PARENTAL ALIENATION AWARENESS DAY: APRIL 25, 2014, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

April 30, 2014 by Michelle Glogovac, Chair, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of California


I was very fortunate to be surrounded by so many people who are fighting for shared parenting on Parental Alienation Awareness day in Los Angeles, California. National Parents Organization of California joined Jason Patric and his organization, Stand Up For Gus at a press conference on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. Joe Sorge, producer of Divorce Corp joined us and spoke about the need for family law reform, within our court system and state as a whole.

The day was inspiring and energetic and raised further awareness on the reform that needs to occur. National Parents Organization of California is working hard at legal and legislative reform to ensure that shared parenting becomes the norm and not the exception.

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A Victory For Jason Patric

Thanks to the First Amendment, the actor fends off a restraining order demanded by the mother of his four-year-old child.

On Monday, Jason Patric prevailed in what is likely a first-of-its-kind legal dispute. The actor’s ex-girlfriend Danielle Schreiber demanded a restraining order that would have prevented Patric from using their son’s name for “Stand Up for Gus,” an advocacy outfit that raises awareness of parental alienation.

Amy Baker: Author, Researcher, Expert on Parental Alienation

Allow us to introduce Amy Baker, Ph.D., a specialist in Developmental Psychology who is a strong advocate for the values of the Stand Up for Gus Campaign. Dr. Baker holds a degree from Teachers College of Columbia University and has spent the past 20 years conducting research on various issues related to parent-child relationships.

She has written several books on parental alienation. Deeply concerned about the effects of this syndrome, Dr. Baker conducts trainings for legal and mental health professionals and coaches parents to better deal with the problem.

We conducted a brief Q&A with Dr. Baker to receive a professional understanding of the issue and to learn about various resources for children and parents suffering from PAS.


What is “Parental Alienation Syndrome”?

A: PAS is the term reserved to describe children who have been manipulated by one parent to unjustifiably reject the other parent. The term “alienated child” is also used.

Alienated children exhibit certain behaviors that differentiate them from children who are rejecting a parent for a rational and legitimate reason, whom we refer to as estranged.


What are the effects of PAS on the following groups: children, parents (and adults who have suffered PAS in their childhood)?

A: I conducted a study of 40 adults who related that when they were children they were alienated from one parent by the other parent. These adults reported that they suffered terribly from the experience, both in the short-term and over the course of their lives. They reported low self-esteem, difficulties trusting other people, depression, alcohol and drug dependency, and high rates of divorce in their own relationships. These qualitative findings have been replicated in several independent studies with standardized measures.

All of the studies reveal strong associations between alienation and poor outcomes.


What can a parent do to help their child (and themselves) if their (former) parent/partner is practicing alienation tendencies towards their family?

A: Parents who believe that the other parent of their child is trying to turn their child against them need to first and foremost, get educated about the likely landmines to avoid.

Second, they need to get legal representation from an attorney who “gets” alienation.

Third, they need emotional support by way of an informed mental health counselor and/or participation in a mutual-support-group, specially formed by other parents dealing with this problem.


Likewise, if a child is cognizant of the problem, what can they do to help themselves if they realize one of their parents is trying to alienate the other?

A: Ask to speak to a therapist or counselor who can help them figure out how to stay out of the middle of their parents’ conflict. The I Don’t Want to Choose book, written by Katherine Andre and myself, has lots of tips and tools to help kids with that.


What are some of the best resources for families experiencing PAS (either in the present or that which has taken place in the past)?

A: Parents dealing with parental alienation may find the following resources helpful:


 

Parents dealing with parental alienation may find the following resources helpful:

For more information, please visit: www.amyjlbaker.com

 

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Parents need their children as much as children need their parents.
-Paul Carvel

When you are a child growing up it may not occur to you that your parents are learning just as much as they teaching you.  A cliché we hear all the time is, “Children should come with instruction manuals.”

But the same logic applies the other way around.  We need our babies just as much as they need us.  This family arrangement does not work without the essential duality: children and their parents.

But there is another significant duality besides the parent/child relationship.  This is the duality of the father and mother, working in tandem to raise their offspring.  (This duality may exist just as harmoniously in same-sex couples where both individuals provide the requirements of each parental role.)

The combination of both parents’ presence can serve as a lifetime of checks and balances that provide for the best outcome when working.  Like the harmony symbolized in the Ying/Yang symbol, there are unique values and qualities that each parent brings when it comes to raising their offspring.

For instance, in the recent, critically acclaimed film, “Absent,” the filmmakers broker the idea that your father is actually the first person to either choose you or not choose you.  This idea is critical to understanding how well a person develops emotionally.  Mothers provide an automatic emotional bond with their offspring that is present throughout their nourishment through the womb.  But fathers have a critical role to play when that child is born.  They are our first exposure to the world at large- the first human being in our lives with the choice of seeing us and accepting us.

Neither of these parents’ worth outweighs the other.  Instead, like the necessary duality that the Ying/Yang symbol represents, they complement each other.  Get knocked down at school by a bully?  Who do you run to?  If you go to Mom she might wipe your nose and tell you it’s okay.  If you go to Dad, he might teach you how to fight back.  Of course, these are stereotypes based on traditional gender roles.  It may be more likely today that your “mama bear” tells you to fight back while your stay-at-home father dries your tears.  The point isn’t which parent lives up to the preconceived gender role.  The point is that each parent contributes according to their abilities, balancing out the instruction and support a child needs to grow up harmoniously.

We are opposed to denying any parent the right to being an invaluable portion of a child’s life because we understand the need for a child to grow up with two loving parents.

What are some of the things you are proud to say that you uniquely provide your child as their father/mother?

 

What it Means to Stand Up

What does it mean to stand up for something?  To freedom fighters like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ghandi, it meant putting everything on the line, every single day to bring about social justice.  It meant never quitting, never growing complacent, never accepting what they knew in their hearts was wrong.

There is another quote that may be even more apropos to describe our cause.  It comes from Desmond Tutu, another human rights advocate: “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master.  I want the full menu of rights.”

What we are involved in here is another kind of freedom fight.  It is for another group of individuals facing disenfranchisement.  Our children.  What’s special about this struggle is that it is to protect the innocents.  Children are born into this world helpless.  They need the adults in their lives to nurture, protect and love them.  When they are used by one parent as a pawn in a relationship struggle or even just kept from a mother or a father at the unilateral whim of one adult, that child suffers irreparable harm.  To be cut off from one half of the dual harmony that occurs when both parents are in a child’s life is to lose out on so much.

We teach our children of these great leaders, how they held fast to their beliefs because they dreamed of something bigger than themselves.  We tell them that Davids can stand up to monstrous Goliaths even when all the odds are against them.

Why?

We speak of these stories in the hopes that they will inspire our children to be great men and women and to let them know that justice can prevail.  But in order to truly live by our words, we can never give up fighting for what we truly believe in.

The innocents.

What it means to stand up is to try every day to make this world a better place.

What do you believe is worth standing up for and what would you do to fight for what you believe in?

We Reap What We Sew

“We may be done with the past but the past is not done with us.”
-Magnolia

What are the long-term effects of warring, separated or divorced parents, where one is determined to exclude the other from contact with their child or children?  The short answer is that it is extremely detrimental to the development of a fully realized adult who is capable of self-love and loving others.

Studies report that adults who grow up with Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) suffer from low self-esteem, self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and are prone to addiction and substance abuse.

The negative ripple effects can poison their later adult relationships due to the modeling they received from observing the unhealthy ways in which their parents chose to interact with each other.

Is this a form of child abuse?

Perhaps.

Let’s consider how a child must feel growing up in a household where one parent is purposefully excluded from having a loving, grounded relationship with both parents.  Typically, the kinds of strategies employed by one parent in discounting another parent include the following: bad-mouthing the other, effacing a parent from the life and thoughts of a child, limiting contact, perpetuating the notion that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose between parents, and/or making the child believe that he/she is unloved by a parent.

It is no wonder that children who grow up in this environment have feelings of unworthiness.  It is no surprise that they may even experience severe guilt related to feelings of betraying the alienated parent.  Sadder still is the notion that adults who suffered through these difficulties may one day perpetuate the cycle by unwittingly committing the same types of destructive, alienating behaviors on their future partners and even their own children.

How do we stop this?  Do we throw up our hands and resign ourselves to accepting parental alienation as a byproduct of our divorce-rampant modern day culture?  Or can we be mindful and intentional about strengthening, repairing and improving our relationships?  It is conceivable that a paradigm shift can turn around this dreary cycle.  Let us replace hate and alienation by first recognizing that both parents are needed in each child’s life.

Let us be cognizant of the ways that we may be polluting our kid’s lives by letting the hurtful, destructive dramas of our adult relationships spill over into theirs.  Let us strive to do better by our children by protecting them from the ugliness that emerges when one parent is vilified.  We owe it to our children (and one day their offspring) to offer the olive branch even when it is so much easier to resort to finger-pointing and laying blame.

Our children need us to be better.

What can we do today to ensure that our children grow up well-adjusted and feel loved?

The Playfulness of Childhood

Growing up just twenty years ago the world was a vastly different place.  We hear all the time that today’s children don’t go outside and play enough.  They are cooped up indoors because it is unsafe to run around the streets like their parents did.  Or we hear others lament today’s culture that emphasizes the computer or the IPAD as toys rather than “old-fashioned” playthings like blocks or even the Barbie Dolls of past generations.

Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the world is less safe.  Perhaps there are more exciting toys for kids to play with but does that mean that the nature of childhood has changed?

The subject of childhood was paramount to author, Ray Bradbury, and his novel, Dandelion Wine, is his celebration of the wonder of summer for adventurous little boys.  The kind who get up at the crack of dawn to run barefoot through the grass, playing until their mothers and fathers holler for them to return home.  It is set in the year 1928 and it depicts a very different time for youngsters.

“Well as anyone knew, the hills around town were wild with friends putting cows to riot, playing barometer to the atmospheric changes, taking sun, peeling like calendars each day to take more sun.  To catch those friends, you must run faster than foxes or squirrels.”

Sounds quaint, right?  It also sounds kind of terrific to spend your days running around with your buddies, playing outside.

Okay, so maybe we have lost a little of that adventurousness as we have gone to a more digital society.

But childhood itself has not changed.  Nor have its playful children.  As a society we may boast more gadgets, more ways to stay connected and even more toys, but our children are the same.  Deep down, they still want the same things we wanted when we were little.  They long for playtime, for friends, for fun, for security and for love.

As our world becomes more technology-driven and thus more complex, the grounding love and devotion that comes from a home in which two parents can provide a harmonious relationship is even more important than ever.  If that is not possible due to differences between the two parents, then it is tantamount that even when the parental union is absent, each of the parents’ influence upon the child is not.

What would you like to give your child to better enjoy their childhood that you feel is currently missing?