The Importance of Co-Parenting After a Divorce

“Of the approximately one third of divorces, that do not evolve into effective co-parenting, a subset deteriorates into parental alienation. In these instances, one of the parents persistently alienates his or her children from the other parent. Alienated children react to their parents in absolute terms of “black and white.” They regard the alienating parent as all things good and virtuous. The parent from whom they are alienated, however, is considered despicable beyond any hope of changing his or her ways. Alienated children are well aware of the animosity with which the alienating parent reacts to the alienated parent. In turn, the children blindly align themselves with the alienating parent. While doing so, they also uncritically adopt the agenda of the alienating parent.” (Campbell, 2005)

Advertisements

Difficulties with Visitation

How many non-custodial parents have arrived at the home of their children, to pick them up for visitation, only to find they were not there?

It’s happened to us many times over the years. Of course, there was always a good explanation:

Image

This was the note our targeted parent found taped to the door when he arrived to pick his children up for visitation. The alienating parent “tryed” to reach the targeted parent through his mother?

This was just one of the many notes our targeted parent found when he arrived for visitation with his children.

And who were the pawns in this game? The children.

Holidays for the Targeted Parent

Holidays were always drama-filled occasions, normally spent trying to see our targeted parent’s children….. without much success.

His original divorce document indicated that he could visit and take with him the children on alternating holidays. When we moved in to our new place in 1983, his children were 6 and 9. We did not see them at all that holiday — on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. Even though Christmas Eve was on a Saturday and Christmas Day was on a Sunday that year — and our targeted parent’s regularly scheduled weekend visitation with his children. They spent both days with Mom and we celebrated the holiday with them the next weekend.

So when 1984 rolled around,  our targeted parent naturally assumed it was his turn and he would have his children with him on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, just like his ex had the year before. Guess what her response was when he mentioned that to her? To have the children (ages 7 and 10) write a letter to their father, telling him they’d like to spend Christmas Eve with their mother and Christmas Day with him.

Image

You’ll even notice how she made sure to tell our targeted parent that she wanted to spend time with their daughters, even though making arrangements for him to spend time with the children was of no concern to her the prior year, since it was “her turn.”

Well, 1985 came and it’s was Mom’s turn to spend Christmas with the children. Interestingly enough, that year both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were considered “the holiday” …. of course. And, again, we celebrated with the children the weekend after the actual holiday, seeing them neither Christmas Eve nor Christmas Day.

There was a more detailed entry filed with the Court in February 1986:

Image

Seems clear enough, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. According to the document just signed in February, 1986,  our targeted parent was supposed to have his daughters on Christmas Eve, since it was an even-numbered year, from 6:00 p.m. until 12:00 noon on Christmas Day. We had heard nothing to the contrary, so Larry called on Christmas Eve, around 5:30 p.m., to let his daughters know that he was on his way. His youngest answered the phone, stepped away for several minutes, then came back and said her sister had strep throat, so they could not come over. We did not see the children on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year.

Christmas, 1987: an odd numbered year, meaning his children should have been with him on Christmas Day until 10:00 a.m. on the day after. But, as usual, that wasn’t going to happen:

Image

In our particular case, we have a parent who has 7 and 10 year old children write their father a letter explaining why court ordered visitation should not take place …. instead of perhaps having a talk with the children and explaining to them — very gently and very lovingly — that, now that Mom and Dad are no longer together, the holidays are going to be different, but can still be special. Even after our targeted parent’s  children were adults, we spent very little time with them on holidays. The reason they gave us was that they needed to spend the day with their mother, who was all alone, instead of with him — since he was surrounded by family and friends.

That’s our story of PAS and the holidays.

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

“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. 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. 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.”
[Source: The Florida Bar Journal, Vol. 73, No. 3, March 1999, pp. 44-48]

Who are the true victims of PAS? The children …..

“…. Or, as Toronto therapist Victoria Lorient-Faibish so aptly calls them, Amputative Parents. What are they? They are parents that seek to damage, destroy, deconstruct or even completely end their child’s relationship with their (former) spouse. In a nutshell, PAS is a syndrome caused by a specific type of abuse whereby one parent seeks revenge upon another, and will stop at nothing, to get that revenge. They will manipulate and abuse their children and exploit and lie to their children, family members, police, lawyers and the court system to effect that revenge.

The abusive parent is usually referred to as the alienating parent and the maligned parent is called the target parent. The alienating parent effectively (sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly),  teaches the child to split. The target parent represents evil and the alienating parent represents perfection.

Children end up feeling so loyal to the alienating parent (often feeling that they have to protect him or her), that they subsume their own emotional needs in many cases. Even if the alienating parent emotionally or physically abuses them, the children will defend their actions. Because they perceive the target parent as having abandoned them, they want to avoid being abandoned again (by the alienating parent) at all costs. They’ll do anything to show their loyalty. They might curse, hit, not speak to, and exhibit other angry behaviors to the target parent.

The other victims, besides the children, are the target parents (and often grandparents). When mature target parents divorce, they want to avoid confrontation and prevent escalation in order to prevent further damage to the kids. But if the target parent doesn’t confront and expose the other parent, the abuse usually continues. It is a very painful spot for any parent to be in.

This is simply one of the most devastating kinds of abuse children can go through-they don’t have a chance to form healthy bonds with either parent and now that we have studied a generation in which this has happened, we can determine the effects are long-lasting.  Although divorce is never a walk in the park for kids, emotionally mature and compassionate parents put the children before themselves and do their utmost to present a united front when child-rearing during divorce. PAS destroys any chance of normalcy.

The parent who has custody is obligated by law to avoid any disruptions in the children’s relationship with the other parent. However, a shocking number of custodial parents break the law by doing everything in their power to destroy their children’s relationship with their other parent by “forgetting” visitations, disrupting visitations in numerous ways, or simply moving, sometimes far away, and leaving no forwarding address.”

[Source:  blogs.pyschcentral.com]

Does Your Ex-Wife Have A Golden Uterus Complex?

“Are you frustrated with your wife or ex-wife’s attitude of “I AM THE MOTHER; YOU ARE IRRELEVANT” when it comes to raising your shared children? Does she have an over-inflated sense of self because she’s a mother? Does she believe the mere act of giving birth entitles her to special privileges and gives her absolute, unilateral power over you and the children? If so, your wife/ex-wife/mother of your children may be a golden uterus (GU) and suffer from golden uterus complex (GUC).

Golden uterus may seem like a snide term.  It is.  In some ways, the term is a backlash against a certain kind of woman/mother who believes she is the end-all-be-all just because she procreated, or rather, just because she procreated with you before anyone else had children with you.

You see, GUs only revere their own uteruses and motherhood. They’re dismissive of other mothers and their children; especially if they’re second or third wives. They take pride in the fact that they were the first wives; while ignoring the reality that they were such bad wives that their husbands divorced them.

Golden uteruses, despite the sense of superiority and entitlement they derive from the title “mother,” are typically lousy parents if not downright abusive parents. GUs are often the high-conflict, abusive personality-disordered parental alienators. They are the women who expect others, including their own children, to sacrifice everything at the altars they erect to themselves. Golden uteruses lay golden eggs (children) and milk their motherhood, the children and you for all you’re worth.

GU and child are a two-fer. If you want to have your child in your life after you separate or divorce, the GU believes she’s a part of some twisted package deal. A golden uterus doesn’t understand (or refuses to acknowledge) that you can love and have an independent relationship with the children without her in the middle of it. GUs will try to impose themselves into your individual relationships with the children and any new romantic relationships. However, if GU dates and remarries, it’s none of your damn business.

Disobedience is abuse to the golden uterus. If the children, father/husband/ex-husband doesn’t heed her demands, the GU perceives it as abuse. If you don’t parent the same way the GU parents (or mis-parents); you’re a bad parent. If you challenge the GU’s decisions, she’ll punish you by denying you access to the kids or taking you to court. “A GU believes that because she gave birth, she has exclusive rights to all decision-making related to said child, no matter what anyone else (including the courts or the father) say” (anonymous source).

All other child caregivers are irrelevant. Fathers are walking ATMs. A father’s role is to financially and emotionally support the mother (i.e., be her emotional punching bag/doormat and listen to her complain about how hard it is to be a mother). That’s it. Fathers get no real input into how the children are raised. Step-mothers are less than non-entities. They are to act as servants to the children during visitation and are less than handmaidens to the golden uterus. Step-mothers/girlfriends are intruders and are treated as such. Extended paternal family members are to act as a subservient support system to the GU, that is, if she allows them to have any access to the kids. Extended paternal family members are also expected to side with the GU over their own flesh and blood and to dispense cash for the GU’s children’s “needs.”

Golden uterus mothers are feeeeeeelers. The golden uterus believes that her emotions are reason enough for any action, no matter how despicable. In fact, the GU’s feelings often trump what’s really in the child’s best interests. For example, “I’m angry with your father” means the children are denied access to their father. Cutting the other parent out of a child’s life is rarely in the child’s best interests. However, the GU is feeeeeeling angry, wronged, ignored, disrespected, challenged, etc., so that becomes her justification to attack and/or punish others—even if her actions violate a court order.

What can you do if the mother of your children has a golden uterus complex?
There’s nothing you can do to change her. Nothing. She’s highly unlikely to see the light and morph into a reasonable human being and good mother. Your goal, as with all high-conflict abusive types, should be containment. You accomplish containment through establishing iron-clad boundaries. Learn to say no and then practice deafening your ears to the caterwauling.

Don’t put your current wife/girlfriend in the middle and don’t tolerate your ex or your children disrespecting her. Demand respect for yourself and your loved ones. If your ex and the kids violate these boundaries, find appropriate consequences for their violations.

Finally, don’t drink the golden uterus’ kool-aid. The fact that you once had a relationship with her/share a child does not bind you together for life. Just because she wants this to be the truth doesn’t make it so. Just because your ex has chosen to define herself by a failed relationship and 36 hours in a delivery room doesn’t mean you have to do the same. GUs are legends in their own minds and their own worst enemies. Minimize contact and try to foster healthy boundaries, values and senses of self in your children during the time you have them and hope it sticks.”
[Source: http://www.shrink4men.com ]

Parental Alienation Awareness Organization

Did You Know That…
Parental Alienation is a form of Child Abuse?
Parental alienation (or Hostile Aggressive Parenting) is a group of behaviors that are damaging to children’s mental and emotional well-being, and can interfere with a relationship of a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce.

These behaviors whether verbal or non-verbal, cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a loving parent is the cause of all their problems, and/or the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected and/or avoided.

Parental alienation and hostile aggressive parenting deprive children of their right to be loved by and showing love for both of their parents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent or other third person (like another family member, or even a well meaning mental health care worker) can become abusive to the child – as the alienating behaviors are disturbing, confusing and often frightening, to the child, and can rob the child of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychiatric reactions.

Most people do not know about Parental Alienation and Hostile Aggressive Parenting until they experience it. Parental Alienation Awareness is put forth to help raise awareness about the growth in the problem of targeting children and their relationship in healthy and loving parent/child bond.

[Source:  Parental Alienation Awareness Organization]

For more information on this organization, please visit:  http://www.paawareness.org/

Mothers who abuse their children ….

“Non-custodial parents often face a continuing dilemma, knowing how to respond to certain mind-programming propaganda that the children receive from the custodial parent. Every reference to the non-custodial parent is couched in negative words: “lazy, irresponsible, un-loving, and cheapskate,” to name a few. The children’s emotions and behavior patterns that result from this negative programming have been officially dubbed by the psychological community as the Parental Alienation Syndrome , and when the parent doing the alienation has full-time access to the children, the consequences can be devastating to the relationship between the child and the other parent. It is also devastating to the child as the child comes to realize that half of who they are, is a product of that “lowlife” other parent.

Parental alienation deprives the children of their right to know that they have two parents who love them. Regrettably, the parent responsible for the alienation seldom realizes or cares that such deprivation is a form of psychological child abuse. Life becomes difficult enough for the targeted parent, but the children are the real victims of the immature behavior from a parent with vengeance in their head and heart.”  [Source:  The Father’s Guide: Coping with Parental Alienation.”

You hear so much about physical abuse at the hands of a parent, but don’t often hear about the psychological child abuse that is almost as common.  Whether it be physical or psychological, the children are the ones who suffer.

The Importance of a Father

“A father’s love is just as important to a child’s development as a mother’s, and sometimes more so, suggests a new review of about 100 studies published between 1949 and 2001.

Researchers found that, overall, the love — or rejection — of mothers and fathers equally affects kids’ behavior, self-esteem, emotional stability, and mental health.  ‘But in some cases, the withdrawal of a father’s love seems to play a bigger role in kids’ problems with personality and psychological adjustment, delinquency, and substance abuse,’ says study coauthor Ronald P. Rohner, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.  And for others, the presence of a father’s love may do more to boost children’s sense of well-being and improve their emotional and physical health.”
[Source: http://www.parents.com ]

A Little Girl Needs Daddy

A little girl needs Daddy
For many, many things:
Like holding her high off the ground
Where the sunlight sings!
Like being the deep music
That tells her all is right
When she awakens frantic with
The terrors of the night.

Like being the great mountain
That rises in her heart
And shows her how she might get home
When all else falls apart.

Like giving her the love
That is her sea and air,
So diving deep or soaring high
She’ll always find him there.
Author Unknown

We wanted to share this poem for all the little girls who never had the opportunity to know their father, or who were irreparably harmed by their father. It’s sad that tragedies such as this go on in life.

Happy Father’s Day

In honor of all those hardworking, loving fathers out there, I’d like to say Happy Father’s Day!

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll realize how important fathers are to our story.

There is the father who made the decision to molest is own teenage daughter, which set in motion a situation, the consequences of which are still being felt to this day.

There is the father who, after the divorce from the mother of his children, was alienated from those children by his former wife.

There are the grandfathers who went through life feeling that if they did anything to upset or anger the mother of their grandchildren, they would not be permitted to see those grandchildren.

You’ll recall our May 20th post, about the importance of fathers in the healthy development of children:

https://ltepas.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/the-importance-of-fathers-in-the-healthy-development-of-children/

With everything that has gone on, Father’s Day is obviously a bittersweet holiday for us. I mourn the loss of my father, who was the best father a girl could have ever wanted, or needed. I remember all the wonderful times with him and how very special he was. I also count my blessings, in marrying an incredible man, who I was so very lucky to meet and fall in love with. He became the father my sons never had and, to this day, sets an example for our son, showing him the way a father and grandfather should be.

So, we will count our blessings for the people who we do have in our lives, and enjoy the holiday by recognizing the man I love as The World’s Best Father and Grandfather!

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.” — Clarence Budington Kelland

An oldie but a goodie ….

We’ve surpassed 2,200 views on this blog (thank you loyal followers!), which prompted me to take a look at the stats section. It was interesting to see that, over the past 7 days, our second most popular post was the Faking Irish one which we published back in March!

Stats

It may be an oldie, but it’s definitely a goodie! Check it out for yourselves:

https://ltepas.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/faking-irish/

Can you find a way to love your children more than you may hate your ex?

Obviously the majority of our issues with our alienating parent stem from the fact that she and our targeted parent divorced.  That divorce took place 36 years ago.  36 years!  But the ramifications are still being felt to this day.  Our targeted parent has no relationship with his children and hasn’t for many years.  And that’s a shame, especially for the children.

“Divorce stinks for adults too. People going through a divorce have a lot of good reasons to be angry. If you’re getting divorced, you should be angry at your ex.
By all means, be angry. Be furious. I won’t deny you your rage. If you don’t have children, indulge yourself.
But if you’re a divorcing or divorced parent, you can’t or shouldn’t indulge. Instead, if you’re a divorcing or divorced parent I want you to try to do some things that are emotionally unnatural. Look beyond your rage. Try to understand how you’re really feeling. Try especially to control and contain your anger around your children and its consequences for them.
Here are some questions for divorcing partners who are also parents.
Even if you have a right to be angry, do your children need to be exposed to your anger?
Can you find a way to love your children more than you may hate your ex?
But this isn’t about you. Or about your ex, no matter what a miserable, Axis II, selfish whatever she or he may be.
It’s about your kids and their parents.
It’s about finding a way to be a parent, even as your marriage is unraveling.
It’s about doing your job as parents and as co-parents, so your kids can be kids, not forever children of divorce.”
[Source:  psychologytoday.com]

Very wise words, aren’t they?