Parental Alienation- The silent form of child abuse destroying our children
Parental Alienation- The silent form of child abuse that is destroying our families and children.
I say a form of child abuse because that is what it is. It affects our children greatly. Leaving a trail of emotional issues, scars, and can take years to treat and heal from.
It steals and kills a child’s memories and affection of one parent. And far too often, it even leads to men and women going as far as committing suicide because of it.
Many mental health professionals and even some legal professionals are reluctant to acknowledge this form of child abuse. However, with more and better information, advocacy by mental health professionals, child advocates, and parents calling on more legislation for the diagnosis of “parental alienation” to be included in the DSM-5, also referred to as the Bible for mental health professionals.
We may be at a turning point.
In this post, we’re going to provide a number of facts and evidence that it occurs far too often and the damage it does to our children can have lifelong effects. Many think I’m a “father’s rights activist” when in all reality, I’m a children’s rights activist.
“Parental Alienation is a child PROTECTION issue, not a child custody issue.”
-Dr. Craig Childress Psy. D.
It’s in the Pattern- Limiting Contact
The pattern, like many forms of abuse, start gradually, and over time escalate and escalate until the point it’s so obvious something isn’t right someone has to step in and take action to stop it.
The first of many patterns of parental alienation occurs when a couple has a child together then separates.
Things tend to go OK in the beginning as the couple just has a brand new baby and both parties typically want to try and work things out.
After a while, one of the parents, typically the custodial parent, will start to get and have rejection and anger issues towards the other parent, and will limit contact with the other parent as “an act of punishment”.
The custodial parent refuses to allow the child to see the other parent. ( Yes, even with a court order) Often, this is why families often have to continually go to court time and time again, also known as excessive litigation.
In hopes of providing a court order, the courts expect the parents to abide by it or face penalties.
However, this is not always the case.
Then, once the custodial parent has decided or determined the relationship with the other party is over, they know the courts are so lenient on the custodial parent (more mothers than not) they will only further their agenda of seeking revenge and taking out their own personal anger issues with the other parent.
What they fail to realize is how devastating this is on the child.
Emotionally, psychologically, and functionally.
I know of one case where the mother missed more than 100 court-ordered visits, phone calls, and even instilled into the child that the stepdad was the child’s “real dad”, even after the child had called and verbalized the biological dad as “dad.”
It’s in the Pattern- Moving Away
The second part of the pattern generally consists of the primary custodian moving great ways away from the other parent to once again.
Limiting contact and interfere with the parent-child relationship. Not too many parents are in a position to just up and move 4 to 5+ hours away to be with or closer to their child.
The courts often do make the parent who moved away to be responsible for transportation to and from drop-offs or any visitation.
In addition, this creates a great distance between the parent-child relationship and only further alienates a parent to participate in regular activities like attending school events, extracurricular activities, and seeing the child on a regular basis.
Under normal circumstances, most dads already only see their child every other weekend. When you add that time up, over the course of 18 years, it equates to less than 3 years of total parenting time.
Then you throw on top of intentionally missing visitation ( or parenting time), it’s rather quite east for the custodial parent to manipulate the child and attempt to wear down the other parent by not allowing them to see their child(ren).
Then they’ll try to use missed phone calls to discourage and wear down the parent emotionally as well until they just want to give up, walk away or sign away their rights or at it’s worst, commit suicide.
It’s one thing to lose a child to a tragedy in some sort of accident. It’s another to see your child slowly, methodically, and intentionally taken away from you from the other parent. with practically nothing, they can do about it.
Withholding Information & Child Support
Another sign parental alienation is occurring, is that one parent withholds or limits access to important information about the child such as school records, Dr. visits, and extracurricular activities.
Continuing to seek child support payments and practically demanding that part of the court order to be enforced, but heaven forbid, missing days, weeks, or even years of time, something a parent can’t get back with their child is far more important.
Attempting to yet again, get the upper hand in a custody dispute. From personal experience, child support far outweighs actually abiding by the court ordered visitation.
For example, if say a dad would miss child support payments, in most states they can be jailed. But if mom, misses multiple visitation dates or doesn’t follow the court order, they hardly get a slap on the wrist.
What type of example are they setting for their kids? That it’s “ok” to not respect authority or the law.
An example, that they are not responsible for their actions. An example, I don’t think any child needs to learn.
then…allegations of abuse
Finally, after a parent has attempted every other weapon at their disposal, moving away from the other parent, missing court-ordered visits, phone calls, etc.
Not cultivating a healthy or positive relationship with the other parent. They go for all-out annihilation of the other parent by making or reporting false allegations of abuse or domestic violence.
This is the most heinous act, in my opinion, any parent can do to another. Don’t get me wrong, I know first hand what it is like to actually be a victim of child abuse, so in no way shape or form do I condone it.
Quite the opposite actually. So, when people make false allegations, as I mentioned in High Conflict Custody: False Allegations and Parental Alienation it takes away precious resources from child protection agencies, police, Dr.’s, and can have devastating effects on someone who is innocent. ( mentally, emotionally, socially and financially.)
Not to mention the impact it has on the child.
What the Experts are Saying Now
Parental alienation has come a long way. It is now finally starting to get some of the publicity and attention it so desperately needs.
Just recently as in May 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering adding Parental Alienation to be published and coded in their next ICD version (ICD-11) in 2021 or 2022.
You can buy and read the petition here for just a few dollars.
Petition to the American Psychological Association
Seeking Professional Competence in the Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment of
Attachment-Related Pathology Surrounding Divorce
Prelude: The lives of children and families are being irrevocably destroyed by the failed
the response of the mental health system to attachment-related family pathology surrounding
Parental Alienation is the silent form of child abuse destroying our children
Dr. Childress Psy.D. has also authored several books on parental alienation and divorce.
He also provides his own practice with additional articles, resources, and training materials.
Parental Alienation- The silent form of child abuse destroying our children.
If you have been a victim of parental alienation and need or wish to speak with a therapist, psychiatrist, or support group near you find one here