling out-and-out lies. One must, however, remember that these are survival strategies that they were forced to learn in order to keep peace at home and avoid emotional attack by the residential parent. Given this understanding, it is perhaps easier to see why children, in an effort to cope with this situation, often find it easier if they begin to internalize the alienating parent’s perceptions of the absent parent and begin to echo these feelings. This is one of the most compelling and dramatic effects of PAS, that is, hearing a child vilifying the absent parent and joining the alienating parent in such attacks. If one is not sensitive to the “fear-based” core at the heart of this, it is difficult not to take the child’s protests at face value. This, of course, is compounded when the expert is also not sensitive to this powerful fear component, and believes that the child is voicing his or her own inner feelings in endorsing the “no visitation” plan.

    Conclusion

    All the criteria listed above can be found independent of each other in highly contested dissolutions, but remember that the appearance of some of them does not always constitute PAS. When all four are clearly present, however, add the possibility of real abuse has been reasonably ruled out, the parental alienation process is operative. This does not necessarily mean, however, that it is succeeding in that the children are being successfully alienated from the target parent. The best predictor of successful alienation is directly related to the success of the alienating parent at keeping the children from the target parent. When there are substantial periods in which they do not see the other parent, the children are more likely to be poisoned by the process. Another variable that predicts success is the child’s age. Younger children generally are more vulnerable than older ones. Also, another variable is the depth and degree of involvement of the pre-separation parent-child relationship. The longer and more involved that relationship, the less vulnerable will be the children to successful alienation. The final predictor is the parental tenacity of the target parent. A targeted parent often gives up and walks away, thus greatly increasing the chances of successful alienation.

    The question remains: What if all four criteria are present, but the children are not successfully alienated? Should this failure at alienation be seen as nullifying the attempt at alienation? The answer to that should be a resounding “No!” It should be, but often it is not. It is very common to read a psychological evaluation or a GAL’s report that identified PAS but then notes that since it was not successful, it should not be taken very seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood, which is to promote and encourage a positive and loving relationship with the other parent, and the concept of shared parental responsibility.

    It is our feeling that when attempted PAS has been identified, successful or not, it must be dealt with swiftly by the court. If it is not, it will contaminate and quietly control all other parenting issues and then lead only to unhappiness, frustration, and, lastly, parental estrangement.

    1 PAS syndrome applies and relates equally to the nonresidential, as well as the residential parent. D.C. Rand, The Spectrum of Parental Alienation Syndrome. 15 Am. J. Forensic Psychol. No. 3 (1997).

    2 S.S. Clawar and B.V. Rivlin, Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children, A.B.A. (1991).

    3 M. Walsh and J.M. Bone. Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Age-Old Custody Problem, 71 Fla. B.J. 93 (June 1997).

    4 N. Theonnee and P.G. Tjaden, The Extent, Nature and Validity of Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody Visitation Disputes, 12 Child Abuse and Neglect 151-63 (1990).

    5 National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Washington, D.C.: Department of Health and Human Services, 2998, Contract 105-85-1702.

    6 The appointment of a guardian ad litem, the appointment of an expert to conduct a psychological evaluation of the child and the parents, the employment of make-up or substitute access and contact, or an enlargement of same to the nonresidential parent, and as previously suggested by the authors in their last article, a consideration for entry of a multidirectional order. Walsh and Bone, supra note .3

    J. Michael Bone, Ph.D., is a sole practice psychotherapist and certified family law mediator in Maitland. He concentrates in divorce and post-divorce issues involving minor children, and has a special interest in PAS. He has served as on expert witness on these and related topics and has been appointed by the court to make recommendations involving PAS and families.

    Michael R. Walsh is a sole practitioner in Orlando. He is a board certified marital and family law lawyer, certified mediator and arbitrator, and a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. For more than 20 years, he has been a frequent lecturer and author for The Florida Bar.

    This column is submitted on behalf of the Family Law Section, Jane L. Estreicher, chair, and Sharon O. Taylor, editor.

    The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/walsh99.htm

    Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome

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

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

    Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome

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

    3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

    Abstract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Allegations of fabricated sexual abuse may be virtual.

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

    3. Time heals all wounds, except alienation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    9. Further research is needed.

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

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

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

    References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

    Loads of Info on Parental Alienation | angiEmedia

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights on November 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Loads of Info on Parental Alienation

    Written by: Alison
    Use of Our Content (Reposting and Quoting)

    (Click here for more coverage on parental alienation.)

    Parental alienation involves the persistent behavior of an alienating parent making a strong effort to cause the children to hate the target parent. Bad-mouthing the target parent in the presence of the children is nearly always involved. But it is not just occasional — it is a consistent pattern. Often the alienating parent will recruit other people to join in bad-mouthing the target parent. What these people likely fail to realize is that they are committing emotional child abuse.

    Parental alienation is a huge problem, especially in divorce cases involving personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. When parental alienation is involved in personality disordered divorce cases, it can often include the alienating parent fabricating child abuse allegations and training the children to repeat them. Even if it doesn’t succeed at making the children hate the target parent, such tactics can literally land the target parent in jail and bankrupt him or her with legal fees mounting a defense against false allegations.

    We stumbled across the web site mentioned below in this posting that offers literally dozens of links to very good information on parental alienation (also known as “Hostile Aggressive Parenting”) and PAS (Parental Alienation Synrome). If you’re interesting in learning more about these topics, the reading could keep you busy learning for hours.

    Click this link for more information:
    F.A.C.T. Information: Parental Alienation

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    Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence

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

    Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kids Understand Impact of Father Absence.

    Japanese Dads Trying to Start a Fathers’ Rights Wave There | Glenn Sacks on MND

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Single Parenting, UNCRC, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on October 12, 2009 at 6:09 pm
    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    By Robert Franklin, Esq.

    OK, so it’s worse in Japan.

    As this article shows, Japanese divorce law, while nicely gender-neutral in its wording, results in mothers being the overwhelming majority of custodial parents after divorce (Fox News, 10/8/09).  The real difference between Japanese divorce law and that of the U.S. and other western nations is that, post divorce, only one parent is permitted custody.  That is, there’s no “joint custody,” which in the U.S. typically means one parent with physical custody and the other with visitation rights.

    And it should come as no surprise that, in Japan, the parent with custody is the mother in 90% of cases.  That leaves fathers who want a relationship with their children and children who want a relationship with their father out in the cold.  From what the article says, neither seems to have any rights to contact with the other.  One father discussed in the article, Masahiro Yoshida, asked a family court for visitation rights with his daughter and was turned down.  Post-divorce family law places the power to grant or deny father-child contact squarely in the hands of the mother.

    Now, that may seem like merely the official version of what happens unofficially here in the U.S.  Indeed, at first blush, it’s possible to say that the Japanese are just more honest than we are.  They prefer maternal custody.  Period.

    We, on the other hand, make many plaintive bleats about connecting fathers with children.  We occasionally even acknowledge that children are better off with two parents than one.  But then we turn around and give primary custody to mothers 84% of the time.  (Is that so different from the 90% maternal custody in Japan?)  We make a show of granting visitation to fathers, but then don’t enforce the orders.  So children are denied their fathers just as surely as in Japan, just more hypocritically.

    And that’s just one of many ways that we too place almost all power over children in the hands of mothers.  From conception through age 18, any single mother with two brain cells can manage to keep a child from its father legally and without too much effort.

    But in fact, even the U.S. seems to be ahead of Japan in fathers’ rights issues.  Fathers here are becoming more assertive about their rights and courts are starting to listen.  The huge mass of sociology about the benefits of fathers to children is becoming more widely known and acknowledged.  The words “equally shared parenting” are becoming common too.

    Fathers in Japan are starting to get the message.  As the linked-to article says,

    Yoshida has banded together with other divorced fathers to form a support group, one of several that have sprung up in recent years.

    A few lawyers and lawmakers have showed support for their cause. A bar association group is studying parenting and visitation arrangements in other countries such as Australia.

    That’s a long way from an effective movement, but with the rest of the industrialized world moving in the direction of greater protection for the father-child bond, can Japan be far behind?

    Japanese Dads Trying to Start a Fathers’ Rights Wave There | Glenn Sacks on MND.

    Fathers’ Rights: Top Ten Things Divorced Dads Need to Realize

    In Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parents rights on September 22, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    I have to agree with this 100 percent.  Children do not have “visitors” in their lives, but moms and dads.  Dads never divorce their children and it is time the court recognize dads are forced into divorce 80 percent of the time by moms, and then children are forced into a relationship with only one parent.  It is a cruelty that is forced upon children, and dads served with divorce papers and restraining orders must realize they are just as important in the lives of their children after the divorce. – Parental Rights

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Top Ten Things Divorced Dads Need to Realize

    by: Joel Schwartzberg

    Top Ten Things Divorced Dads Need to Realize

    It seems like a new celebrity father gets divorced every week. Recent divorced dads include Jon Gosselin, Robin Williams, Usher, Mel Gibson, Bradley Whitford, Edward Furlong, and Thomas Jane — and those are just the famous ones. Roughly half of all American marriages end in divorce and some studies suggest 60% of those splits involve children.

    But while there’s abundant advice directing divorced fathers to avoid “screwing up” the kids, 2009-07-23-dads.jpgthere’s little out there to help dads appreciate the big parenting opportunity — yes, opportunity — before them.

    Below are, IMHO, the ten most important things divorced fathers should realize as they transition parentally from “Husband and Father” to “One-and-Only Dad”:

    1) You divorced your ex, not your kids

    Many divorced dads disconnect from their kids when they separate from their ex-wives, but the divorce can actually be an opportunity to re-connect with your children — this time on your own terms.

    2) The only parenting expectations worth a damn are your own

    Divorce freed you from not only your ex-wife’s expectations, but those of your parents, her parents, Dr. Phil, and all those dads you see talking joyously about fatherhood on television. You’re the expert when it comes to your kids. Create your own expectations and standards.

    3) There’s no such thing as a part-time dad

    You’re either a dad or you’re not. Many divorced dads spend more time with their kids than fathers in intact families. But no matter how much time you spend with your children, if you commit to it regularly and responsibly, you’re a dad. Period. Exclamation point.

    4) You are not a babysitter

    There’s no need to constantly take your children on expensive adventures, shower them with gifts, or keep them perpetually entertained, as if filling a perceived hole in their happiness. They are just as happy to simply be with you as you are to be with them.

    5) Your children have two homes…and two sets of rules

    Your kids don’t “visit” you; they live with you. They have one home with Mom and another with Dad. And if they can adapt themselves to different rules between home and school, they can do the same between home and home. The phrase “But Mom lets us” carries no weight in your home.

    6) You have an “inner dad”

    There’s an “inner dad” inside you. He’s the one who tells you when it’s OK to let your son stay up late, when it’s appropriate to be interrupted on the phone by a whining daughter, and whether a tense situation calls for stern rules or just an all-out, no-shoes family wrestling match. You’ll get to know that inner dad gradually, moment by moment, and in the process become a more genuine dad — the best kind of dad you can be.

    7) Most kids can cope

    Divorce doesn’t necessarily mean therapy time for your kids. Studies show that many children cope well with divorce, especially if there’s joint custody and the kids are encouraged to openly express their feelings and fears. When I got divorced, a quick internet search told me I was ruining both my and my children’s lives. But it didn’t go down like that — in fact, I now feel like a better dad than I’ve ever been and I’ve stopped treating Google like my conscience.

    8) You can do what you like

    Too many moms and dads feel martyrdom is a necessary part of the parenting process. Find those things that you and your children honestly enjoy together — going to the movies, having cart-races at Kmart, bowling, or impulsively getting pizza in the mid-afternoon. Your children love nothing more than watching you enjoy yourself with them. And it’s way more fun than standing on the playground sidelines checking your Blackberry, isn’t it?

    9) Your issues with the ex don’t belong in your kids’ lives

    Like the corn and mashed potatoes on your first-grader’s plate, your parenting should be separated from any conflicts you have with your ex. Children need to know their parents’ love is unconditional and impenetrable, even and especially in the face of something as potentially devastating as divorce.

    10) You’ll screw up…and that’s okay.

    Making mistakes is as fundamental in parenting as making dinner. Own up to them — your kids will learn that they can too.


    Joel Schwartzberg is a father of three, an award-winning essayist, and author of the first-of-its kind collection of personal essays from the perspective of a divorced father, “The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad”

    Fathers’ Rights: Top Ten Things Divorced Dads Need to Realize.

    Moms Maltreatment of Children 11 Times Greater Than Dads

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, mothers rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Single Moms, Sociopath on September 22, 2009 at 6:00 am

    “What I find sad is the constant denial/skewing of statistics by father’s rights and men’s rights advocates that show moms are just as bad.” – Nancy Carroll aka rightsformothers

    Moms are worse, Nancy Carroll…. 1100 percent worse... More fathers are winning custody from abusive moms. The only thing “skewed” is your ability to read FACTS and STATISTICS. Dads are far more protective of children than moms are. Read the statistics below:

    https://mkg4583.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/child-maltreatment-2007-1100-percent-increase-by-mom-alone/