Post-traumatic Stress in the Rupture of Parent-child Relationships

e8488-parental2balienation2bis2ba2bcrime2bstop2bthe2bhate-2b2015In this second installment of our three-part series on parental alienation, we turn our attention to alienated (targeted) and alienating parents. Parental alienation is the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other (targeted) parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child’s relationship with that parent, and most often occurs within the context of a child custody conflict. This includes the “legal abuse” of parents who have been disenfranchised from their children’s lives subsequent to sole custody and primary residence judgments. Within an adversarial legal process, non-custodial parents are often subjected to shame and stigma, lack of access to their children, and devaluation of their role as parents. And those who speak about the pain and woundedness in their lives are subjected to a mean-spirited cultural response, where their talk of woundedness is mocked.

Most alienated parents are non-custodial fathers, and engaging these fathers is a significant challenge, as clinical and research literature has described the lack of “fit” between fathers and therapeutic agents as emanating from two sources: the characteristics of men and fathers themselves (their resistance to counseling andtherapy), and aspects of the therapeutic process (which have failed to successfully engage fathers). Patterns of traditional gender-role socialization directing men toward self-sufficiency and control, independent problem-solving and emotional restraint have largely worked against fathers being able to acknowledge personal difficulties and request help.

fear of self-disclosure and a feeling of disloyalty to one’s family in exposing family problems are not uncommon; a fear of losing control over one’s life and the need to present an image of control or a “facade of coping” in the form of exterior calm, strength, and rationality, despite considerable inner turmoil, characterize many fathers. Professional service providers do not always consider such psychological obstacles to therapy and thus do not address fathers’ unique needs. The research on divorced fathers is clear about their most pressing need: their continued meaningful involvement with their children, as active parents. The lack of recognition of this primary need is the main reason for therapists’ lack of success in engaging alienated fathers.Missing Years of My Daughter Life by Parental Alienation - 2015

Above all, the key to engaging alienated parents is to validate their parental identity, and combine advocacy efforts with counseling focused on enhancing their role as active and responsible parents. Human service professionals have been notably absent in the politicsof reform with respect to the issue of legal child custody, yet they are desperately needed as allies in policy reform efforts. An important role of human service professionals in supporting alienated parents is through such advocacy and activism, challenging the custodial/non-custodial and residential/non-residential parent dichotomy and advancing the cause of co-parenting.

An active program of outreach is essential as alienated parents report a lack of effective support services, and they remain a highly vulnerable population. Service providers need to be persistent and proactive, as it takes time to build and sustain engagement in the context of these parents’ feelings of isolation, helplessness, and their tendency to wait until there is a crisis before accessing support. Parents who were highly involved with and attached to their children and suddenly find themselves forcefully removed from their children’s lives experience profound woundedness. The experience of being removed as a loving parent from the life of one’s child via a sole custody order strikes at the heart of one’s being.

Suicide rates are reported to be of epidemic proportions among parents, fathers in particular, who are struggling to maintain a parenting relationship with their children (Kposowa, 2000; Kposowa, 2003); and legal abuse has been noted as a key factor in these cases. Being vigilant regarding symptoms of post-traumatic stress andsuicidal ideation among non-custodial and alienated fathers and mothers is an essential role for service providers. A strengths-based approach, recognizing alienated parents’ aspirations to their children’s well being and the experience, knowledge and skills that they can contribute to this well being, while maintaining the high road in addressing the alienation, is vital.

And finally, what about the alienating parent, who uses a combination of fear, lies, flattery and gratification of material desires to win over their child, and whose sense of entitlement and desire to control the child is greater than the desire to nurture and care for the child? As Amy Baker writes, parents who try to alienate their child from the other parent subtlely or overtly convey a three-part message to the child: I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself; the other parent is dangerous and unavailable; and pursuing a relationship with the other parent jeopardizes your relationship with me.

Alienating parents are themselves emotionally fragile, often enmeshed with the child, with a “sense of entitlement, needing control, knowing only how to take” (Richardson, 2006). Yet although it is easy to pathologize and blame such parents, it must be remembered that alienating behavior is encouraged in the context of a legal adversarial forum where the goal is to “win” the custody or residence of one’s child. And although some would recommend a solution of removing child custody from alienating parents and placing children in the care of non-alienating parents, it is often very difficult to adjudicate who actually is the alienating and who is the targeted parent. Family law judges are not trained in the finer points of child development and family dynamics, and can be easily swayed by legal arguments made on behalf of disputing parents, including alienating parents.Parental-alienation-As a victim - StandupforZoraya 2015

On the matter of parental alienation, I have come to see that the problem is systemic innature; that is, the problem lies primarily in the adversarial nature of legal determination of parenting after divorce. Parents are set up to fight in an effort to win “primary residence” or “custody” of their children, and the system tends to reward those skilled in adversarial combat. Parents often win their case by disparaging the other parent as a parent, in effect engaging in alienating behaviors, and the system thereby encourages and produces alienating behavior. A legal presumption of co-parenting, rebuttable in established cases of child abuse and family violence, may in fact be the most effective means of combating parental alienation and curtailing its damaging consequences, while at the same time protecting the safety and well-being of children at risk of abuse.

The final installment of our three-part series on parental alienation will examine programs, services and interventions that combat alienation, and seek to reunite estranged parents and their children while addressing the significant clinical challenges in working with alienating parents.

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Kposowa, A. (2000). “Marital Status and Suicide in the National Longitudinal Mortality Study.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 54, 254-261.

Kposowa, A. (2003). “Divorce and Suicide Risk.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 57, 993-995.

Richardson, P. (2006). A Kidnapped Mind. Toronto: Dundurn Press.

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Post-traumatic Stress in the Rupture of Parent-child Relationships.

Spending Time With Your Children

time-coverDo parents spend enough time with their kids?

That was the question The Post’s Brigid Schulte posed in her story about a groundbreaking new study, which found it’s how you spend your time, not how much, that has the biggest impact on kids.KCFC Seal

Put your kids’ interests first

Even if you are battling loneliness and depression, you need to do everything you can to prioritize the interests of your kids to make the season special.

“It’s very important that we don’t share depression and pain and anxiety about the holidays with our kids,” said Child-Centered Divorce Network founder Rosalind Sedacca. “They’re going through their own drama and the last thing we want to do is add any pain and confusion and hurt they have.”

Start by approaching your children with compassion and allow them to express their emotions.

“Let your kids vent about their feelings, their anxieties and apprehensions and frustrations and regrets and acknowledge what they’re feeling when they’re sharing that with you,” Sedacca said. “Don’t make them wrong. … What you want to do is really open that door to letting your kids know they can trust you and it’s OK for them to say whatever they say even if you don’t like hearing it.”

Once you’ve had that discussion, start focusing on ways to still make the holidays special in their new living arrangement.

What does it take to raise happy, healthy, productive kids today? The number one thing is your time and attention. In a previous video, we outlined a few of the things it takes to get close to your kids so they will thrive. In this video, we show you a bit of what we do for one-on-one time with our kids. We spend quality one-on-one time with each of our kids. That special attention each one receives is really appreciated by each of the children. It is so important for you to spend this quality one-on-one time wth your kids!
Ali only recently started riding a bike and within one week she decided to take the training wheels off. This was Ali’s first adventure off road on two wheels and she loved it. We had a blast in the woods but the little princess hurt herself a few times. Thanks for watching and if you enjoyed this video and want to see more like it then please leave a comment below.

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“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created them, male and female he created them.” “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, fill the whole earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

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Maximizing Time With Your Kids


Well it’s the holiday’s folks and you know what that means: lots of food, relatives you may only seen once or twice a year and that tornado of wrapping paper left in the wake of presents being unwrapped while parents desperately cling to their coffee cups. For some however, the holidays can be a stressful time if you’re not getting the time you need with your children. The holidays are about coming together; spending time with loved ones can take on a whole new meaning if you’re cut off from them. For parents that are split up it’s even harder to juggle who gets to be with who on Christmas day. If you’re finding yourself stressing about how much time you’ll get to spend with your kids this holiday season, here are some tips to help maximize the time you spend together.

  • Make The Most…

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