We live in an age where state authorities have taken it upon themselves to mandate relationships. As crazy as it sounds, that is what they do. We also have the court system creating syndromes where none exist. This is done so that people who are incapable of developing and maintaining relationships on their own, can force others to be in relationship with them. We have judges who want to play along in this little game of mandating relationships, and lawyers who allow it to happen because they can earn a lot of money doing so.
Read the latest, in a string of state control over children, from West Bloomfield, Michigan:
This is all such a farce for several reasons! First off, I contend that only an abusive parent would force their children to have a relationship with them. As difficult as it is, if the other parent is lying about you, but you are able to spend time with your children, the children will know how you treat them when they are with you. Children know. Children are not stupid. Children come to know the truth, as they experience it, not by what is written, not by what is told to them, but by their life experience of the time they spend with you.
Why this judge is participating in a farce:
1. The state’s only interest in the parent-child relationship is due to the state ensuring “the Best Interest of the Child”. Removing children from the safety of their home and both parents is not in their best interest, and will harm them in a FAR greater way than if they are not spending time with one parent. It may be harmful if they are being denied time with a parent, but we all know that children find a way to do what they want to do, especially as they get older.
2. If this judge truly believes that PAS is the problem here, then she would hold the mother accountable and not the children. Stop punishing the victims!
3. A reasonable parent would realize that court “forced” interaction with anyone will not deepen anyone’s affection for you. Maybe the father should ask for court ordered therapy sessions where they may get to the bottom of what is happening and work on their relationship. This would afford an opportunity to repair a broken relationship, and not demand “parental rights”.
I realize that there is much more to ANY court story than meets the eye. I will try and research this case to find out more information, but until then, on the surface, it is pretty pathetic. Both parents and the professionals on this case are failing the children and I hope, for the children’s sake, that someone will do the right thing!
After years of parents trying to expose the detriment to children in the Family court System, the news media is finally willing to cover this! I reached out to the news media after my own abusive case, but the media said, “This is not news”. Luckily, I proved my case in court.
Many other parents (moms and dads, I might add) have also tried to get media coverage, to no avail. I am not sure why the media is finally covering abuse and parenting consultants in the past year or so, but let us thank God for the blessing of exposure now!
Recently, a parent that I know, but have never worked with professionally, sent me a rant about how PAS is very real. She knows that my position is that it is not real, except in VERY extreme circumstances. The only time I will agree that PAS has been used against a parent is when they are not allowed to see their children at all, and the other parent tells the children that their mom/dad can see them anytime they want to, but choose not to. The other parent will often tell the children it is because mom/dad doesn’t love them. In that kind of case, the parent has zero time with the children to demonstrate that what the custodial parent says is not true. In a case like that, I do think alienation occurs. Otherwise, it is used as a court strategy to punish an ex.
Now one might wonder how does a parent have ZERO time with their children? Sadly, it does happen. A Family Court judge can find a parent is “endangering” the children and take away all parenting time. I, personally think that this violates the law. Judges have the option to grant supervised visitation, but sometimes, all parenting time is taken away. Sometimes, a judge will take it away without giving any conditions through which, the parent can get their time restored.
It can also happen when a parent is allowed parenting time per a court order, and the other parent just withholds the children. One might also think, how can that happen? Can’t they just go to court? Well, sometimes court helps, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, a case has been so badly managed from a legal standpoint, whether it be acting pro se (representing yourself), or due to a really lazy or misguided attorney, that the judge has told you both to stay out of their court room.
Anyway, back on topic.
I have known parents with minimal parenting time who experience the horror of having an ex that tells lies about them or badmouth them in front of the children. They are not alienated from their children, no matter how hard the other parent tries to make it happen.
I also know parents who have 50-50 parenting time with their children, and scream alienation when their children start to express any desire to not spend time at their home.
What is the difference? How can one parent, with minimal time not be alienated, while the other parent claims to be alienated? The difference is that the one parent focuses on their children when the children are in their care, and the other parent chooses to focus on the battle during their parent time. The parents I have known, who claim parental alienation, cannot accept responsibility for their situations. They have latched onto blaming the other parent for every single parent-child clash they experience. It wears on the children after a while.
I have worked with many parents over the years, even before I ever thought of doing it professionally. Once my ordeal started in 1998, I reached out to other parents and they also somehow found me., and we would share our experiences of the evils of doing battle in the court setting. I can tell you that no matter how minimal the parenting time allowed to a parent, if they show the children love and a commitment to solid parenting when the children are in their presence, they do not lose their children’s affection. No matter what. Words can never beat deeds. Period. The other parent can bad mouth you until the cows come home. As long as you prove your love with actions, your children will see the truth. The children may be confused as to why their other parent says such crazy things about you, but they will eventually figure it out.
What I have seen across the board from parents who feel “alienated” is that they:
1. Have a drug or alcohol addiction that interferes with their ability to be fully present during parenting time, and they are very disengaged from their children.
2. They discount their children’s feelings about life events. for example, when it comes to a new significant other, they will just spring that relationship on the children, without having any discussion or without preparing the children for this change. I have seen parents move their new boyfriend or girlfriend in and be shocked when their kids come for parenting time and are upset to learn that mom/dad has a stranger living there.
3. They continue to engage in unhealthy relationships in their life and not protect the children from those unhealthy relationships. Some parents are so lonely, with such low self esteem, that they will become involved with the first member of the opposite sex who gives them any attention whatsoever. Many of these partners who are willing to jump into a relationship with someone they barely know have low self esteem, too. They are abusive, often chemically dependent, and will not take long to demonstrate how abusive they are to you, and to your children. Exposing children to that is cruel and will interfere with how your children regard you, ad how willing they will be to spend time at your home.
4. Rather than spend time on new traditions and making their house a home, they spend all of their parenting time complaining or bad mouthing their ex,and the children feel ignored and hurt.
So my point is that the parents who are “alienated” have often done it to themselves.
I know that many people will strongly disagree with my opinion, but it is my opinion. With almost 20 years of seeing these patterns, I have more evidence than there is evidence that there is such a thing as PAS.
As always, I will add the American Psychological Associations stance on PAS. Read about that here.
This post is more on my theme for this week, “The greatest of these is love”. Love is the answer. It is the one thing that is missing from the Family Court System. How can a system that works with families be devoid of love?
How do I treat parents who struggle for years without end in on-going court battles? Why do I connect with these parents, while the court authorities label these families , placing judgment, such as high conflict, or label the parents and children with some mental behavior disorder? While court authorities may be correct in recognizing some disorders that are present in these lives, they may instead be seeing a situational manifestation of the underlying stress, emotions, extreme fear, and lack of understanding the system that keeps these people living back brained, every day of their lives.
These parents wake up in the morning wondering why. Why did this happen to me? They go to bed at night asking, why. Why can’t this stop? Why can’t I have my life back? Why? I never did anything to deserve this! No one ever called me a bad parent before. They cannot understand for the life of them how the things they have always done without being vilified for, and were instead, often praised for, are now treated like a crime. Treated as a crime that is not on the books, not listed in the world in general, as criminal behavior, but in this new setting of darkness, it is a crime and punishable.
I’d like to see the system change. The system can work where it needs to, but it takes so long, and it is not really doing any justice. It was put in place to help people terminate a marriage, and to establish a place in their child’s life after that marriage has ended. It was not put in place to follow families for years, and to pick at every little parenting decision that they make. Those of us who are parents understand that we don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes we don’t know what to do, and that is made worse by not having the freedom to figure it out through trial and error. We do our best much of the time. There are certain triggers for parents, or anyone for that matter, who is struggling. When you are hungry, lonely, tired, angry or afraid, you don’t always do the right thing, have the right reaction, or choose the right path.
All people have these feelings from me to time in their life, but the families who are frequent fliers in court experience trauma all the time. They go through life thinking that they are done with this system, and wake up one day and there it is again. Rearing its ugly head. It is maddening to try to become free, and find out you are not. In their face is another battle, and another request for thousands of dollars to pay an attorney, thousands of dollars that this parent would rather spend on their family. Thousands of dollars they would rather spend on their family, on their children, and on more positive things in life.
You can’t disengage from the Family Court because if you don’t respond, if you don’t show up, the consequences are severe. The other party wins. What kind of justice is that? We should be able to say, no more! I quit. I’m done! I am not going to engage in this nastiness anymore! I am not going to engage in that which takes me away from my children. I am not going to engage in that which makes me so weary that it takes away so much time and energy away from my children, that it is beyond ridiculous. I’m not going to do it anymore.
But they do not let people do that. Parents are often punished with a financial judgement or losing time with their children, and sometimes, losing their children completely. They have been accused of doing things that are often unproven. Accused of things that other parents do in their daily lives, and no one judges them for it, or punishes them for it, and no one says anything to them about it. No one thinks anything of it when t involves a parent not in the Family court setting, because no one is pointing it out in a court of law, and saying that they don’t like that behavior. Unfortunately, that is what these on-going court battles are really all about. One parent doesn’t like what the other parent is doing. It has nothing to do with laws, and so these things don’t belong in court. They just don’t.
What I do differently, is that I love these people. I accept them for who they are. I accept the fact that they have faults, like we all do, and I help them take the system that is all powerful, and break it down to size. I help them realize that it is a set back in life, but they cannot allow it to be all consuming. I cannot do it for them, though. They do it for themselves, but what happens is that I trust them to do it. I stand back and I let them do it. And if they are struggling to know what to do, at times, I work with them to help them figure it out.
We need to be loving these families. We need to be holding them in our hearts. We need to be loving the children, and allowing both parents to be who they are and not label what kind of parenting they should do. Some will co-parent, and do it well. Some will co-parent and not do it well. Some will not be able to co-parent, and they will need to find another way, but it doesn’t need to be labeled as anything other than parenting. It doesn’t mean that these parents are bad.
In a lot of these battles the parents are chastised for their struggle. Judges and court authorities chastise them for bad mouthing each other. Yet, what is the court doing? What are the court authorities doing? They, too, are badmouthing the parents. They are not looking for the positive. They are looking for who is to blame. They are looking to find fault. They are often looking, not for the good parent, but which one is the worst parent. The court thinks that both parents are bad, because, to be honest, the court doesn’t think highly of either one of these people.
We have to do better, and I know we can do better, and when these parents are supported and accepted for who they are, and held accountable when the children aren’t safe, or the children are hurting emotionally. What I mean by accountable is not punishment, but it is, asking them what action they will take for their children’s security. We need to give them the support, the tools and the space, to rectify the problems.
These parents wants to make things better. They want to do better for their kids. They want to be left in peace. They want that stress taken away, so that they can focus on parenting and moving in a better direction for them and their children. Sometimes the other parent is going to move in a better direction with them, and sometimes they are not. When the other parent will not move in a positive direction, we need to give a parent the permission to say, “They are not going to move on with me, so I have to move on by myself.” Then, just let it be.
The relationship will be what it is going to be, and if given time, space, and acceptance, they might come into a better relationship. If court professionals keep pointing out how bad one is to the other, the court system is doing what they accuse these parents of doing to each other all the time-badmouthing. I think it would be much better if the court would focus on the positive things that these parents are doing, because there are positives.
I came from my own high conflict battle. The other parent and I were never going to see eye to eye. We had completely different world views. We married when we were young, before our front brains were developed, and by the time our brains were developed, we were totally different, with different views of the world, and different paths we wanted to take, and that is all there was.
Divorce law shouldn’t be about changing the people into what some legal authority wants them to be, because this court involvement in families ends when children are 18. So why should a parent change their life, and who they are for 1-18 years in the system, when their life will hopefully be 100 years long or so, and they have to be who they are. People have to be who they are, and be accepted for who they are and not criticized all the time. And then they can soar! But keeping these families in court is like tying an anchor to them. It’s a heavy weight that they always carry, and they cannot fly. They cannot be free. The court should be about laws, but families are about love. And if the court is not going to love them, then the court needs to get out of their way, and let them be the light, and the love, for their children.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I created my first website, I had a page called, “Rate Your PC”. My plan was to collect information on all Parenting Consultants in Minnesota so we could find out if there were any good ones, and keep the good ones in business while weeding out the bad ones. At the time, my attitude about being a PC was, “Hell NO!” I NEVER wanted to inflict that kind of damage on a family. Period.
After working as a coach, it turned out that most of my clients came to me for help dealing with their parenting consultant and hostile co-parent. I blogged about PCs and people would find me because of that. After a while, I decided that I really needed to write a book because all of the questions were the same: “How do you get rid of a parenting consultant (coordinator)?” “Why won’t they do something about my ex?” “How did I become the bad guy in all of this?” “Can you file a complaint against a PC?” All of these questions and more are covered in my book, “The Parenting Consultant Nightmare”
As part of my research for the book, I attending the training to be a Parenting Consultant. Don’t think for a moment that my stomach wasn’t queasy. It was. I attended the Parenting Time expediter training as well, even though it was facilitated by my former PTE and PC. I think she was much more intimidated than I was. Because the training was pretty good, I did decide to offer these services. It’s something I struggle with all the time. Is it the right thing to do? If you have any feedback on the question, I hope you’ll either comment after the post, or send in a contact form through the website. Many clients tell me they want me to offer those services because I “get it”. Still, if I am their coach, I cannot be their PC. Anyway, having attended the training, and offering PC services, made me rethink that “Rate your PC” page. Not because I felt hypocritical in collecting the data, and not because I have become “one of them”, but because I realized it was not giving me what I was looking for.
Being a friend to parents who deal with high conflict co-parenting situations is not easy. I can help you with many things, and I have succeeded in empowering people into making the system work better for them, but I cannot make the situation go away completely. If you have a co-parent who is always on the attack, they are going to stay on the attack, however, if you are empowered, their interest in you tends to decrease significantly. The less reactive you are, the less they continue to try. So I have had to rethink and shift gears as I learn more about the issue from the viewpoint of the parenting consultants or parenting coordinators, and what works for you and what doesn’t and have changed my approach somewhat. I decided to stop collecting that data and had good reasons to stop collecting it.
One reason was that I did not get any good reviews. If anyone has had a parenting consultant or parent coordinator on your case, that makes sense. You would not expect to find anyone who knows how to manage these high conflict cases. But are there really no good ones? Typically, people are willing to take time reporting a negative, but rarely will report a positive. I’d like to find out there are some good ones available, but it did not look like anyone would let me know that aspect.
Another reason I quit collecting data is because people are afraid. They are not going to turn in that information unless they know me and trust me. Let’s face it, those of you in high conflict cases involving a PC just do not trust anyone. You end up wondering where the information goes and who does it go to and worry that you may not stay anonymous? My clients do learn they can trust me, and that I am not “one of them (PCs)” so through my daily work I can learn who the good and bad PCs are. Again, no good PCs to report, but if you had someone who actually decreased the conflict, why would you be looking for a website, blog or coach to tell that story to? Most likely, you would just go about living life, quite happily, I might add. I still like to hold out hope that there are some out there.
Since I no longer collect information about PCs, I want to share with you a website where you can write a review of your parenting consultant, parenting coordinator or parenting time expediter. It has been around for a while, but the owner of the site is not really going through those court issues anymore, from what I understand, and so I don’t think the owner does much with the site anymore. That makes it harder to find when searching on the internet. You can help move it up in the searches by adding reviews. The reviews are listed as a Parenting Time Expediter directory, but most PTEs also work as PCs.
For anyone who wants to write a review of their court professional, please do so on that directory site. I think it would be an excellent resource for parents who need to choose a PC or PTE, whether the first time appointing one, or if the old one has left the case and they need to appoint someone new. If you have anyone to report on, please do it at:
I hope that we can raise awareness about that site so that people can come away with options for who to appoint and not to appoint. Remember, it is important to share who the good guys are. It’s not just about the bad guys!
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Things appear to be happening all across the nation with regards to the unconstitutionality of many things concerning the Family Court System. Pennsylvania has banned Parenting Coordinators (Called Parenting Consultants in Minnesota). I have shared that info with a trusted attorney looking into how that could be accomplished in other states, too. Michelle MacDonald has filed her lawsuit against Judge David Knutson in Federal court, and is also seeking relief from the US Supreme Court, asking that courts correct injustices as swiftly as they inflict it. And now, we have Louisiana asking questions about court jurisdiction in regards to property matters. It is all very intriguing, but leaves this write feeling very hopeful about a new future with the way family courts decide divorce and custody matters, or more accurately, how they pass off and fail to do anything these days, leaving parents and children in limbo, or at the mercy of a third party court authority with now rules and a whole lot of power over parents and their children.
This one snuck by me. I did not realize that New Jersey has also banned PCS! It is coming folks. A new kind of freedom. I hope it is in time for some of you to get your children back so you can repair the damage done, like what happened to this parent and this parent.
As you may or may not know, I wrote a book that was self published last year, “The Parenting Consultant Nightmare”. I have recently had some attention regarding this book. Last Saturday, Michelle MacDonald, asked me to give a talk to her non profit Family Innocence, about my book and how it came to be. My talk was well received. The event was video taped so as soon as they get it up on the Family Innocence website, I will cross post it here. I will also publish the speech on my blog, so stay tuned. Some lawyers and a Judge are reading my book right now. If you’d like to buy a copy, it is available on Amazon and Kindle.
Keep an eye out boys and girls! It is just a matter of time. Can you feel it? Miracles do happen and prayers do get answered!
There are so many things happening in Minnesota Family Courts. Somethings I can report and some I cannot report just yet, but stay tuned.
In today’s news, here is a new blog that seems very informative for people in the throws of Family Court System. I used to tell people that I felt as though I had been thrown in prison, even though I had committed no crime, other than to get divorced. Anyway, here’s the blog (they picked up the Michelle MacDonald unlawful detainment, too):
Also, I know I keep repeating myself about Michelle MacDonald, mighty warrior, but she is. There is a hearing on Friday in the civil rights case against Judge David Knutson in the Sandra Rucki case. This is something to watch as it can have far reaching implications across the nation. Families should not be in the court system for years and have their children swallowed up by it. If you are not in it, don’t go there! If you are in it, do everything you can to get out. Now. If you need help, I can share some strategies with you! My contact info is above (on the header).
If you’d like to know more about the Rucki case and the Federal lawsuit against Judge Knutson, here are some videos to watch:
Last, but certainly not least, do not forget to watch Divorce Corp the movie, January 10, 2013-January 16, 2013.