Victim in the System Basic Course

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I know things have been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but I have been working hard with a new focus. My passion lies with helping parents. Believe me when I tell you that parents can make it through high conflict divorce. Parents can be of great support to their children in the midst of living a nightmare. Parents can be amazing parents, even when they are co-parenting in a high conflict or highly abusive custody situation. Sometimes, you just have to gain a little knowledge and a lot of confidence.

I am working very diligently to brand our new Divorce and Education Center, High Conflict U, and get all of our programs off and running. The latest is a basic free e-course called, “Victim in the System Basic”. Check it out and if you like it, consider signing up for our in-depth “Victim in the System Advanced” paid course. Also remember that we offer coaching services to any parent who is stuck in a high conflict nightmare. You can find out more about all the services provided at Life’s Doors Mediation and High Conflict U by visiting my website.

Take just a few minutes to go through my latest free e-course:

Victim in the System Basic Free E-Course

You can also check out the new website that is all about High Conflict U.

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Renewal

Light Path by dan
Image courtesy of Dan at freedigitalphotos.net

 

When I started my journey to help parents, the goal was to save them from the confusion I knew they felt and to make their journey shorter and less painful than the one I had walked.  I felt called to be a guide, a teacher and provide comfort when I could.  I never promised to have all the answers.  We are all human, after all.  We need that higher power.  We need to believe in something greater than ourselves.  We need hope that there is much more to the journey than our current situation.  We need hope.

I spent the time of my story all alone.  I was alone because I could not find anyone else who really understood.  I started out scared and alone, just me and my two boys, but I did ask God for help.  I did not think he was helping so I quickly dismissed God and searched for someone or something else.  When I did that, there was nothing but me and the prison I was building for myself.

When I was finally tired of my lonely misery and found no one else who understood or had real knowledge I turned back to God and found he was always there.  He had never left me.  I was simply refusing to see him, to hear him and to trust him.  When I gave in to what he was doing, my life changed.  I was freed from a prison that really only existed in my own mind.  The door had always been open for me to walk through.

I was blessed and I wanted to share that blessing, that peace, that freedom with others who were held captive in their imaginary prisons.  I wanted them to see what I finally saw.  The door to your prison is already open.  You simply have to walk through it!

I went on to walk a new journey of helping parents escape the pain of divorce and high conflict custody battles.  Those who are open to change receive great rewards.  I share with them the secret to conquering Family Court and painful relationships.

While I am a mediator, parenting consultant, and parenting time expeditor in Minnesota, and I enjoy that work to a degree, those roles offer limited success.  Results depend on the good faith of the individuals involved.  The success or failure comes from the skills and abilities of the parents themselves and their desire to escape their own prison.

What I really enjoy is teaching.  It is in the one on one work that I do where I see dramatic results for parents.  It even works for high conflict families.  How wonderful it is to see fear and anxiety replaced with peace and confidence and to see that spill over for children.  Parents living peace and confidence are able to offer so much more to their children than are parents who struggle with pain and trauma.  Pain and trauma will not help you find your way out of a paper bag!  Pain, trauma and the stress of a journey through the darkness of family court, leaves you stuck.  Fumbling and stumbling because you aren’t aware of your true power makes you rely on professionals to light the way.   What you do not realize is most of the professionals don’t know the way either.  Even if they do, the professionals will not light your path for you.  They are trying to show you where the light is.  You have to take it.  It is not the lawyer’s job to teach you.  It is not the mediator’s job to teach you.  It isn’t the parenting coordinator’s job to teach you.  In some cases, I have made it my job to teach, but I can only do that in the one-on-one services I provide.  I’ve decided that will be my main focus in this coming year and beyond.

I will show you the way and offer guidance, but the work is up to you and you alone.  It is not easy, but you can free yourself and your children from the pain and trauma of Family Court and High Conflict divorce.  Even when your co-parent keeps inflicting more and more control, financial hardship and fear on you, there are ways to expose their attacks for what they are and find peace for your own house.

The goal of our the programs offered at Life’s Doors Mediation is to clue you in to what you do not understand so that you can free yourself from a narcissistic ex, a bipolar co-parent, toxic co-parenting and really understand why it is you feel so trapped.  We also share with you the truth about Family Court professionals.  Why don’t they seem to know what they are doing?  Why don’t lawyers help you?  Why don’t parenting consultants seem to care about domestic abuse?  We have programs that are specifically created to help victims of domestic violence.  Check out our program, Victim in the System.

 

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Victim in the System logo-a trademark of Life’s Doors Mediation

 

We also help those in High Conflict situations.  Are you tired of it yet?  Do you want out of the control?  Check out what High Conflict U has to offer.  There is even a free e-course about Parenting Consultants and Coordinators!

 

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High Conflict U-a trademark of Life’s Doors Mediation

 

You have nothing to lose!  If you have tried everything else and found no help, why not try something new in this New Year?  Pick our brains as to why your situation seems so backwards and upside down.

While Life’s Doors Mediation can only provide mediation, parenting consulting and parenting time expeditor services to parents in Minnesota, our coaching and educational programs are without limits.  We can assist anyone in the United States, or even the world, to move beyond the prison of Family Court.  You owe it to yourself and your children to try something new!  It is always a free consult.  What have you got to lose?

FINALLY!

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!

Lost in the System Part 1

Lost in the System Part 2

Lost in the System Part 3

Lost in the System Part 4

A judge speaks out

Excerpts from http://www.safekidsinternational.org/

The Great PAS Debate

Image courtesy of / jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of / jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Do You Recommend Your Parenting Consultant or PTE?


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:

www.mnparent.org

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!

You Cannot Know What You Cannot Know


Image courtesy of pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As someone who experienced the harsh world that is High Conflict Divorce, first hand, I have been helping others navigate the process for as far back as 2000.  I was never prepared for the sheer lunacy of the family court system and, like most, was waist deep in it before I got a clue as to how unhelpful it was.  I often had no recourse and even if there was some action that could be taken, I often did not have enough money to pay for an attorney, at the exact time I needed an attorney.

I have seen the shock on faces of those who have not experienced the system.  When you tell your story to the lay person, they often stare in disbelief.  They cannot fathom that your children are being treated the way they are and no one will step in to protect them.

I am in an interesting position because I have some connections in the legal field.  Plus, I work with high conflict parents.  The stories are similar, and I know that these parents tell the truth.  Truth is a matter of perception and it can be misinterpreted or exaggerated, but the pain that high conflict parents experience is real.  My belief is that if we can support those parents, no matter what anyone in the system perceives truth to be, we would then be able to help these families, but the problem is that very few in the system actually understand it.

I have had to work very hard to share what I see and what I believe.  I work very hard because I am not an attorney, and I am not a licensed psychologist.  I do not have the credentials to make those in authority listen to me, except for a rare few.  The thing I have is personal experience, and a way of explaining things so that people can understand.  They may never be able to understand completely, but they can get some of it, and that is what is important.  Every little bit helps.

The most important thing though, is to help you get deeper into you, who you are, and why you have found yourself in this hellish place of the family court nightmare.  So I want to share with you a commonality that High Conflict Parents have.  This has been a common theme with almost every parent I have worked with.  You have all had to live through having a parent who was an alcoholic, or a parent who was abusive, and there are some other common threads out there, but for the most part, you are an Adult Child of Dysfunction.  You grew up in that relationship and when you grew up that is the relationship you knew.  That is what seemed familiar to you, and the result was that you picked a mate who would repeat for you the relationship you had with one, or both of your parents.

When I learned this about myself, it was life altering.  Wow!  I was excited!  You mean, I don’t have to be this way?  I don’t have to feel lousy all the time because of people who suck the life out of me and give me nothing, but pain in return?  I did not give into this very easily until the light bulb went off in my head and I was ready to look within.

A couple of years before my light bulb moment, a therapist had told me that people choose a relationship just like their parents had.  I was perplexed and confused by what she said.  My husband was an alcoholic, but my father was not.  In my mind, I equated the similarity in my husband and my relationship with that of my parents’ relationship, but was not seeing the role reversal.  It played out in my head numerous times.  I did not choose the same because my dad is not an alcoholic, I told myself.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought that therapist must have been crazy to suggest such a thing because my dad rarely touched a drop of liquor.  But, finally, one day, it hit me!  OMG, I did choose the same relationship, only I was my dad, my ex was my mom.  That is when the healing began.

I don’t want to go into a long drawn out story about my mother’s drinking, and the affect it had on me, but I will tell you that I had no clue about what was not normal in a family who keeps secrets, speaks to each other through filters, or manipulates people into doing things for them or against another family member.  I was surrounded by people like these.  It was in my family.  It was the same with friends.  It was a learned behavior, a behavior learned from birth, no less.  Birth!  If this is what I was surrounded with, and what I learned by example, and I never got to experience a healthy relationship, then how could I know any different?  How could I not have that experience repeat itself, especially in a system that is ripe for a higher level of that secrecy, lying and manipulation?    This system wants to give you a court order saying that you will co-parent, but they give you no direction on what exactly that means.  Court authorities lay this in your lap and basically say, “Now go co-parent for the good of your children”.  Then, when you cannot accomplish this feat, the torture begins.  You can never win at this game because they are asking you to do something you have never done, seen, or heard of in your life and you simply don’t know how to do it. 

You try as hard as you can to do as they say and then get criticized.  You are not even sure why, most of the time.  You just know this is how it has always been.  One person tries to hurt the other, the other person walks on eggshells trying not to “make them mad” and you still end up having everyone angry at you anyway.  So how do we rectify this situation?  I suspect that we cannot rectify it in the court setting because they will never be able to walk in your shoes and you will never be able to walk in their shoes.  You cannot know what you cannot know!  What is worse, we have no idea if the professionals on the case have their own Adult Children of Dysfunction issues or not.  If they do, they will probably never go after the bully because they, too, learned to walk on eggshells and not make waves.  You cannot know what you cannot know.

If no one ever teaches you what a healthy relationship is, you will never find one.  As soon as you try, it would feel as foreign to you as if you were in a foreign land without a translator.  You may find a table full of wonderfully kind people and sit down with them, hoping to fit in, but feel lost.  And if you saw a table of people who speak your language, even if they were very mean and uncaring people, you would feel more at ease with them.  At least in that instance, you understand them, and it is comfortable to you.  You don’t have to try hard to fit in because you have always been surrounded by those types of people.

Undoing this damage from the dysfunctional environment you grew up in is not easy.  First, you have to be made aware of how unhealthy the people around you are.  You have to let that sink in and realize it is true.  You have to learn this new way of doing things and then you have to practice at it.  It will not happen overnight.  It takes a lot of practice to break free and you also have to step over the fear of the unknown because again, you cannot know, what you cannot know.

If you are involved in a high conflict divorce, and just cannot understand why you cannot get out of it, I’d like you to consider the possibility that you are an Adult Child of an Alcoholic/Dysfunction.  It may not apply to you, but it may lead you to other areas of understanding.  Check out these resources:

http://www.drjan.com/

http://acainnerpeace.ncf.ca/charac.htm

http://www.houstonadultchildren.com/

http://psychcentral.com/lib/tips-on-setting-boundaries-in-enmeshed-relationships/00017840

There are many more.  Do your own research. 

Here are a few boo
ks that I highly recommend:

http://www.amazon.com/Intimacy-Struggle-Revised-Expanded-Adults/dp/1558742778/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424912&sr=1-2&keywords=the+struggle+for+intimacy

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-ACOA-Sourcebook-Children-Alcoholics/dp/1558749608/ref=la_B000APW2GK_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424937&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Childs-Guide-Whats-Normal/dp/1558740902
/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424276&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Children-Secrets-Dysfunctional-Families/dp/0932194532/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424988&sr=1-1&keywords=adult+children+the+secrets+of+dysfunctional+families

http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-Where-You-End-Begin/dp/1568380305/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392425197&sr=1-9&keywords=boundaries

http://www.amazon.com/When-Past-Present-Emotional-Relationships/dp/159030571X/ref=sr_1_35?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392425469&sr=1-35&keywords=healthy+boundaries+in+relationships

Chapters of My Life


Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I do not know who it was who wrote this or I would give them credit.  This was an opening for a Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota Parent Leader meeting this weekend.  PCAMN is now known as Minnesota Communities Caring for Children.  Our coordinator read this to the group yesterday.  I thought it was quite good and so true of our lives and how we learn from our mistakes and grow so I wanted to share it with you.

My Life in 5 Chapters

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost . . . I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.