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!
As a Life and Divorce coach, I am sometimes misunderstood and misinterpreted. Over the years, I brought myself out of a deep dark place and into a life of joy and happiness. I have successfully shown many others how to turn their backs on the darkness and move into their own piece of happiness, focusing on finding their way to the life they dream of. I’ve been able to help many people, but not everyone. Some people want to stay stuck. If an individual wants to stay stuck in something bad, there is nothing I can do. There is also nothing a psychologist, lawyer, or judge can do either. They may try, but ultimately they will have to leave you behind and move onto the people who will work with them to get where they want to be.
I work mostly with people in the Family Court System. These are parents who find themselves in a high conflict divorce situation, getting beaten to a pulp (legally) by the confounding judge, who is unable to understand what the heck it is that drives you to do the things you do.
I understand domestic violence. I understand parental alienation (which is not the same as Parental Alienation Syndrome). I understand Domestic Violence Organizations. I understand Father’s Rights Groups. I understand the parent who lives under a microscope for years. I understand the legal community. I understand the psychologists. I understand a lot of what happens in Family Court. I understand how people got into the mess they have gotten themselves into. Understanding all these things does not mean that I want you to focus on them.
I can lose someone’s attention and respect when I tell them that they and their attorney are putting too much emphasis on domestic violence in their family court case. I also anger people when I tell them that parental alienation syndrome is not real. That statement can be confused with not believing that parental alienation happens. I know it happens. I have even experienced it for myself. It happened to my youngest son and I, at the hands of a manipulative father, but my son and I are closer than ever now because I always trusted him to know truth and to figure out what was happening. I did what I could, left alone what I could not do, and put my energy into waiting for my son to be ready to restore our relationship. I had faith that I had raised him in a way in which he would see truth, and now, we are closer than ever.
It was a long way from being blind sided by the nastiness of Family Court to getting to where I am today.
More than believing in parental alienation, I believe that co-dependence and Legal Abuse Syndrome are likely driving the on-going family court nightmares. A good psychologist should tell you that as long as there is one strong parent, your child can overcome the trauma, regardless of what your ex throws at you. I have seen this to be true. In my own case, I stopped being the victim of domestic violence and stopped adding to the drama. I wanted a better life for my children and myself. That meant that I would have to pull myself up by my bootstraps, get healthy, and work with the professionals in the Family Court System on their level. They were not going to listen to me if I only spoke to them when I was at the point of hysterics. I was never heard when I screamed and swore at them, and you won’t get far with that either. They were not going to allow me to educate them. These were educated professionals and if I was so smart, how come I couldn’t put an end to this conflict in my family? Why did they have to make decisions about my children? They could not understand and I could not make them understand. I found them to be obstacles to moving on with my life. They were also, definitely, hindering my children’s development. I found that they were not the answer and they should not be my focus. Instead, my focus should be on myself, and my children. That is when I began to turn that ship around, and in doing so, I freed myself and my children of those professionals forever. No more obstacles. No more hindrances.
This is what I do for my clients as well. Please don’t think that this can happen overnight. It is a process. I help my clients through that process, too. Not every consult turns into a client though. Some people think I am nuts and they never come back. They do not want to give up that crutch of family court. That is sad because most people come to me due to their frustration with how the Family Court is not helping the situation, but is instead, making it much, much worse and they don’t want to refocus there energy anywhere else. It is a lot of work, and it is painful and ugly to peel back the layers of you, and so some people cannot stomach it.
Think about this for a minute. Maybe it will make sense to you and maybe it won’t. I can only put it out there and hope that you can make some sense out of it. When you are a victim of domestic violence and look to the family court to help you with it, that is your focus. If you keep focusing there, and seek professionals who will understand, that focus is taking your time, energy and money away from having the life you want. You may think that you cannot have the life you want, but I am sorry to tell you, it is not true. You are the one keeping your life and your children’s lives in the family court. Your ex may stay there, and he or she may use it against you, but if you really get yourself strong, stay confident in your truths, and put your focus outside of the court, you will see miracles happen. The people I see who beat this system at its own game, refocus on their life and their children and slowly shift their thoughts and energies away from their nasty ex and the nasty court people, are the ones who succeed in getting their story told. The people who latch on to their domestic violence experience or try to expose parental alienation will find that they ramp up the conflict, get more deeply embedded in the Family Court System, and feel more and more stuck over time. I am not saying that domestic violence or parental alienation should be tolerated or ignored. I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is you cannot push those memes the entire time because there are only certain ways to successfully use those arguments in family court.
Not everything involved with the conflict is related to domestic abuse or parental alienation. Some things are communication issues and related to how you speak to or correspond with you ex. Some issues are related to those Mars-Venus, male-female issues, too. Some issues have to do with the stage of development your child is in, as well, and so you need to really consider what is driving the conflict for each particular issue that arises. You cannot blame everything on domestic violence or parental alienation because the professionals don’t always have any recourse.
This post may anger some people and intrigue others. It’s hard to really explain it all in one blog post! If you are interested in finding out how to free yourself of the family court, as much as possible, please contact me. I’d love to consult with you to tell you more. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to see a client who grasps these concepts and takes back their life!
Have you had your fill of Family Court? Are you tired of the battle, and think or hope that your ex is sick of it, too?
Life’s Doors Mediation is looking for parents who have been at war for too long and want to find a new way to parent, whether that means co-parenting, parallel parenting, or something else that we come up with. I have been quite successful in changing the direction of parents who are looking to the family court for answers. I’d like to help you.
If you live in Minnesota, please give me a call. The first 2 parents who call me will get a free assessment to see if we can make a positive change to your situation. I will even contact your ex to see if they would be willing to call a truce. After that, I will work with you separately or together, as needed without charge. You have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain. Your children have a lot to gain also.
Can you be a little vulnerable and let go of the family court crutch? Find out today, 763-566-2282. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Mediation can be an anxiety and fear producing experience. it is rarely something people look forward to. Many of the first conversations I have with people who are in the process of finding a mediator involve the following language, or something similar:
“Well, _________ says we have to try mediation. It will probably be a very short meeting because we can never agree on anything. I just don’t see him/her saying anything other than, “NO!”. That’s all it ever is.”
Still, they are willing to set up that appointment and come in to mediate, and they are usually very surprised at the outcome.
Rarely does anyone look forward to mediation. Usually, the parties have not spoken in quite some time, and if they have, the conversation quickly escalates into an argument. Nobody wants to embrace conflict. Conflict is unpleasant and something most people do their best to avoid. The thought of sitting down in a room with this person seems unthinkable because of the history of the relationship and because you know this person all too well. You can only think of all the mean and nasty things that other person has ever said to you, and every horrible experience you have been through with them or because of them. Those negative thoughts are why it is easier to ignore the problem, rather than deal with the problem. However, if you don’t deal with the problem, it will not go away. Sometimes when that problem is dropped into the legal process, it will only grow bigger. Legal proceedings are relationship problems on steroids.
If you can look at mediation not as a conflict, but as an opportunity to come to resolution, you can quickly see areas where you and the other person have some common ground. A good mediator will point out areas where the two of you are in agreement from early in the process. You need to remember that mediation is not only anxiety and fear producing for you, but also for the other person. They are not looking forward to the experience either.
Mediation can be a very positive experience and it can change relationships for the better. That doesn’t mean that you are going to repair the relationship. That will sometimes happen, but more often, you can bring closure or a new direction to the relationship. That may be a scary thought, but think of it this way, whatever the relationship is right now, if all it involves in not being on speaking terms, or escalating arguments, it is not working the way it is. Putting an end to the conflict and changing the relationship going forward, can put you on a more positive path, even if that means you walk your path, and they walk a different path.
You can make mediation a positive experience for you, by approaching it in a positive way. Don’t assume the worst. Go about it with no preconceived notions. If you come out without an agreement, you are no worse off than you were before, but remember, you may come out ahead.
Mediation is a confidential process so you can speak openly and not fear any ramifications in court later. As a matter of fact, if the issue is taken into court, and the other party tries to tell the judge that you said, “X, Y or Z” in mediation, the judge will stop any further discussion of what was said in mediation. Go into mediation and say what you need to say. That alone can be quite healing for people.
Some other ways to ensure that mediation is a positive experience for you are to:
1. Make sure you are well rested.
2. Make sure that you will not be hungry. If you schedule around lunch or dinner time, eat before the session if you can. If not, bring a snack. Feel free to take a break if you need to. Mediators will usually do their best to make sure their clients basic needs are met.
3. Come prepared with your idea for resolution. Do not think in terms of what you think the other party may or may not agree to. You may come out very surprised. It happens more often than not. Ask for what you need, but also be prepared to compromise.
4. Consider what the other party is asking for. If you need a moment to think about it, be sure to let the mediator know that. You do not have to agree to something that you do not want to do, but sometimes a knee jerk reaction is to say no, when the reality is, it may be a workable solution.
5. Think about your life going forward, not about the past. Even if the relationship was bad, it may improve when you can agree to move forward after coming to some resolution of the issues that have you entrenched in battle.
6. Don’t think of it in terms of all or nothing. Partial agreements can be very helpful, too. You may be able to resolve some of your issues and that is a step in the right direction. You would be surprised how often an agreement on a small issue starts the ball rolling on bigger issues. Sometimes, people return to mediation after coming out of a first session with a partial agreement. After having some time to reflect on a prior session, people realize that they can return to mediation and work out the rest of the agreement.
7. Keep your discussion positive and use I statements. Try not to place blame. How you got to where you are doesn’t have to interfere with a plan that moves you forward.
8. Consider mediation a new beginning. Even when you do not find resolution, the conversation can help you clarify where the relationship is at. You no longer have to wonder if you will or will not be able to have a productive conversation. Let the experience shape how you will go forward with or without the other party. Sometimes relationships do have to end, but it opens our lives up for new relationships going forward. We can take what we have learned to make better choices in the future.
Mediation offers the opportunity to redefine relationships. It also offers an opportunity to be creative when resolving conflict. When you stay positive and are open to the possibility of what may happen, your experience will serve you well, even if you are not able to come into an agreement.
If you enter into a mediation session with a positive attitude, it will often spill over to the other side of the table. You can have a positive, productive mediation, provided you go in with a positive attitude and are willing to sit down for an open discussion. You may not get everything that you hope to, but in most cases you can both come out winners.
This year I have been incorporating all pieces of my business into one and doing away with the Coparent Coach. I continue to offer those services and more under Life’s Doors Mediation. Anyway, earlier in the week I decided that it was time to part with the website for the Coparent Coach and thought I had everything now covered in Life’s Doors Mediation’s website. Well, I didn’t. The court battle forum was lost in the process, but good news!! I have added a forum to Life’s Doors’ website. phew.
Many of you had signed up for the old forum and unfortunately, that info is lost, so I encourage you to sign up on the new forum. This will be your place to meet others who are in your situation and share information, as well as, gain information yourself. Discuss anything you would like: coparenting, the legal system, parenting issues, dating woes, stress, lawyers, parenting consultants, parental alienation syndrome, legal abuse syndrome, anything that is on your mind.
Now, as I mentioned, I had several people sign up for the forum, but it was rarely used or commented on. Maybe I was not using it right!! So even though we had a loss, we now have a gain. This time, I can try to make sure that I am doing everything I need to do to get the ball rolling. The new forum should be available soon, so please sign up. And here is a word of caution. These things can be used against you by a hostile ex or a meddling parenting consultant so my advice is to never use your own name, never use a user name that your ex would recognize and be careful about naming court authorities or your ex or if you are going to, be cautious with it. That is my only rule. So get out there and talk to each other, share with each other and learn from each other. There is safety in numbers, my friends!