April 16, 2018
National Parents Organization Works to Prevent Parental Alienation
April 25 Marks Parental Alienation Awareness Day
Amid global concerns surrounding the devastating impact of parental alienation, National Parents Organization encourages lawmakers throughout the U.S. to back family court reform supportive of shared parenting after divorce.
The concerns are amplified this month, considering April 25 marks the annual Parental Alienation Awareness Day. Parental alienation is defined by one parent essentially erasing the other parent from the child’s life by turning the child against that parent.
“It is difficult for anyone to turn a child against a fit and loving parent who plays an active role in a child’s life. Shared parenting can prevent attempts to alienate a child from a fit parent. However, far too often, the family courts order sole custody to one parent after a bitter, winner-take-all custody battle instead of insuring children have both loving, fit parents in their lives,” said Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “Often, a non-custodial parent has so little time with the child, the winning parent is empowered to knowingly or unknowingly marginalize the child from a fit and loving parent, creating heartbreak for child and parent. The marginalization alienates children and the parents.”
Events planned for April 25 throughout the nation aim to bring awareness to this crisis. As just one example, in Pennsylvania, impacted family members are invited to prepare a 3-minute testimony and bring empty shoes representing alienated children.
Efforts to address parental alienation with laws supportive of shared parenting are gaining momentum. The Washington Post reports 25 states have considered legislation within the past year that encourages shared parenting so children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent. A number of states have supported shared parenting for years. In recent years, Kentucky, Utah, South Dakota, Missouri and Minnesota have enacted the reform. And this action is not unique to the United States. Authorities in other areas of the world are proactively working to fight parental alienation. In the U.K., the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) revealed a new, groundbreaking policy: Parents who actively alienate another parent face losing some to all time with their children.
“We’ve long known that shared parenting gives children what they most want and need following separation or divorce – two loving parents actively involved in their lives. And now we also know that if a judge orders the more harmonious two-parent model, the pain of alienating children and parents can often be avoided,” Dr. Holstein said. “My hope is that we can make shared parenting the norm, so we can unite more children and parents and erase parental alienation.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
- In January 2018, The Journal of Child Custody published an update on child development research surrounding what’s best for kids when parents divorce or separate. In the update, Linda Nielsen, a Wake Forest University professor of adolescent and educational psychology, analyzed 60 studies spanning multiple decades and numerous countries. She concluded that shared parenting is better for children than single parenting on almost every measure of wellbeing.
- In September 2017, Acta Paediatrica, a peer-reviewed medical journal in the field of pediatrics, published a paper by Swedish researcher Malin Bergstrom of the Karolinska Institute titled “Preschool children living in joint physical custody arrangements show less psychological symptoms than those living mostly or only with one parent” – it concluded the mental health of children ages three to five with shared parenting is better on average than the mental health of those in the care of a single parent.
- The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.
- In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers."
- The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
- The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
- In December, 2016, The American Psychological Association published research by William V. Fabricius of Arizona State University in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law entitled, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Prof Fabricius’ findings provide “… strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time [up to and including 50/50 overnights –Ed] for infants and toddlers [even younger than one year –Ed], because the benefits [for children-Ed] associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections.” Fabricius shared details on his findings during the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, a May 29-30, 2017 event in Boston, Massachusetts hosted by National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting.
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
- 63% of teen suicides;
- 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
- 71% of high school drop-outs;
- 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
- 85% of those in prison;
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
- 90% of homeless and runaway children.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bonds with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws, and in 2017, National Parents Organization hosted the International Conference on Shared Parenting, bringing in research scholars from 18 countries to share their results on shared parenting. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org