What are “The Best Interests of the Child” when a divorce occurs?

So many parents say:  “I’m putting my children first” after a divorce, but in actuality, how many honestly do that?

How many parents put their own feelings of anger, jealousy and loneliness aside and nurture their children’s relationship with their former spouse?  The wants and needs of the grown adult parent should not be put before the wants and needs of children who are simply trying to grow up in today’s world as best they can.  Making it more difficult for them by keeping them from a loving, caring parent is one of the worst things a parent can do …… yet it happens so often.

I watched first hand as an incredible father was denied a relationship with his children for many, many years.  The mother always pretended to put her children first.  But what was she protecting them from?  A father who loved, supported and cared about them?  There was no need for “protection” from this hard-working, dedicated father.  Obviously, the mother was more concerned about her feelings, which is the only reason the children were kept from their father.  She was angry.  She was jealous.  She was lonely.  For those reasons — and those reasons alone — the children were not permitted to see their father for extended periods of time.

It’s time for our courts to overhaul the theory of “best interests” of the children when there is no reason for the children to be kept from one parent due to the anger and insecurities displayed by the other parent.

It’s time to honestly put the children first!

Dealing with a Pathological Liar

Dealing with a pathological liar, and how it affects their children:

Pathological lying is not an official medical diagnosis, yet the term is often used to describe people who exhibit excessive and compulsive lying on a regular basis. Parents who are referred to as pathological liars may suffer from additional mental health issues such as personality disorders, low self-esteem or a desperate need for approval. Pathological liars often speak without thinking, and convince themselves that their lies may in fact have happened. Exhibiting a compulsive behavior such as lying to or in front of children has negative ramifications.

Awareness:  Children of preschool age may already be aware that their parent has trouble telling the truth. The small child may decide that they cannot trust their parent and be confused about mixed stories and messages. Child care providers and preschool may reinforce the value of honesty, yet at home, the child observes their parent engaging in undesirable lying behavior.

Parenting Skills:  Pathological lying affects the ability to be a consistent parent. A parent who lies may change his or her story or sequence of events, therefore reducing the effectiveness of household rules and a child’s sense of stability. Research reveals that inconsistent parenting produces negative behavioral issues for children, as they do not learn proper limits or consequences. In addition to creating household instability, a parent that compulsively lies is modeling a very negative behavior.

Learned Behavior:  Parental pathological lying can become a learned behavior for children. Children and teenagers model the behavior they see their parents exhibit and also learn they can get away with it. By looking up to a pathological liar as a role model, the child or teenager gives him or herself permission to act this way themselves. Pathological lying can become a part of a dysfunctional family dynamic passed down to younger generations. When a parent is identified as having an issue with compulsive lying, it is recommended that children be counseled about the negativity of this behavior, before they emulate it.

Covering Up Issues:  Some compulsive liars may lie in order to cover up past issues or hide current problems from their family. For example, a gambler or alcoholic may consistently lie about their whereabouts or how they spend money. Other pathological liars may be hiding serious issues such as past or current abuse. Regardless of the reason, lying to mask a problem, affects the ability to treat the underlying issue. A parent who is lying to cover up a problem such as drinking, is avoiding treatment, thus causing additional pain for their family and children.

[Source:  howtoadult.com — Effects on Children Whose Parent Is A Pathological Liar by  Cassandra Gailis]

How Narcissists Play the Victim and Twist the Story — Parental Alienation

While delusion is more of an internal process, lying and denial is often in the context of other people. Regular people deal with their problems by themselves, internally. Or they discuss it in a very private setting: in therapy or among very close, healthy people. Narcissists don’t have people like that in their life and […]

via How Narcissists Play the Victim and Twist the Story — Parental Alienation

SEVERE: Obsessed alienators — Parental Alienation

Originally posted on Parental Alienation: Obsessed alienators operate from a delusional system where every cell of their body is committed to destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child. In the case of the Obsessed alienator, no treatment exists other than removing the child from their influence. Here are some scenarios that could be by…

via SEVERE: Obsessed alienators — Parental Alienation

How to Co-Parent with a Controlling Ex

For those parents struggling with exes who use the kids as pawns.

By:  Mel Hearse [https://www.kidspot.com.au]

Shared parenting can be hard work. There’s getting through the breakup while keeping your kids best interests at the forefront, waving them off to their other parent’s home to spend time without you.  There’s the making tough parenting decisions while you’re no longer together.

But what happens when one half of the equation is not only failing to meet you in the middle, but actively making it as difficult as possible?

Worst case scenario

The recent Kidspot story of the mother co-parenting with a narcissist was a thing of nightmare worst case scenarios. And there’s no shortage of parents out there struggling through sharing their precious cargo with a person that willingly uses their children as a pawn to control or punish them. How can you realistically work with this from your end to best protect your children? It’s a very complex dynamic

“Broadly, this behaviour is abusive, and is not an uncommon part of what is experienced by many women who have left abusive partners,” says CEO of Relationships Australia’s Elisabeth Shaw.

She says a controlling partner will continue to use any means to enact the control, from the point of separation. “This could include the date, arrangements and separating of assets in moving out, it can be during a protracted process of family mediation or holding up the ability to get to mediation, through to the frustration of any arrangements agreed to as part of family orders,” she says.

Think of the children

Children are very alert to being used as pawns, and to their parents being unhappy or angry, says Elisabeth. However much the controlling parent might try and co-opt them into their mindset, over the course of time many children will see the behaviour for what it is and resent it.

She says parents who are constantly arguing and distressed, especially at handover or in relation to money, have also have a hugely damaging effect in their children.

The children’s own requirements are over looked and they can feel the cause of their parent’s unhappiness, however much they are reassured otherwise. This means that their own mental health and wellbeing is compromised.

Some realistic advice

Given none of us a superhuman, here’s some realistic advice from Elisabeth to help your kids – and yourself, navigate the experience. It can feel like you have very few options. If you show your children all the examples and give them a counter argument, you might feel like you are trying to manage injustice responsibly, but children can in fact experience that as being in the middle of opposing points of view rather than (as you might hope) a perspective on ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, says Elisabeth.

Sometimes to manage your children’s well being, even if you know what your partner is up to, if it doesn’t hugely hold up your life and the children seem oblivious, there are times it will be best to let it pass, she advises. If you feel the children are affected, then talking to your ex, and asking for counselling or mediation is important.

Counselling is useful for children, counsellors can see them with you, as a family or even on their own. This is a safe space for them to talk to someone neutral, without fearing they’ll hurt your feelings. They’ll also see counselling as a useful tool later in life if they find themselves struggling.

“Involving a family therapist to get the children’s perspective and wishes is important, so that it is not one parent against and another; instead for have some objective assessment of their reality,” she says.


In terms of self-management, it is important to get clear about your own values and principles, and measure your behaviour against that.

Elisabeth suggest sitting down and working through a range questions: ‘How do I separate out the hurt I experienced in the relationship and separation from my children’s right to an ongoing, happy experience with the other parent?’ ‘What sort of parent do I want to be?’ ‘What can I stand for as a parent?’ ‘How can I really know what is in my children’s best interests (even though I tell myself that is what drives me?)’

“If you are dealing with this situation, seeing someone yourself to help you evaluate what to tolerate and manage, versus when to intervene – including going to court – can really assist. Controlling behaviour can really mess with your head, and is extremely wearing over time if it is relentless. Having a neutral person in your corner is an important survival technique,” she says.

When one parent feels jealous of or threatened by their children’s love for the other parent after divorce

Children need to feel it’s okay to love both parents.  When the parents are happy and together, there is rarely jealousy or one parent feeling threatened by the children’s love for the other parent.  But when a divorce occurs, that often changes.

Why would one parent feel threatened when their child loves the other parent?  Jealousy is a possible reason.  Jealousy arises when one parent feels insecure.  Abandonment is another possible reason for jealousy between divorced parents.

“When a divorcing parent feels jealous and insecure, he or she often attempts to control the other spouse’s relationship with their children.  However, the more a divorcing spouse tries to control how the other parent deals with their children, the more resentful the other parent will become.  The divorced parents’ relationship deteriorates and creates more insecurity, forming a negative cycle that just makes the jealousy worse.  The solution is for the jealous parent to stop trying to control the other parent and allow him or her to discipline the children without being second guessed.”  [Source:  Jealousy Between Divorcing Parents and Children by Harry Munsinger, J.D., Ph.D.]

It’s easy to say a parent needs to put the children’s well-being, and many parents manage to do that, before, during and after a divorce.  And to those parents:  I applaud you.  To the others, however, who let their insecurities, need for control and jealousy outweigh the needs of their children before, during and after a divorce, I would urge you to please, stop and think of the damage that is being done to your children.

Children need both parents.  They need to feel it’s okay to love both parents, and want to spend time with both parents.  Don’t just say: I’m putting my children first.  Actually do it!  Your children will thank you!


By Donna Ferber

When going through a divorce, keeping your children’s well-being in the forefront of your mind is critical. Whether the children ultimately have an experience that is traumatic or manageable is a direct result of how well their parents’ behave. Some parents even stay together “for the sake of their children” but their behavior is so appalling that the kids beg their parents to split up. Whether you stay together or not, your children learn from and emulate your behavior. You are role models for healthy relationships.

Your commitment to protect your children from divorce acrimony is tested when you find yourself in the throes of splitting property and assets. You are exhausted, stressed, worried, and patience is at a premium. The ends of your conviction begin to fray as hostility escalates. If you are embroiled in bitter exchanges over issues of child support, visitation, parent styles and custody, these “hot buttons” often explode into gut wrenching arguments and negotiations seem become impossible. At this point co-parenting becomes the lightening rod for all unsettled issues.

There are basically three major situations that impair cooperative co-parenting- First, when the co-parent is truly not fit*, second, when there is parental alienation*, and third when a co-parent is simply uncooperative (in most cases this manifests as unreliable or controlling).

All of these are crazy making and huge topics. For the sake of this article, let’s assume we are dealing with an uncooperative parent- that is someone who is basically a good parent but with whom you have a horrific interpersonal post spousal relationship.

Left over marital issues such as bitterness, resentment, betrayal, hurt and disappointment can linger long after the legal dust has settled. Parenting then becomes the venue for the continuing unresolved battle. For example, consider the parent who brings the child back 30 minutes late from visitation. That thirty minutes isn’t hurtful to the child, but drives the other parent crazy. The frustration and screaming that ensues is what damages the child. The parent who is repeatedly late is sending a message-you can’t control me and I don’t respect you. The parent who screams back says your technique is working!

Even if only one parent can distinguish between left over spousal power struggles and truly child centered issues, this awareness can foster significant changes in the co-parenting dynamic. While it is easy to focus on the deficits of the other parent, never lose sight of your own part in the interaction. Everyone knows the vulneralbe spots in their ex-spouse. Steer clear of them in your co-parenting interaction.

When negotiating with your co-parent keep in mind that good parenting exists on a continuum. There are the relaxed, easy going parents and on the other end of the spectrum is the more organized, structured type. There is a lot of room for variance on that continuum. Of course, a super relaxed style becomes neglectful and the super organized style can be abusive. Remember, no two people parent exactly the same way, but that doesn’t make them bad parents. Keep your perspective.

Sometimes it seems that even good parents can’t co-parent no matter how hard one or both of you may try. Perhaps these acrimonious relationships serve a purpose-that is, they reassure the couple that they did the right thing in splitting up. Sometimes it seems people need to hang on to the anger to justify their choice. Other times, spouses feel that if they let go of their anger, they are in some ways sending a message that they have accepted the others transgressions. Perhaps, they are locked in a power struggle because they felt powerless in the marriage. Lastly, some people are just incompatible and bring out the worse in each other. Regardless of the reason for the continued acrimony, you have a responsibility to your children to put their needs first and take the high road. Your children will thank you for it.

The following can help you remain steady and focused on child centered issues when dealing with your uncooperative co-parent.
  1. Recognize you can’t change another person. Stop trying to change your co-parent and he/she will (eventually) stop trying to control you.
  2. Keep your marital relationship issues separate. Divorce may be about “winning”, co parenting is not. The good co-parent relationship is about being able to decide together what is best for your children.
  3. Give up the need to get his/her approval, to prove you are right, to get an apology.
  4. Stick to the topic as hand. Keep it simple.
  5. Avoid words like “always” and “never”. They diminish your conflict resolution skills by globalizing the issue.
  6. Keep the conversations in the present. Do not bring up the past.
  7. Leave sarcasm at the door. Pissing someone off never got them to agree with you.
  8. Don’t get defensive or side tracked. If your co-parent is a dirty fighter- bringing up the past, calling you names, blaming, don’t get sucked into the fray.
  9. Focus on your kids needs not your own.
  10. Don’t play games. Be as accountable, responsible and reliable as you want your co-parent to be.
  11. NEVER fight in front of your children, or involve them in any way in the conflict. This includes bad mouthing, sarcasm and even eye rolling.
  12. Stay calm. Don’t raise your voice, even if your co-parent is screaming. Remember you do not have to emulate another person’s behavior. Raising your voice will escalate the acrimony.
  13. It really does take two to fight. If your co-parent tries to bait you, ignore it and go back to #4.
*If you feel your children are really at risk because your co-parent is reckless, involved in drinking, drugs, is emotionally or physically abusive to your kids, take immediate action and get legal help. Don’t try to handle it yourself. Remember your children have rights and one of those is to grow up protected and safe.

The importance of a step-parent in a child’s life

Over the past four months since my husband’s death, I have had several conversations with people who commented on his relationship with the sons I had from my first marriage.  My husband and I married when my children were 8 and 5.  The boys’ biological father had abandoned them when they were very young.  I think I decided to marry my husband after seeing what an incredible father-figure he was to my sons, even while we were dating.  One of the boys even told me to hurry up and marry my husband, so he could call him Dad.

And what a Dad he was.  He was the only father they knew as they grew up to become fine young men, with children of their own.  He was there for them every step of the way.  He was their best supporter, their mentor, their friend.  I couldn’t have asked for a better man to help me raise these children.

It is especially heart-warming, and definitely helps as the family goes through the grieving process, to hear people comment on the obvious love that was shared between my husband and our sons.  And yes, I call them our sons because they never considered themselves step-sons.  They were sons, pure and simple.

It’s wonderful to hear comments shared by family and friends, who have been part of our lives for so many years, about how apparent it was that our sons dearly loved their father, and how he reciprocated those feelings.  And now, as the boys go through the rest of their lives, they take with them the gifts he left them with:  the gift of being their father, the gift of a marvelous childhood, the gift of love, the gift of years of happy memories.

So, to those of you who are part of a blended family, I urge you to cherish the relationship between child and step-parent.  Years from now, you may be glad you did.

Some of the Most Poisonous People Come Disguised as Family and Friends



Our targeted parent spent the final years of his life with friends and family who loved and cherished him.  After years of turmoil, trying to maintain a relationship with one of his daughters, he finally said:  enough is enough!  Holidays became joyous occasions again.  There were no more arguments, lies and name calling.  It was a wise decision on his part, and one he never regretted.

It’s okay to let go of relationships with family members, if it means living your life to the fullest.

Are You an Adult Child raised by a Narcissistic Parent? Take This Brief Survey to Find Out. — Parental Alienation

Narcissism is a spectrum disorder with the most severe end of the spectrum considered a narcissistic personality disorder. A person can have several narcissistic traits and not fit the personality disorder. Parents with only a few traits listed can negatively affect their children in insidious ways which is explained in Dr. McBride’s books. (Check all […]

via Are You an Adult Child raised by a Narcissistic Parent? Take This Brief Survey to Find Out. — Parental Alienation