As we begin the build up to the EAPAP Conference in London next month, I have something exciting to announce for parents who are affected by parental alienation on around the world. First off a unique opportunity to work with two therapists who share a great deal in common in both practice and thinking about […]
What is parallel parenting and how is it different from Co-Parenting? Psychologist Alice R. Berkowitz explains.
Parallel Parenting is reserved for High Conflict Divorces. Parallel Parenting is for parents that still carry a great deal of animosity for one another (or at least one parent carries animosity for the other), cannot work together, continue to fight in front of the children, disrespect the other parent, cannot be consistent in their childrearing – in fact they often work to make the other parent even if it hurts the children.
The rules for are:
1. Strict Parenting Plan
This is usually worked out by an evaluator, parent coordinator, or a judge. The schedule of when the children are to be with one parent and then the other is spelled out in a court order, including vacation days, holidays, etc. Drop-offs and Pick-ups are done either at school (when school is in session), at camp (during the summer-if they go to camp), by a neutral third party when school or camp are not in session, and if there is not a neutral third party, at a public place like in front of a store (or right inside of a store if they live in a cold part of the country), in an outside mall, or in very serious cases – inside a police station. There is no flexibility in changing days or if one parent travels for work, make up time must be planned for in a court-monitored email.
2. Parental Contact can only be through Court Monitored Email Service or if that does not exist, emails or faxes
Communication between parents is to be strictly confined to changes in schedules (if one parent is traveling), if a child is ill, school reports, or to inform the other parent of an important issue with one of the children. Contact is limited to avoid conflict and fighting and to protect the children from the animosity between parents.
3. Parent Teacher Conferences and Other School Events
Parents are to schedule separate parent-teacher conferences. If needed, a court order can be sent to the school to assure that this occurs. At all other events, especially when children are present, parents are to split up the events – either by event or one parent can go to first half and the other second half. This excludes large school activities, like football, basketball, hockey, or baseball games or graduations, where there are many people and parents can avoid interacting. However, if there is an incident at any of these larger activities, one or both parents needs to report this to the minor’s counselor on the case, the parent coordinator, or their attorney. The idea is to protect the children from seeing negative interactions between the parents, as well as to protect the parents from experiencing them.
4. Agreed Upon General Rules for Each Household
In Parallel Parenting Situations – a set of household rules is agreed upon by both parents with either a custody evaluator, minor’s counselor, parent coordinator or judge. Clearly, the rules in each house cannot be the same, but the idea is to try to structure certain rules for the children that are consistent at each house. For example, bedtimes, showers or baths, morning schedules, mealtimes, homework times, brushing teeth and hair, curfews, driving, dating, etc. The basic rules around taking care of the children are what is hopefully set and carried through.
5. NO NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT THE OTHER PARENT
This is critical for the children. They may not say it, but it hurts them deeply to hear one parent speak negatively about the other. It also injures their sense of trust in relationships and may cause deeper levels of emotional problems.
Parallel Parenting is Similar to Being Two Partners in a Corporation who may not like Each Other, but if they Don’t Work Together the Company will go Under. When I teach parenting classes to High Conflict Couples, I start with this premise. Do you want this corporation that you have built to go under because you two don’t like each other? How can you work together, both being heads of a money-making corporation that supports many people, without fighting and without having much contact except for emails with each other? There is a great deal more to this, but this is the notion that actually really helps high conflict couples disengage personally and begin to look at their family as a company that they need to run. It becomes much more task-oriented and each party over the ten weeks becomes less angry. It does not work for everyone, but for people that know they are hurting their kids and have to find another way at looking at parenting with someone they have been so hurt or angered by, this approach can be very successful.
If you are currently co-parenting with a narcissist, my heart goes out to you.
I read countless stories every day from people in this community who are experiencing the daily frustrations, twist and turns, insanity and gut-wrenching nastiness that goes with trying to co-parent with a narcissist.
You may constantly be worried about how your children are being treated, including if the narcissist is poisoning them against you, or WORSE … if they are turning your child into a narcissist.
And it can be beyond horrible for your children caught in the middle, seeing your distress and pain and witnessing the conflicts between their parents.
Up until now, the term co-parenting is what we understand to be the role we take with a narcissist once separated.
However, the word ‘co’ would almost suggest being a team or working together with the mutual goal of caretaking our children, such as being able to collaborate healthily for the good of the child.
Yet we all know this is NOT possible in narcissistic co-parenting situations.
This is why I believe we need a paradigm shift in the co-parenting community. We need a NEW way where you can take your children out of the conflicts between you and the narcissist, and also remove yourself from the trauma of trying to deal with someone who just won’t cooperate – so that you can be as healthy as possible for your children.
This can be done by adopting – Parallel Parenting.
This is a powerful, revolutionary way to have strict boundaries and even hold the narcissist accountable for their narcissistic behaviour.
Parallel parenting is about have joint custody with your children in a way that works, as effectively as possible, given the difficult circumstances.
In this very important Thriver TV episode, I explain WHAT Parallel Parenting is, how it can be done, the ways and moves you can make to enforce effective, accountable third-party communication channels … and the BENEFITS of parenting in this way.
Within this episode, I share with you my knowledge and observations of co-parenting with narcissists, which I have learned over the last 10 years, as well as a dear friend’s invaluable information, regarding his incredible knowledge and experience whilst parallel parenting with a high-level narcissistic.
[Source: Narcissism and Relationships Blog
By: Melanie Tonia Evans
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Expert, Healer, Author, Radio Host]
My husband, the targeted parent in our particular situation dealing with Parental Alienation and Grandparent Alienation, is now gone.
He was diagnosed with a brain tumor (glioblastoma) in June 2015. He had brain surgery, underwent chemotherapy, radiation and all the other various treatments involved with this disease. One of the things he was most adamant about was putting pen to paper and sharing his story of parental alienation and grandparent alienation.
After his brain surgery, he had great difficult writing, but he persevered. Here is his story, in his own words:
Tears are streaming down my face as I share this. He and I were together for over 34 years, and married for over 33 years. He was an incredible man and deserved to be a father to his children, and a grandfather to his grandchildren. There was no reason to keep him from his children or his grandchildren, other than ……. well, how do I even try to explain why someone would keep him from his children and grandchildren? Because there is no reason, and there is no explanation.
It was a heartbreaking situation and there was no reason for it.
Here’s his narrative:
It’s time I put some facts in writing about my relationship with my children. Having a relationship with L*** and C***** was difficult due to their mother’s interference. I have many letters from D**** showing how difficult she made things. L*** and C***** are loyal to their mother but they never stood up to her and tell her that the things she was doing were hurt full. One week we would see the girls then the next we wouldn’t. For 25 years this went on. The girls learned from their mother if there’s something you don’t like you don’t let me have visitation. I didn’t stop seeing my grandchildren, they were kept from me. Much has been said about C***** in this matter. C***** is not the villain here no matter what some people say. Those people are only trying to remake history. This has happened too many times in the past. Will it happen again? I lost 7 years of seeing my grandchildren that needs to be talked about! C***** is my wife. Ignoring her is not going to make her go away. She has to be included in any conversations we have. D**** R******* continues to put herself in my business. For us to go any further, this has to stop! Only you girls can make that happen.
Our targeted parent was never able to finish his story. Brain cancer robbed him of his ability to write very early on.
Luckily he was able to reconcile with his oldest daughter a few years before his death and got to know her child — his granddaughter. His daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were such a joy to him in his final years. It’s a shame they missed out on several years with this incredible man, but I think everyone made up for it at the end. He cherished them and they were all with him — laughing and enjoying being together — until the bitter end.
The tears are flowing again …….
And then we come to my part in his story. I fell madly in love with a dashing 32 year old man, with two daughters. I had two sons from my first marriage, so we seemed destined to create our own little Brady Bunch …. minus two. 🙂
Fast forward to a 67 year old, dying of brain cancer. When he was told he had a brain tumor in 2015, his first words were to me: how are you going to get home? Oh my! The man was told he had a brain tumor and his first concern was about me. And, trust me, I managed to get home just fine. When he entered hospice, the chaplain spoke to him, and all he would say is that he didn’t want to leave me. I didn’t want him to leave me either. How do you let go of such a loving, caring man? Why was this loving , caring man denied a relationship with his children and grandchildren?
And, as you can see from his letter, he wanted everyone to know that I wasn’t to blame for everything that went on — and that I should be included in any conversations about our family. My protector, hard at work again. Maybe he was wrong about that, but his steadfast love for me shown through in his narrative to his children. Their mother (and his youngest daughter) blamed me for everything that had happened and my Knight in Shining Armor stood up and defended me to the end.
That, my friends, is true love.
This story is a tragedy in some sense in that my husband went years without seeing his children and grandchildren, but then it’s also a story of what true love can conquer. After all that we went through — no visitation with his children, the telephone calls and letters from his ex-wife, the fights with the children, not seeing his beloved grandchildren for years — we persevered and when he took his final breath, he knew he had enjoyed years with his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter — as well as the rest of the family.
And when he took that final breath, I was at his side, saying I Love You to the man who was my rock, my soul mate and my love for so many years …….
Death leaves a heartache
no one can heal;
Love leaves a memory no
one can steal.
Manipulation of a child’s mind and attachment bonds in a negative way is abusive. So is Parental Alienation.
There are times in divorce when one parent hates his/her spouse more than he/she loves his children. When this occurs, toxic things happen. Things such as parental alienation.
Parental alienation, when a child turns away from a parent in an extreme form, can occur in both intact and divorced families and in families where the alienating parent is the primary residential caregiver or not or when the parenting plan gives equal timesharing.
Both genders have the potential to be the targeted parent. Mothers, despite typically holding the brunt of the childcare activities, even today, are not immune to being on the receiving end of the alienation. And it is not necessarily related to the time-sharing plan, although there may be a correlation. Fathers can have the classic every other week visitation, joint time sharing or the bulk of the residential requirements and even an occasional visitation because it’s not so much about access when you are dealing with a pathological personality.
It happens when one parent, the alienating parent, typically has a personality disorder, often of the borderline and/or narcissistic type.
How does it begin? Harboring contempt predates the onset of the behaviors that characterize this process. But when it starts it is the alienating parent that, most obviously or quite subtly, makes derogatory comments, demeans, negates and even berates the targeted, often good parent. And yes, this can occur quite subtly, depending upon how manipulative the alienating parent is.
Comments are soon accompanied by a stonewalling of sorts to the targeted parents: “Sarah is not feeling great tonight so she can’t have her sleepover”, “Blake has a big test on Monday and wants to stay here to study and meet with his tutor.” The latter becomes harder when the targeting parent is the non-custodial parent and the time-sharing is limited. But nevertheless, particularly with virulent personalities, anything can occur at any time.
9 Warning Signs that Parental Alienation is Present
Early warning signs of parental alienation might include things like:
- Exclusionary requests by the child (don’t come to my baseball games)
- Oppositional or oppositional-defiant disorder in a child that previously demonstrated none or minimal symptoms
- Shut out or requests made by the child to not attend parent/teacher conferences.
- Shut out from school meetings (by the other parent via subtle and not so subtle methods) and no longer listed as contact parent for school/camp
- Being challenged by your child; they become argumentative and combative and, in the extreme form, exhibit provocations to the point of explosive rage reactions back to your child
- A sense of entitlement to receive parental tasks/gifts yet arrogance of how they are better than this parent
- A failure of the child to identify any prior positive bonding experiences
- denigration of the targeted parent that he/she can’t do anything right. In fact, you might hear words from the targeting parent repeated which can be very triggering
- the child takes responsibility for the alienation and rejection; it was their idea. When confronted they don’t acknowledge manipulation by the pathological parent; in fact, they hold the process of rejecting as their own.
Pathogenic parenting is such that the parent’s approach is so aberrant that it creates in the child psychopathology, that can be transient, or, if not intervened, chronic and longstanding and develop into a personality disorder as well.
When to be Vigilant in Dealing with Parental Alienation
It has been clearly documented that parental alienation occurs in families in which one (sometimes both) parents have a personality disorder, typically that of the borderline and/or narcissistic types. Healthy parents don’t produce this sort of pattern. In fact, according to Dr. Craig Childress, Psychologist, and expert in PAS, children don’t turn away from parents unless there is a perpetrator lurking and a perpetrator to whom a child is afraid. Think about it-children don’t turn away from pathologic parenting; they are too afraid. But they will turn away from a loving kind healthier version; there is nothing to fear there. These are the parents of whom the child is most afraid to lose; not the parent with whom they can feel consistently safe and loved.
So, for you, the mom, if your husband has shown signs or has been diagnosed with a severe personality disorder, typically of the type mentioned, I suggest you be vigilant and aware. And, as noted earlier, this can happen even when that parent has limited access to the children; that is how vitreous the sick parent can be. Remember, people listen to a narcissist; they believe him, mostly out of fear. Children don’t know that but you should.
Why be Vigilant
There are very few things worse than when a parent is shut out. In fact, parental alienation is not for family court, although that is how it is handled; instead, it is child abuse. Manipulation of a child’s mind and attachment bonds in a negative way is abusive. It weakens the bond between mother and child and impedes upon the development of the self of the child. While on the outside it appears to have given them power, in essence, it weakens them by not allowing them access to their true selves. And they know that they are the unifying power since without them there would be no continuation of the family; this creates a whole host of complicated emotions.
Further, it is bad for the family. It creates chaos, a lack of cohesion, stimulates unhealthy subgroups and interferes with sibling bonds. It interrupts the natural course of the family.
Divorce/Separation causes sadness, grief, anger, fear amongst other complicated emotions and when these come out they may be expressed around and to the children. When the angry parent says/does things to turn the child away from the parent things become complicated.
The child, due to loyalty to both parents and typically fear of the angry parent, allies with them and starts to believe what they are saying about the other parent, who is typically not only the good parent but perhaps the only good parent during this process. So in order for the child to not have to face their own pain regarding their targeted parent, they shut that out and turn away. That is the dynamic right there. While conflicted, its much easier for them to not face themselves, even into adulthood, and stay away.
A Few Do’s and Don’ts
If you suspect at all that your soon to be ex-spouse or current spouse, has any degree of a personality disorder mentioned about, be cautious.
Don’t react to their defiance and/or eventual provocations. Do respond in the way that you have been and with further love and limits. Don’t accuse the other parent or refer to the other parent in that way: do take the high road. Be very aware of your own boundaries and how/if/when they are being crossed. If you have concerns, talk to a professional. When a child changes behavior there is always something behind it. When a child shows signs of alienation, there is always a perpetrator lurking.
This article originally appeared on Divorced Moms:
Today is Father’s Day in the UK and all around the land children will be marking the day for their dads. For some there will be no card or present, no telephone call or good wishes. For some children there will be no opportunity to give these and for others the opportunity will be denied […]
Please watch and share, this is the only way to let our children know we still love them despite what they have been told!!!
By: Edward Kruk, Ph.D.
Every day I receive emails from alienated parents and extended family members distraught over the suffering of their children as well as their own grief and frustrated by their powerlessness to protect their children from the egregious form of emotional child abuse that is parental alienation. In addition, I get numerous replies to my postings on the topic of parental alienation bemoaning the lack of concrete suggestions and solutions to the problem. I struggle in being unable to offer constructive advice or suggest practical steps that parents and extended family members can take, especially in light of the widespread professional misunderstanding and seeming indifference to the plight of these parents and their children.
Like many commentators, I have only been able to offer bland platitudes in regard to concrete action steps that parents can take to fight against the alienation of their children. I reassure myself that it helps parents to have a label for what they and their children are going through and to know that they are not alone. I urge them to take the high road, and always respond with patience and loving kindness to their children. I tell them to hang in there and never give up. Yet I must admit to parents that their best efforts may well prove fruitless; the sad fact is that many, if not most, severely alienated children never reconnect with their alienated parents, and respond in a vituperative fashion to any attempts their parents take to restore the relationship.
There is no shortage of advice in the clinical literature to alienated parents, much like the largely lame responses I manage to muster in regard to never giving up. These well-meaning efforts fall short in regard to what alienated parents are seeking, which is a full restoration of the parent-child relationship. Instead they are told, “Practice smiling,” “Meditate,” “Spend time with friends and family,” “Make sure you get enough sleep,” “Help others and be of service,” “Practice gratitude,” “Plan a trip,” “Go outside and spend time in nature,” and “Get plenty of exercise.” Such self-care and stress-reduction efforts, while important, fall far short of what alienated parents most want and need.
The only effective means to combat and eliminate parental alienation is to address it by means of a multi-faceted approach that involves fundamental changes to the present system of divorce, and alienated parents and their allies would be well-advised to channel their energies in this direction. This article is a call to action, involving four essential steps to address the problem of parental alienation. All other efforts will produce only superficial or short-term results.
Step 1: Professional recognition of parental alienation as a serious form of child abuse, and corresponding intervention of child protection authorities
Parental alienation is a form of individual child abuse, the result of actions by an individual caregiver that represent a significant form of harm to children. Parental alienation as a serious form of emotional child abuse, which is linked to child neglect and to physical and sexual abuse, clearly makes it, above all else, a child protection concern. First and foremost, we need to recognize parental alienation as a form of individual child abuse that requires a child protection response, no different than physical and sexual abuse. This may involve child removal from the abusive parent or, in most cases, family support services aimed at educating the parent about the effects and unacceptability of alienation and effecting a reunification process between the child and the targeted parent.
Step 2: Fundamental reform of the family law system, and establishing shared parenting as the foundation of family law
Parental alienation is also a form of collective child abuse; that is, alienation flourishes within legal structures that remove a parent from a child’s life by means of primary residence orders in disputed cases. Adversarial “winner-take-all” systems force parents to denigrate each other to prove that they are the superior parent and more worthy of being granted primary caregiver status, in effect engaging in alienating behaviors and the system thereby encourages and produces alienating behavior.
Shared parenting as the foundation of family law is a bulwark against parental alienation. Specifically, a legal presumption of shared parenting, rebuttable in cases of substantiated child abuse and domestic violence, is needed to prevent parental alienation from occurring in the first place.
Step 3: Provision of effective treatment programs and services by trained service providers, including reunification services and prevention programs
Clearly, changes to the child protection and family law systems are in themselves insufficient. The provision of effective treatment services by trained service providers, including reunification services and preventions programs, is vital to restoring the relationship between children and targeted parents. Reunification efforts should be undertaken with service providers with specialized expertise in parental alienation reunification. Further, the trauma of alienation is severe, and therapeutic services to individual victims of alienation are urgently needed.
The Australian “Family Relationship Center” model may offer a useful approach toward the provision of treatment and prevention programs in the arena of parental alienation. These government-supported centers are accessible to parents across the country, provide core services free of charge and others on a sliding fee scale. Families can access information and advice on building and strengthening relationships, early intervention and prevention services, child-friendly services for families in conflict, family mediation and conflict resolution services, development of co-parenting plans, re-partnering and stepfamily arrangements, and information and referral to more specialized services. The centers encourage separating parents to maintain a strong focus on the needs of their children for both parents in their lives. They offer individual, family and group sessions to assist separating families to create workable parenting arrangements for their children, as well as information sessions and workshops on a range of practical topics to assist families.
Step 4: Effective legal enforcement of shared parenting orders, and legal consequences for parents who withhold children from the other parent
Again, changes to the child protection and family law systems, as well as the availability of effective treatment programs, are in themselves insufficient. Legal sanction of shared parenting must include meaningful consequences for failure to comply with shared parenting orders. Law enforcement is needed to ensure compliance, as well as consequences for engaging in parental alienating behaviors.
Enforcement is perhaps the most contentious step, as markedly different approaches have been suggested by professionals, ranging from incarceration to custody reversal to family therapy to leaving the situation alone. Some argue that continued exposure to the alienating parent will be counterproductive to reunification methods; others suggest that using alienation from a parent to punish or deter alienation seems counter-intuitive. However, the most recent research indicates that therapeutic interventions are most effective when there are strong legal sanctions for non-compliance with shared parenting orders, and there is an emerging consensus among alienation specialists that awarding primary parental responsibility to the targeted parent when parental alienation is severe is an important step in ameliorating parental alienation.
In addition to being a form of emotional child abuse, parental alienation is a form of domestic violence directed at the targeted parent. The criminal justice system does not have a great track record on behalf of abused parents generally but to date, it has had virtually no role to play in dealing with parental alienation as a form of domestic violence and it should.
In sum, the challenges of finding constructive and effective solutions to the problem of parental alienation are rooted in the present-day disavowal of parental alienation as a form of emotional child abuse and domestic violence among both mental healthpractitioners and legal bodies.
Thus, the key to combatting and eliminating parental alienation is the implementation of a multi-faceted approach that involves fundamental changes to the present system of divorce, and alienated parents and their allies would be well-advised to channel their energies in this direction. The four-step approach suggested here—professional recognition of parental alienation as a serious form of child abuse, and corresponding intervention of child protection authorities; fundamental reform of the family law system, and establishing shared parenting as the foundation of family law; provision of effective treatment programs and services by trained service providers, including reunification services and prevention programs; and effective legal enforcement of shared parenting orders, and legal consequences for parents who withhold children from the other parent—provides a framework in that regard and represents a call to action for alienated parents and their allies.
The Narcissistic Personality Disordered Parent
Young children of a mother or father who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder are genuine victims of their parent and the disorder—as much as any child who lives through life with an addicted parent, or one guilty of physical or sexual abuse. The narcissistic parent abuses in an intensely subtle and devious fashion: they are guilty of severe emotional and mental abuse, and no one outside of the family would ever suspect anything wrong. These child victims quite often go unnoticed, untreated, and unassisted by other adults outside of the immediate family. This is due to the nature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
The overriding behavioral sign of a NPD parent is their almost total lack of concern for their child. On the surface, and in public, the NPD parent is often unnoticeable as an abusive person. Inside the family, there is no doubt for the child that there is something…
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No, it’s not a romantic sequel, but actress Drew Barrymore did reunite with her ex-husband, Will Kopelman, for the holiday weekend.
The exes spent time with their daughters, Olive, 5, and Frankie, 3, for a Christmas holiday to remember in Idaho.
“Yay successful Xmas morning,” Barrymore captioned an Instagram pic of herself and Kopelman enjoying a corn dog and drinks at a brewpub.
Barrymore, 42, continued to chronicle the family’s adventures skating and skiing over the weekend on social media.
Barrymore closed out her family’s memorable Christmas weekend with an Instagram pic of herself and her daughters. The caption read, “Merry Christmas 2017… 2018 you better watch yourself!”
This was the latest shared co-parenting adventure for Barrymore and Kopelman, who ended their four-year marriage in 2016. The actress periodically posts photos of herself with Kopelman on Instagram, including one in honor of Father’s Day earlier this year.
“Sadly our family is separating legally, although we do not feel this takes away from us being a family,” the actress and the art consultant said when they announced their split in a joint statement in April of 2016.
“Divorce might make one feel like a failure, but eventually you start to find grace in the idea that life goes on. Our children are our universe, and we look forward to living the rest of our lives with them as the first priority.”
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