July 9, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
As the lawyers say, “pleading further, if same be necessary…”
Here’s the excellent Karen Woodall adding her passion to the issue of parental alienation and what to do about it. Anyone misguided enough to have taken seriously Cara Tabachnick’s article on Family Bridges or, for that matter, any of the occasional pieces we read that attempt to cast doubt on the very concept of parental alienation, should read Woodall’s article.
As I recently pointed out, it’s not simply that Tabachnick, et al are wrong on the science on parental alienation, it’s not even that they’re intentionally wrong that’s so bad. What’s really beneath contempt is that the gist of their work is to exacerbate child abuse. After all, what they want us to do is to pretend that parental alienation doesn’t exist and, whenever a father claims his ex is alienating his child from him, he should be disbelieved and his evidence ignored. That way, the alienation, which is abuse, can continue. Writers like Tabachnick, Lauire Udesky and Marisa Endicott, whether they acknowledge it or not, are going to bat for child abuse.
Think about what they’ve written as you read Woodall’s article.
What is also clear as I move around the UK, is that people understand parental alienation at a fairly sophisticated level, what they don’t know is what to do about it.
Yes, that’s about the size of it. People like William Bernet, Amy Baker and countless others worldwide have given us a pretty good idea about the nature of parental alienation and its profound and lasting effects on children. But programs like Family Bridges and the others that attempt to reconnect alienated kids with their targeted parent are still developing. My guess is that, in the next decade or so, considerable strides will be made in addressing not only the alienation, but the sometimes severe problems children carry with them long into adulthood as a result. We’ll see.
What they also often do not know or do not realise, is that the alienation of a child can cover up other problems in the relationship with the aligned parent and that in that and so many other respects, it is so much more than a child contact issue.
Indeed. Recall, for example, that Tabachnick quoted the judge in the Jeu family’s case as finding, via mental health experts, that Sharon Jeu had an “enmeshed parenting style.” That is, she wasn’t always able to play the role of parent, because she was more a friend to her kids than their mother. That’s one way in which alienating parents have poor relationships with their kids and the alienation serves as a blind to obscure what could otherwise be acknowledged and dealt with.
In her own clinical practice, Woodall works with children who’ve been alienated and had their residence changed to that of the targeted parent. That is, she in her way does what Family Bridges does in its.
In essence, the unbearable position of the alienated child is one which should concern anyone who is working with children’s mental health, because it is child abuse at the deepest level of the developing psyche. Whether the alienation is caused deliberately or through the unconscious upholding of the child’s maladaptive efforts to cope with post separation family life, the end result is that the child is being abused at a level which is life changing.
Read that again and understand that that is what Tabchnick and all parental alienation deniers are promoting – child abuse “at a level that is life changing.”
Parental alienation is not about conflict between parents, it is not about a parent’s right to have a relationship with a child, it is not about whether a child should live in a shared care situation or whether a presumption of shared care would prevent the problem, it is a pernicious and dangerous form of emotional and psychological abuse which is perpetuated by parents and entrenched by our family law system.
That of course is exactly the way Tabachnick, et al like it. They’d prefer that the family law system would continue to entrench parental alienation. And, to a great degree, that’s what happens, very much as Woodall says. I believe that’s changing, at least here in the United States. Thanks to the many mental health professionals who understand parental alienation all too well, courts seem to be paying more attention to the problem and attempting to deal with it. My guess is that the recent spate of articles trying to deny the existence of parental alienation probably is due to that very thing. But of course few divorcing parents have the money it takes to convince an overworked judge to look at a case of alienation and take the proper steps. So, at the very least, those cases fall by the wayside, unseen by the legal system.
What is clear in my work with children, is that each and everyone of them, ranging from aged 6 to aged 18, knew that they were living a double experience of consciousness, in which they were aware that what they were saying and doing was wrong but that they had no choice but to do it.
Interesting. That fact almost certainly accounts for what Dr. Deirdre Rand reported to me and that I’ve seen elsewhere – once they’re out from under the alienator’s thumb, the children relax and relate to other adults reasonably well. According to Woodall, the children grasp their situation – the need to pretend to one parent that falsehoods are true. And they know that they need to continue to do so because of their need for the care of the alienating parent who, often as not, has become virtually their only caregiver.
For all the years I have done this work, for all the millions that government has poured into it, for all the voluntary sector agencies, the NSPCC and the other children’s charities, the lives of children in separated family situations remain simply unbearable, intolerable and incomprehensible. Whilst these charities say they work for children, the truth is that behind the scenes their ethos is largely based upon feminist principles of women’s rights first with children’s needs being indivisible from those of their mother. Which means that mothers whose children are aligned with them post separation are believed and mothers whose children say they no longer want to see them, are viewed as being deficient. Fathers on the other hand are largely dangerous, disposable and dismissed.
What better describes Tabachnick’s article and that of Udesky and Endicott? Indeed, the entire “protective parent” movement assumes without questioning that every claim of abuse by a mother against a father is true. That, after all, is how that movement came up with the entirely bogus claim that 58,000 kids per year are taken from “protective” mothers and turned over to abusive fathers who had only to say the words “parental alienation” in court and – voila! – custody was transferred.
Like so many others who are dedicated to educating the world about parental alienation and stamping out its pernicious effects, Karen Woodall is a woman on a mission. There are countless people who share her passion for helping alienated kids. People like Cara Tabachnick might want to re-think their position on parental alienation. They’re on the wrong side of the science and of people like Woodall. And that, my friends, is a losing battle.
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