February 26, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
What Laurie Udesky termed a “dubious theory,” others far more knowledgeable than she call Parental Alienation “child abuse.” Udesky might want to pay attention, but somehow I doubt she will. None other than the chief executive of the U.K.’s Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), Anthony Douglas called parental alienation abuse or neglect (Telegraph, 2/12/17).
And parental alienation is no rare thing in family courts across the pond.
He said the deliberate manipulation of a child by one parent against the other has become so common in family breakdowns that it should be dealt with like any other form of neglect or child abuse.
According to Cafcass, parental alienation is responsible for around 80 per cent of the most difficult cases that come before the family courts.
In other words, contrary to what Udesky would have us believe, parental alienation is not only all too real, it’s all too common. Judges and lawyers in family courts see it frequently as do mental health professionals. To pretend it’s a “dubious theory” is just flat wrong. Indeed, it’s not a theory at all, but a pattern of behavior that’s well known to everyone whose career takes them into family court.
Douglas raised another important aspect of parental alienation.
Alienation can include a parent constantly badmouthing or belittling the other adult, limiting contact between the child and the targeted parent, forbidding discussion about them, creating the impression the parent does not love the child and forcing the child to reject the parent.
“It’s undoubtedly a form of neglect or child abuse in terms of the impact it can have," said Mr Douglas. “I think the way you treat your children after a relationship has broken up is just as powerful a public health issue as smoking or drinking.”
Good point. Why would parental alienation constitute a public health issue? Because parental alienation’s whole purpose is to remove as much as possible one parent from a child’s life. And, since both parents are important to children’s well-being – their mental and physical health, their educational success, career success, etc. – parental alienation necessarily impacts the commonweal.
That second point also underscores Douglas’ first. If parental alienation is an important enough issue to affect public health, then it must be fairly widespread.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph article, whether wittingly or not, makes another important point about parental alienation.
One mother, who wants to remain unnamed, described how she was cut off from her son two years ago by her ex-husband.
She said her former partner made “false and fabricated allegations” against her in order to gain custody and “manipulate my son so deeply that he now has no memory of his loving childhood with me”.
Now her contact with the 14-year-old is limited to Skype conversations and visits once a month.
“If I had been sent to prison I would have been able to see my son more than I do now,” she said. “My son is brainwashed - he is emotionally dependent on his father and behaves as if he were in a cult. My son has no idea what is going on, only that he feels angry at me.
There’s one word in that quotation that I’d like to highlight – “mother.” One of the many fraudulent claims by those who attempt to prevent recognition of PA as a serious issue is that it’s invariably fathers who claim parental alienation by mothers, i.e. that the very concept of parental alienation is a sneak attack by men against mothers to prevent them from having custody of their kids. Laurie Udesky didn’t say that specifically, but it’s a common complaint by the anti-dad crowd. And of course Udesky’s piece managed to locate only abusive fathers who claimed parental alienation by mothers. So, implicitly if not explicitly, Udesky did exactly what so many have done before her – pretend that parental alienation is a one-way street.
It’s not. As every responsible mental health professional dealing with PA knows, fathers can perpetrate that form of child abuse every bit as well as can mothers. So the very fact that the linked-to article cites a female victim of alienation gives the lie to those who seek to question the importance (or the very existence) of PA.
People like Laurie Udesky should take note. So should the publications that print their arrant nonsense. Parental alienation is widely accepted by legal and mental health professionals as a destructive behavior that must be identified and dealt with. It’s bad for kids and parents alike. The claim that PA is a “dubious theory” has no basis in fact, but, more importantly, it’s an attempt to deprive children of one of their most important assets – their fathers. Doing so is beyond disgraceful; it’s an attack on social well-being and cohesion.
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#parentalalienation, #Cafcass, #childabuse, #childneglect, #LaurieUdesky